I believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to therapy; every person is different, and the way that people experience and heal from their problems is unique. For this reason, I consider your first sessions, usually 2 for an adult and 4 for a child or teen, an assessment in which I get to know you and your individual personality and preferences, understand your history and current problems, and identify your goals. As I learn more about you in these first sessions and we begin to develop a positive therapeutic relationship, I will offer specific impressions and treatment recommendations, then partner with you to create a written treatment plan that is tailored to your needs and goals. The treatment plan we create together will include your goals for therapy, how we will achieve them, in what timeframe, and which therapeutic methods we agree will be most helpful. New clients are often understandably nervous about starting therapy, but I work to make the assessment and treatment planning process engaging, relational, and relaxed, and most people find it easier to become involved in the process of therapy than they expected.
I specialize in an integrative approach to therapy that draws from a variety of evidence-based therapeutic models (cognitive-behavioral, dialectical behavior, developmental, attachment, family systems, interpersonal neurobiology, and/or psychodynamic), incorporates multidisciplinary services when needed (medical doctors, nutritionists, pastors, etc), and focuses on mind-body-spirit health and wholeness. The format of adult and adolescent therapy varies from person to person, and is defined in the individualized treatment plan we create together in the assessment process. The issues I treat most commonly in my practice include:
My earliest experience as a therapist involved working with children with emotional and behavioral issues, or who had endured profound trauma, and this work has remained important to me even as my practice and areas of specialty have expanded. Adults and older children have the ability to put their thoughts and feelings into words, but a young child’s language is play. Children communicate their most intense emotions and enact significant experiences through their play – because of this natural tendency, children have an innate ability to be resilient, and a trained therapist can make use of a child’s play-based language to help them work through their emotions and experiences in a way that helps them to cope and heal. Therapy for very young children always revolves around play, but even older children at times opt to use toys and art as well as words to talk about their lives and feelings. I begin every course of child therapy with the assessment process, which involves partnering with parents to create a treatment and/or parenting plan. I consider parents to be their child’s most valuable ally in transforming their behavior or emotions, and I work closely with parents throughout the process of therapy to ensure that they remain highly involved partners.
Parenting is hard work. Parents today face greater challenges and more stress than ever before. I often say that today’s parents are burdened by “information overload” – parenting books and websites abound, all written from seemingly endless different and conflicting perspectives. It’s enough to confuse and overwhelm anyone. The many parenting books and websites that you read often contradict each other because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting. There is no one right way to parent. There is no magic formula. Time and again, I see parents struggling to apply a formulaic approach from an expert to their child with little or no success and consequently feeling a sense of failure, as though there must be something wrong with them or wrong with their child. In reality, there is usually nothing wrong with the parent or the child, they simply haven’t identified an approach suited to the unique needs and design of their family, and once they do, real change takes place. Through a simple, short term, and fun process, I work to assess your family dynamics and relationships, understand what needs your child is communicating through their behavior, and partner with you to develop a plan specifically tailored to your family that puts you back in control at home, most often without the need for ongoing therapy.
Navigating the world of mental health care can be a challenge. I often work with clients who need more than one mental health service, such as medication, psychological testing, nutritional or dietary support, or family therapy in addition to individual counseling. My clients often tell me that they find independent mental health care and medical providers to be disconnected from each other, and that providers from different disciplines offer seemingly conflicting advice and treatment recommendations. When more than one professional is involved in your care, it is critical for each one to work as part of an integrative treatment team that communicates and coordinates services together in your best interest. For this reason, I maintain a network of psychiatrists who provide medication evaluation and management, psychologists who offer cognitive and behavioral testing, physicians, naturopaths, dieticians, and other therapists to whom I can refer you and with whom I can work closely to coordinate your care. If we determine that you need additional services outside of what I provide, I will work with you to assemble and coordinate communication among a multidisciplinary treatment team that works together on your behalf.