- My approach to psychotherapy is strongly rooted in the notion that each individual, whether child or adult, functions within a uniquely experienced relational world. This perspective provides a view of behavioral and emotional problems that allows us to understand and help modify these difficulties, some of which occur and persist outside of conscious awareness and which can interfere with mental health and wellbeing.
- Difficulties arise when certain patterns of behavior, thinking and feeling become persistent, particularly in times of stress, despite the personal distress and interpersonal disruptions they may cause.
- For example “Johnny”, age twelve, may become uncharacteristically withdrawn, rude and uncommunicative, leaving his parents at a loss to understand his refusal to do homework, plummeting school performance and surly behavior. Inquiries with the school and parents, along with sessions with the child might reveal that Johnny is struggling with developmental changes, both physical and psychological which have left him feeling overwhelmed, hopeless and unable to cope. His behavior may be an expression of his inability to manage his anxiety around the increased demands of academic performance and social interactions at school.
- In another situation four year old “Ellen” may have recently begun to have uncharacteristic temper tantrums, to wake every night with nightmares and to have regressed in her toileting to bed-wetting and soiling during the day. Investigation with her parents might reveal that Ellen’s behavior is a reaction to the recent birth of a new sibling, or perhaps the loss through death or illness of someone close to her and her parents. At age four, Ellen needs someone to help her articulate her experiences and her worries about loss of connection.
- Adults may seek help because they feel stuck in repetitive unsatisfying relationships at work and/or with their children, partners or parents. Such situations can result in chronic anxiety, unhappiness or depression and, for both children and adults, can lead to poor self esteem and an impaired sense of self.
- For most adults, talking is the primary mode of communication, although dreams and other creative expressions may be included.
Children communicate their thoughts, feelings, fears and longings primarily through the metaphor of play, although many children also like to speak directly about their problems.
- My technique with children is to allow the child to take the lead and interact in sessions using whichever modality the child chooses. Most children will readily use projective materials (toys, puppets,) art, (paint, sand or clay) or role play (including dressing up) to express their inner world.
- Whether with adults, children or in a parent counseling context, my approach is to seek to establish a comfortable trusting therapeutic relationship in which we are able to communicate freely.