My Therapeutic Approach
My approach is grounded in three main areas: existentialism, anti-oppression, and phenomenology. I know those are abstract concepts (you can read more about them on my writing page). Some of the ways they translate into the practice of therapy are building self-knowledge and self-worth, healing wounds, working with change, finding embodiment and integration, resisting oppression, and coping with suffering. I also integrate elements of narrative therapy and somatic awareness into my work.
Building self-knowledge and self-worth
While formal education teaches us many things about the world, it does little in the way of teaching us how to learn about ourselves. I believe this is one of the most important skills a person can have, and therapy is a way to build it. So many of us struggle with valuing ourselves because we’ve been told in some way by others that we aren’t important, or even because we simply don’t know ourselves well enough to find our own worth. Self-exploration in a therapeutic relationship offers a safe container for learning about yourself and confronting the messages that are holding you back from seeing your own worth.
Few of us make it to adulthood without having been hurt in serious ways, sometimes by the same people who we expected to love and care for us. This early damage moves forward with you through life, affecting your relationships, sense of self, and ability to experience all that your life has to offer. While we cannot go back and change the past, we can, in therapy, spend time with what remains of the past and find ways to heal the hurts you have experienced. This can help you build stronger connections with others, which is vital to long-term well-being. I work with trauma not by dredging it up and retelling, but by examining how it shows up now and addressing those experiences.
Working with change
Who you are today is not who you were a year ago, nor is it who you will be a year from now. Part of the human experience is that we are constantly shifting and unfolding, and it can be hard to keep up. Change can be intentional or involuntary, and both types can be exciting at the same time as being hard and scary. Learning how to follow ourselves as we transform and challenge ourselves in areas we feel need changing is enormously helpful in moving forward in life. And sometimes, working on change is also about working on acceptance of what was or what is; what cannot be escaped.
Finding embodiment and integration
We live through our bodies; and yet, we often neglect them. The body holds wisdom and information. For instance, my breathing or heart rate can tell me if I feel safe or scared. How I am sitting with someone can reveal how I am feeling about them. I think it is important in therapy to attend to the body and learn from what it is telling us. Integration is partly about mind-body integration, which helps you live more wholly. It is also about integration with others: we are social beings and need supportive social connections. With individual therapy, I offer you one source of support but also focus on helping you find others.
Marginalization and oppression at institutional and interpersonal levels often have profound negative effects on our psyches. We have internalized the stories others tell about us and these get in the way of finding our own stories and empowerment. By holding awareness of the realities of oppression and the messages of social justice in the therapeutic relationship, I can offer you a path to replacing those damaging narratives with your own truths and finding empowerment in your life.
Coping with suffering
To be human is to experience suffering. Whether that suffering comes from mental illness, family dynamics, romantic relationships, societal marginalization, or something else, we will all suffer at some points. While we can do work to heal some of this pain, better manage mental illness, or make life changes to improve relationships, there are times we will inevitably be distressed. Learning how to interact and make peace with suffering is an important part of finding well-being.
What do you need?
Different people come to therapy for different reasons. I look forward to hearing more about you and what you need to work through right now.
Much of the work of therapy happens in developing the relationship itself. As we do that, patterns will play out and emotions will arise. The experiences you have in the room with me all support your process of learning about yourself and making the life changes you need.
I hold an MA in psychology and a BA in gender studies and philosophy. My previous experience includes working on a crisis line and as a clinician at an LGBTQ+ mental health agency.
Want to get started? Find answers to common questions on my get started page. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form below.