Although I have written about this in the past, I still find it essential that people understand what psychotherapy is and what it is not. For me, therapy is about developing skills and tools that will assist people in being more flexible in their thinking. We all have tendencies to “get stuck,” by becoming too rigid in the way we perceive and react to people and situations. My goal is to assist people in exploring different ways of handling challenging situations in order that they are able to freely function without the burdens of stress, anxiety, sadness, fear and anger. My approach is very focused on building a strong therapeutic alliance, meaning that the relationship between me and the client is held in the highest regard. The question I asked myself repeatedly when meeting with a client is, “what is it like to be you?” Now you may say that sounds pretentious because how can someone ever completely know what it is like to “be me,” but the whole point of that question is help me understand what it is you are feeling and experiencing. This is completely contradictory to many people’s assumptions that I am there to analyze, judge and provide some sort of label; bipolar, schizophrenic, manic, depressed or anxious. These clinical terms can be helpful in guiding treatment, but it still doesn’t tell me who you are as an individual and this is why the relationship is so important. This may be the first time you are ever fully comfortable to be yourself, without the danger of criticism or judgment. My acceptance of you is intended to show you that it is ok to accept yourself, which in turn may improve your relationships, your self-esteem, your anxiety and your sadness.
The main reasons why people avoid coming to therapy are that they are going to be judged and/or labeled with some disorder. This could not be farther from the truth. The truth is we all suffer and we all fall into patterns of thinking, behaving and feeling that are not helpful to our well-being. My job and only job is offer another way of approaching a situation. Sometimes this can be accomplished in a few sessions. In other situations it may take a year. The time doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are putting yourself first, by taking a step towards personal growth and deeper self-awareness