The decision to seek psychotherapy can be intimidating. It can also be one of the most empowering and rewarding steps a person takes in his or her life. While healing occurs with effective treatment techniques and education about various conditions, your commitment to the process is essential. To sustain your commitment, the relationship developed between you and your therapist is critical. My goal is to fully understand the problems that bring you to treatment with active and accurate listening in an environment of compassion and non-judgment. As you are the best expert on your life, I consider you an active partner in creating the changes you desire. Together we will identify your strengths, values, and personal goals to promote change and growth. I will work closely with you to develop specific skills and strategies to manage and overcome your stressors. With greater self-awareness and increased confidence that you can successfully overcome limiting beliefs and debilitating emotions, you will become empowered to live a healthier, more fulfilling life. My approach is genuine, supportive, enthusiastic, and warm.
Chronic Illness & Pain
Suffering with chronic illness and/or pain can be emotionally overwhelming in addition to the debilitating physical symptoms experienced. These conditions can have a significant impact on our emotional health and overall quality of life, affecting our relationships, family, and work life. Often, depression or anxiety take over and shift our focus away from what is meaningful to us. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to go from doctor to doctor with little long-term benefit. As a specialist in Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine, I’ve worked in a range of patient settings and have had the pleasure and honor to help many people reduce their physical and emotional distress and take charge of their lives again.
Treatment of chronic medical conditions is typically multi-faceted and may include components such as education about the particular condition, education about mind-body connections, diaphragmatic breathing, muscle relaxation training, development of adaptive coping skills (e.g., stress management), adoption of healthy lifestyle changes, and more traditional psychotherapy. Beginning with our initial assessment, we will work together to identify ways in which your medical issues have impacted your life and what you would like your life to look like based on what is meaningful to you (i.e., your values). We will focus on building awareness, creating choice, encouraging commitment to change and action, and increasing acceptance of aspects of our lives that we cannot change. In a nonjudgmental and accepting manner, we will identify emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that have been promoting distress and limiting/disrupting your pursuit of a happier, more fulfilling life. To reach these goals, I will employ a variety of evidence-based treatments (see below). With your consent, I will communicate with any referring health care providers about your goals and progress.
Evidence-based treatments that I employ include:
CBT is arguably the most well-supported and researched psychotherapy intervention. CBT is a goal-oriented intervention that seeks to change disabling patterns of thinking and/or behavior underlying an individual’s difficulties and thereby change the way they feel. In the context of chronic pain, persons with chronic pain often have ways of thinking that maintains pain, often at a high level, because of the great amount of fear that these thoughts and beliefs create.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
ACT is an increasingly well-researched variation of cognitive-behavioral therapy with a strong emphasis on being in the present-moment, mindful behavior, committed action, and the importance of personal values in balancing change with acceptance of life as it is. As CBT seeks to change our nonadaptive automatic thoughts about the world, ACT works to change our relationship with these thoughts. ACT philosophy and strategies are central to my approach with clients.
IPT focuses on the interpersonal relationships of individuals suffering from depression. IPT is based on the premise that depression can be treated by improving communication patterns and how people relate to others.
BA is typically a treatment for depression that reduces avoidance and isolation and identifies and promotes engagement in activities known to improve mood. Typically this includes activities that are related to a person’s values.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction & Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
Mindfulness training involves learning a new way of being in the world through principles such as present moment awareness, non-judgment, and radical acceptance. MBSR and MBCT have been found to be effective in the treatment of many conditions including anxiety, depression, physical pain, and stress reduction. Chronic pain research shows that when mindfulness is used consistently, the brain’s pain centers become less active, reducing physical symptoms. Overall stress and emotions like fear also decrease by use of mindfulness training through changes in the brain’s fear centers.