We become who we are through relationship. Beginning at birth, we take in the messages conveyed through the ways our parents hold us and respond to us. We are without language, but born with amazing sensitivity to the interior lives of others. Those messages strongly influence our bedrock sense of who we are, what value we place on ourselves, what we can expect from relationships, and how comfortable we feel in the world. Because human brains have so much development to accomplish after birth, and because no parent is perfect, all new infants are extremely vulnerable to inconsistent signals about their value to those who matter. None of us reaches adulthood with a self we are entirely comfortable with.
This framework is always in mind as I work with individual adults and adolescents. Each of us occasionally encounters situations for which our responses strike us or someone else as too much or too little. A common example is the experience of strong anger. We have a strong, uncomfortable feeling, but then we have other internal responses to that feeling, like shame or guilt, that make the experience twice as uncomfortable. We may then get stuck while a part of ourselves that feels the anger is justified, and a part that feels guilty for having the anger, battle it out inside our heads.
I work to help my individual clients understand what their feelings and actions are trying to say to them. One aspect of this work is to learn to differentiate our primary feelings from our internal reactions to those feelings. I make use of a method of therapy known as Internal Family Systems (IFS), developed by Richard Schwartz, PhD, as well as hypnosis, narrative therapy, cognitive behavioral strategies, and sensorimotor strategies utilizing meditative techniques. My clients typically become more comfortable with their inner experiences, allowing them to more easily integrate the parts of themselves that they haven’t been able to trust because they have appeared alien to their core values and intentions.
Who I Work With
My clients are adults and adolescents, aged 15 and up. The situations they see me about include, but are not limited, to the following.
- Grief and loss
- Serious illness, disability and chronic pain
- Trauma and PTSD
- Parent and stepparent consultation
- Disconnected relationships, including separation, divorce and adult siblings
- Most varieties of anxiety
- Depression and disabling self-doubt.
- Substance dependence and abuse