I believe that whatever may trouble your life does not define the whole of you, nor should it frame your psychological identity. Thereby, my perception of you and of the life you bring to therapy is never primarily informed by one-dimensional diagnostic labels which engender and reinforce traditional clinical notions of anomaly and psychopathology. Instead, I perceive the totality of the life experience you present to our work – the external and internal; that which belongs to your past, your present and your anticipated future – as elements of a life fully connected to the common ground of our human experience. This complex and diverse territory is the sole location of my work with my clients: a place we all share, in which we sometimes struggle, and in which I fully include myself.
Whatever the concerns and stressors that may be present in your life; whatever the emotional discomfort they may engender: they have also provided an opportunity for you to seek and accept help. I therefore regard the problems that you confront – however acute – as indispensable guideposts to the positive outcomes of our helping relationship.
I abstain from a clinical mindset of certitude: from the kind of presumed professional authority that is rendered and sustained by compressing the vastly complex psychological experience of a particular human life into concrete categories and fixed labels. Such an orientation readily engages richly descriptive terminology and elaborate taxonomies as if these were capable – in and of themselves – of illuminating the complex psychological reality, the dilemmas and the conflicts within an individual’s heart and mind.
I focus instead on each client’s experience of Self, that is, his/her own sense of identity and place in the world, through which we together seek a fuller, truly beneficial understanding of the meaning and direction of a life’s story. In this task I view the Self as the central, indispensable psychological resource of my work: absolutely key to the treatment of the whole person. The Self is the realm in which all individuals’ feelings and thoughts take on depth and meaning, and in which motivations are sorted out and behaviors largely determined.
My work method guides my clients toward a deeper understanding of the formation and functioning of their sense of self, and thereby, to increased emotional equilibrium in being themselves and functioning among others. I approach this task through a careful, collaborative exploration of the interactions of all aspects of my clients’ history and present lives. This contributes to the gradual emergence of each individual’s totality: His/her innate characteristics, upon which the wide scope of character and personality has evolved within the framework of both the original family and the physical/social environment in which that person has lived.
Through this, we often find that the strongest features of a person’s character and personality tend to arise from, and reflect, difficult life circumstances and experience. We commonly observe that ironically, those very attributes and resources that seem the most distinct and are most valued by an individual – can also prove the most problematic. Resolution of the dilemmas related to this paradox presents each person with long term challenges of finding and sustaining broad, inclusive, compassionate self-insight and a balanced view of self.
Throughout, I consider my clients’ subjective experience a resource with unlimited potential to impart depth and direction to our work. Such wealth is never enhanced by compression into preexisting clinical templates and taxonomies of calculated design. I am entirely comfortable with the presence and challenge of ambiguity and mystery in therapy: It is a most natural component of the depth and complexity of each client’s psychological life – of his/her unique sense of being. I find that our willingness to embrace uncertainty often proves the cornerstone for my clients’ self-rediscovery, for their release from chronic pain, and for lasting positive changes in their lives.