My education, training, and experience include exposure to a number of approaches and theoretical orientations, especially experiential and cognitive-behavioral therapies. This helps me find the approaches that are best suited to a particular person or persons and situation, rather than applying one approach to all people and their situations.
Gestalt therapy is my primary theoretical home-base; more specifically, the contemporary Relational Gestalt approach. Gestalt is a German word which means integrated whole or configuration, and Gestalt therapy is interested in the whole person, and their context. Gestalt therapy was the first psychotherapeutic approach to strongly emphasize the importance and value of orienting primarily to the present moment; much more recently many other approaches have come to appreciate the value of mindfulness - of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Early Gestalt therapy strongly emphasized excitement and growth in the human personality, and saw growth as the development of increased self-support. While continuing to strongly value excitement, growth, and the development of self-support, the contemporary Relational Gestalt perspective more fully understands that we are deeply social beings for whom strong social connection and support networks are critically important. Contemporary Relational Gestalt therapy thus attends to the development of both strong self support and strong social support, which complement each other.
In addition to the Relational Gestalt approach, my background includes substantial training and experience with Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS). I am also strongly influenced by the work Stephen Gilligan PhD, who was a student and protege of Milton Erickson. While these three strongly experiential approaches to therapy have different lingoes and differ in some respects, in many ways they are quite similar, often using different terminology to describe very similar processes. I find that Gestalt, IFS, and Gilligan's Generative Trance approaches often work together well and naturally.
My graduate school experience provided extensive training in behavioral and cognitive-behavioral (CBT) approaches to therapy. I continue to strongly value science, and pay attention to developments in the theory and techniques of some of the behavioral and cognitive-behavioral approaches. There are increasing convergences between some of the experiential and more empirically based approaches to therapy. Especially encouraging is the increased appreciation of mindfulness practices by the empirically oriented behavioral and CBT communities. The emphasis on awareness in Gestalt therapy, and the utilization of mindfulness practices in some contemporary CBT and behavior therapy approaches, are in some respects now quite similar.
I am particularly interested and experienced in working with clients who have anxiety problems, including: obsessive compulsive symptoms, panic and agoraphobia, serious social anxiety, post-traumatic difficulties (but not severe and complex PTSD), simple phobias, and highly generalized anxiety. While some anxiety is a natural part of human experience, there are many ways to work with extreme anxiety to transform and utilize it's strong energy. Anxiety symptoms are often signs of something strongly energetic and important trying to happen, but needing further understanding, support and guidance toward workable, effective creative adjustment and development. Sometimes, "Our deepest fears are like dragons which guard our deepest treasures" (Rilke).
Couples and Sex Therapy
Since we are such deeply social and relational beings, our intimate relationships are an aspect of our lives in which we can be both most fully ourselves in loving contact with each other, and experience some of the greatest suffering, pain and difficulty. Relationship problems often connect to our deepest wounds, and thus to the potential for deep healing. Couples in difficulty often have problems with sex, and for a number of years I've been studying and receiving supervision in couples and sex therapy; the work of Dr Stella Resnick, and Dr Gina Ogden are the strongest influences for me in this area.