I typically work with individual adults one on one at least once per week on a consistent basis. This frequency gives us the best chance to experience, understand, and alter the issues that are troubling you. The length of psychotherapy varies individually, though I tend to work with my clients on a long-term basis. It often takes many sessions, and lots of patience, just to uncover what the real issues are.
What depth psychotherapy means to me is that we all take care of ourselves in ways that we are not aware of. “Taking care” means managing anxiety, pain, or anger. “Not aware” means unconscious. So we can say that you will come to therapy with unconscious anxiety, pain, and anger management strategies. In your therapy I hope to gain your trust in order to facilitate an environment in which you are receptive to noticing your feelings in our sessions. This process can naturally be anxiety-provoking or confusing, but over time you will gain confidence in your ability to face these feelings.
In our work together, I will encourage you to acknowledge feelings of ambiguity, uncertainty, and doubt about the therapy process. I view therapy as a chance to voice the hopes and disappointments that putting your trust in another person can bring. The vulnerability of therapy can be a potent emotional catalyst, bringing up feelings that we usually manage to keep ourselves distracted from. Part of our work will be to gradually understand why it is so vital to allow yourself to experience the emotions which you usually deem as worthless, childish or just unacceptable. It is natural to avoid what hurts and to go towards what is pleasurable. This can make the therapeutic process of experiencing unwanted emotions confusing. “What’s the point of therapy if I sometimes leave feeling worse, or if I’m not finding the answers to my problems?” is a common and understandable refrain. The response to this concern is that the unwanted emotion is not the problem, your effort to avoid it is.
By allowing yourself to explore these emotions in therapy, you are facilitating the feeling of being real. By shutting off unwanted emotion, we unintentionally shut off very real and genuine parts of
ourselves. This can lead to many “symptoms”, or disguises that our true problems dress up in, including: loss of energy, worthlessness, hyperactivity, distraction, compulsions, confusion, disappointment, work stress, miscommunication, addictions, frustration, and even physical symptoms like headaches, stomach issues, and unexplained pain- just to name a few.
So why is sitting in a room with someone, a therapist, the approach for treating these symptoms? The reason for this approach is based in part on the understanding that your need to hide from unwanted emotions comes from your environment prohibiting the expression of those emotions. This also ranges to very positive-feeling emotions. Joyfully expressing yourself without inhibition, crying out for help, or shrieking with excitement are at some point simply too much for our early caregivers, usually our parents and other significant figures, and are censored, shamed, or simply not responded to. Abandoning entire realms of experience is likely to have occurred in the context of these relationships, and the therapy relationship hopes to facilitate your re-engagement with them.
I also work with the hope that while therapy can be a crucial opportunity to develop trust in self and others, eventually that trust will spread into your relationships in the world in general and the ever-evolving process of being yourself will become self-perpetuating. That is to say, therapy can open doors that you can then choose to walk through.
While a long-term therapy process can be uncomfortable at times, it can be one of the most gratifying and meaningful experiences of a person’s life. It is astounding to experience fear and sadness transforming into openings of self-understanding and actualization in the world. I see depth psychotherapy as a means of accepting the vicissitudes of being limited, vulnerable, biological beings, so that we can strive for a feeling of participation in the ultimately mysterious nature of our existence and to express this experience to one another in a mutually enriching way.