What Happens during Individual Psychotherapy



hen you come to me for treatment, I work with you to alleviate your suffering, and help you clarify your conflicts and your needs. We work together to fully recognize your intrinsic strength and integrity, and remove obstacles to your healing and growth.

The first thing I do is get to know you—who you are, what you want and what you need. I formulate a clinical assessment of your situation, clarifying the issues and challenges you face. During the course of treatment I assist you in recognizing and appreciating your strengths and assets—how you are okay, what you do well, how you are special. I help you to get to know yourself better, on a deeper level, perhaps, than you have known yourself up until now. Lastly, I listen. And, as appropriate, I offer observations, to help you see yourself and your situation more clearly.

I may ask questions/make remarks. These are intended to remove some of the psychological impediments immediately present which may be preventing your full awareness and/or expression.

I may offer suggestions. I might suggest you consider studying hatha yoga, do some aerobic exercise several times per week, or perform some other physical activity. The body affects the mind, and a physical practice can often help to shift a person’s mood and/or level of anxiety. Professional literature supports interventions of exactly this sort, in order to improve emotional well-being. If this is what you need, I will recommend it.

I may offer targeted observations. I might point out a mental construct that you are describing. We all get caught up in ways to see the world and ourselves. We were taught such ideas from our earliest years, and this process ever continues. Yet, not all of our ideas of who and what we are (or what the world consists of and how it works) are accurate, or life-enhancing. When I notice an inaccurate and life-depleting notion, as appropriate, I will bring your attention to it. In this way you will have the opportunity to consider the possibility of letting go of an idea that, at one time, may have been quite useful—it could have helped you survive in the household in which you grew up—for something more accurate and supportive. The mental part of you will be addressed during psychotherapy.

Spirit, along with emotions, body, and mind is a crucial part of our being. Spirit is not, in my opinion, always associated with a belief or an experience of there being a higher power. What spirit is associated with is meaning. A crucial question for each of us is: What matters to me? What means something to me? What moves me? What picks me up by the scruff of the neck and says, “Here! Pay attention to me!” What, from the future, calls me, piques my inner curiosity, and demands that I respond to it? We are always occupied with the part of ourselves that is directly concerned with questions of meaning. Acknowledging this part of our self and honoring it is critical to our well-being. Spirit is addressed in psychotherapy.

We are of a piece. One. Whole. And all aspects of us, our bodies, our feelings, our ideas of who we are and how the world works, and how connected we are to our own inner truth—all of these play an important part in our ability to function fully in our lives.

In the treatment setting I respect every part of the human being, as we each seek to realize our own fullest potential to be simply ourselves.