Some approaches I use are referred to as “top down." This is a process driven by cognition. Working top-down utilizes the amazing capacity of the brain and mind (especially the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for logic & reason).
This approach works well for most clients: adults, teens & couples.
“Taking responsibility for one's own mind can lead to liberation of the self...”
- Dr. Dan Siegel
Some psychological approaches that fall under this umbrella are Cognitive/Behavioral (CBT), Psychodynamic Therapy, and Dialectical Behavioral Theory (DBT).
Psychodynamic Theory is considered a top down approach, and is the one I have most training in.
If curious, you can read page 2 of this highly regarded Study on the Efficacy of Psychodynamic Therapies for more information about the underlying principles of psychodynamic theory.
This approach can be useful for managing anxiety, depression, grief, substance use, relational/marital distress, and a host of other issues that you may be facing as an individual or part of a partnership or marriage.
Therapy should focus not only on symptom relief (i.e., getting rid of of the distress/discomfort) but also enhance resilience, relational skills, and strengths.
Depending on the circumstances, one can expect more fulfilling relationships, effective use of talents/abilities, increased self-esteem, and facing life’s challenges with greater freedom and flexibility.
“Like a sponge filled with water, anywhere the flesh is pressed, wrung, even touched lightly, a memory may flow out in a stream.”
- Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Another way of working therapeutically is “bottom-up”. This is a process driven by sensory input from various systems of the body.
Bottom up approaches work most notably with the limbic system (in the brain) & nervous system (in the brain & body).
This is where the term somatic comes in; somatic meaning ‘of the body’. There are many approaches to working somatically such as Somatic Experiencing (SE), Polyvagal Therapy, Sensorimotor psychotherapy, and the one I have the most training in, which is Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychology.
Hakomi is a mindfulness-based, somatic, experiential form of individual psychotherapy. Its has been developed over the past 40 years to uncover and explore core beliefs that guide our lives without our awareness. Hakomi facilitates attention and exploration in the here-and-now during sessions and can be highly experiential and deeply transformative.
Read an article about Hakomi >>
Working relationally is a principle I strive to uphold in all therapeutic encounters, whether the client is an individual or coming as a partnership.
“We are born in relationship, we are wounded in relationship, and we can be healed in relationship.”
- Harville Hendrix
Research has shown what know intuitively; that in most cases the quality of the relationship between client and therapist is the primary factor in whether therapy is considered successful.
This means that on occasion I may ask for direct input or feedback on how therapy is working for you and address the ‘here-and-now’ of what is happening between us.
Building a relationship that can address these dynamics takes time, patience and dedication.
This also means that identifying, validating, and addressing various aspects of your identity are essential components to therapy.
Looking at various social factors, such as race, class, culture, and gender (to name a few), and examining the power struggles and other issues that develop as a result of these factors, is part of being a relational therapist.
We may explore how these factors impact relationships or personal challenges in your life, and even how the therapeutic process is/isn’t working for you.
“The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.” - Rainer Maria Rilke
It would be quite presumptuous to assume myself or any professional has all the answers!
This where acknowledging, honoring and relating to the mysteries of life and what it means to be human, come into play.
This may be referred to as working with the mystery, the unconscious, the unknown, the shadow, the transpersonal, the archetypal, the soul.
An umbrella term for this is depth psychology.
Depth-oriented approaches to life & suffering attempt to help us to become curious about what is unconscious or unknown.
Healing can be associated with allowing what has been repressed or ignored to come forward so that one can explore its significance, allowing for a transformation in consciousness.
Taking a depth approach also acknowledges how much we cannot and will not know.
Depth Psychology attends to the way these unconscious processes express themselves not only personally, but in relationships, society, and culture as well.
As a therapist coming from a depth tradition, I attempt to understand the language and dynamics of the unconscious as it shows up in our time together, and in the world at large. And am constantly humbled by this process.
Because it is less solution-focused than other types of therapies, depth psychology can easily interweave with other approaches, bolster a sense of meaning and purpose in the world, and provide context/direction for life’s challenges.
For those who drawn to various thinkers & teachers, I am curating a list of resources on my Listen & Learn page.
I look forward to exploring the depths with you!
Acknowledging identity is a value of mine. One way I practice this is by sharing & using accurate pronouns. Mine are she/her. What pronouns do you use?