Introduction to individual counseling
When people think of psychotherapy and individual therapy, they might imagine lying on a leather couch feeling intimidated while a psychologist takes notes on everything they say in order to dig up “repressed” childhood experiences. This indeed is a way psychotherapy has been practised. These days, psychotherapy takes on a different form and the approach just described is not how I work.
Individual counseling is the place people turn when they have a problem of significant intensity or duration that is not getting better on its own. Or they feel getting an additional perspective from a trained counselor could be useful. People use individual therapy to achieve greater understanding and possibly breakthroughs which will aid them in accomplishing personal goals. I provide a safe place to examine troubling feelings and thoughts. Together we seek solutions through new behavior or perhaps a new perspective on an old situation.
Individual counseling can be short or long in duration. Tailoring treatment to client needs is what is important.
The first session will usually involve us “getting to know” one another. I’ll ask questions about you and your past experiences, current situation, family, job and friends. I will not push you to answer questions you are not read to address, but I do need to obtain enough information about your individual needs in order to determine a course of treatment. In some cases, the problem will be quite evident to both you and I (e.g. if you are too depressed to function well). However, in some cases there may be an underlying issue you are not aware of (e.g. you may be sabotaging yourself without knowing why).
Two of the most frequently occurring emotional states seen in psychotherapy involve depression and anxiety. These feelings are signals or feedback to an individual that some aspect of her or his life needs attention. Anxiety and depression can represent an internal conflict that one doesn’t know how to work through. Or the problem could exist in the work environment or with a primary relationship. I offer depression therapy or anxiety therapy when either of these issues are presenting at the beginning of therapy or arise during its course. Please visit my blog to read my thoughts on psychiatric medications.
In addition to anxiety and depression I have experience with many issues including fear (say of a dreaded outcome), guilt, self-defeating attitudes or behavior, substance abuse, and marriage/relationship problems. I also have experience with issues pertaining to sexuality, sexual orientation, and self-esteem. Over the years I have worked with many people and their issues, concerns, and symptoms.
I have written and been interviewed at length about some of my areas of interest. Please click on the following for details regarding my work with survivor guilt, feelings of failure, and alcohol abuse.
What is involved in individual therapy?
It is important that we gather enough information during our visits so I can assess the problem and decide with you a plan of action that makes sense. The first step is to determine what the problem is. Once you and I have developed an awareness of the situation, we can start to work together to determine why the problem is present. From here, we will implement a program to try to solve the problem.
Most people begin therapy to get relief from their suffering. But I believe that life’s difficulties can also provide the opportunity for personal growth. I am here to help you to move from coping and surviving to living a life that feels empowered, fulfilled and independent, with relationships that are deeply enriching, connected, and loving.
- Identify coping strategies: These may be coping strategies that have helped you in the past. I will teach you to adapt these strategies to your current situation. If your coping strategies have been unsuccessful in the past, I will guide you in the development of new ones.
- Rearrange life priorities: Sometimes people have psychological problems because they have an irrational expectation of themselves and others. This increases the pressure on everyone and can lead to stress, anxiety and depression. By rearranging your expectations and priorities you may be able to avoid unnecessary stress.
- Focus on meaningful pursuits.
- Identify personal strengths: Sometimes during times of psychological crisis it is easy to focus on your weaknesses and what you do not have, instead of your strengths and the wonderful things you do have. My job is to draw your attention to positive aspects about yourself, and help you rediscover and bring them out again. This will help you to believe in yourself.