My Approach

The primary thing I believe about counseling is that it is a time and place where we intentionally seek deeper knowledge about ourselves and learn skills which support a happier, healthier life so that we may function at our best.  I also strongly believe that all people have equal value and are worthy of love and respect.  My practice is open to anyone as long as I have the capability to address your issue.  I believe you will find me to be a warm, genuine, and encouraging person.

I am trained as a cognitive-behavioral therapist and central to my counseling approach is the belief that it is our thoughts which shape our feelings and behaviors, not events.  This means that we do not have to be held captive by our emotions, nor is it impossible to change our behaviors.  In therapy I will listen to your problems but I will also teach you how to step back and identify which of your thoughts are pushing dysfunctional emotions.  You can be sad without being depressed, mad without being enraged, and concerned without being anxious, which means you can respond to and enjoy life in a healthy way.

To treat OCD and phobias I utilize another cogntitive-behavioral technique called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).  It is based on our knowledge that avoiding anxiety provoking situations actually makes the anxiety worse.  With ERP we identify which situations make you anxious then, taking baby steps, we start exposing you to situations which provoke the least anxiety.  As you build skills and success we tackle harder items on your list.  ERP is the ONLY proven therapy for OCD and so it is important that your treatment include this.

I use a technique called Motivational Interviewing (MI) to help you build motivation for change, clarify your goals, and start logging success.  It is an excellent way to begin if you are unsure about making changes in your life.  Even if you know a change needs to be made, there are often things holding us back which MI can help us identify and address.  Using MI I can help you strengthen your motivation to quit smoking, manage a health issue such as diabetes, or take your medication regularly.

In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention, and motivational interviewing I utilize the following skills and techniques:

*Mental Health Education - I believe part of feeling better is having some understanding of what makes you feel bad.  For example, if you have a biological depression it can be helpful to understand what that is and how it effects you.  If you are in a toxic relationship it can help to learn about what toxic relationships do to you.  This understanding can assist you with making healthy changes.  Mental health education also helps you understand what changes will help you feel better.  All my clients are given information for their particular situations.

*Traumatic Incident Reduction - a method for processing traumatic events which enables you to gain perspective on the event and discharge intense, troubling emotions.  Clients reports feeling lasting relief after one session.

*Communication Skills - effective communication is helpful in any situation.  Learning how to express yourself assertively can help you get your needs met, maintain positive relationships, and feel better about life.  Using good communication skills can also be about knowing when to set boundaries with toxic people.

*Family Support - It can be overwhelming, frustrating, depressing, and scary to be the loved one of a person with severe mental illness.  I can help you get the information you need to help yourself and your loved one while also supporting you and your emotional needs.

*Mindfulness - a practice which is about being aware and present in the moment.  It can help you manage when life becomes overwhelming.

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