What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Seeking out therapy is a personal choice and a step that is not easy for many people. In our modern, fast-moving, high-demanding world, we are often expected to be strong, highly independent and invulnerable, which often means disguising feelings of distress and vulnerability and minimizing our healthy need for help and support.
If you are reading this page, you are probably concerned about some aspect of your emotional, mental and/or interpersonal life. You might be going through a particularly difficult time in your life, such as major life change (e.g., divorce, cultural-transition), loss of a loved one or the aftermath of a traumatic event. Or, you may be struggling to manage more long-lasting emotional difficulties, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, difficulty cultivating and/or sustaining personal relationships, dissatisfaction in work and creative blocks.
There are many reasons why people seek out help but almost anyone can benefit from psychotherapy. It can serve different functions, depending on one’s goals and needs at any given time. We are relational beings. As such, we often find it is helpful to simply know that someone understands our experiences and struggles. Most people can benefit from a supportive and objective sounding board that can shed some light on their difficulties, help them analyze current ways of thinking and behaving, and guide them as they explore new and more effective ones.
What can psychotherapy be helpful with?
Psychotherapy can help you with a number of different issues. You can:
- Attain a better understanding of yourself and your personal goals.
- Develop skills and tools for improving the quality of your relationships.
- Effectively reduce depression and anxiety.
- Repair early attachment ruptures and failures.
- Enhance the process of healing from trauma.
- Decrease feelings of isolation and alienation.
- Decrease nagging feelings of inner emptiness and futility.
- Improve communications skills – learn how to listen to others and have others listen to you.
- Get “unstuck” from unhealthy patterns – break old behaviors and develop new ones.
- Improve your self-esteem and boost self-confidence.
- Find better ways to cope with stress and balance in your personal and professional life.
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my own problems.
It is very common to take pride in own our ability to confront and resolve the challenges life presents us with. And, while you may have been able to manage life’s challenges for the most part, it is also important to recognize when you need help and support. Seeking help is a sign of strength. For many people, inflexible reliance on self-sufficiency could become a source of difficulty in of itself. It often leads to feeling alone, isolated and disconnected from the support of others. Over time, it creates a mental “one-person system” that limits collaboration, interpersonal exchange, meaningful relationships and emotional intimacy. As with most meaningful interpersonal experiences, psychotherapy requires the presence of another mind to facilitate a process of change and growth. By allowing someone else to offer you support and guidance, you can discover new insights and creative solutions that you may not have been able to see on your own.
Isn’t therapy only for very serious mental problems?
Not at all! Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness and working toward positive change. When our body gets mildly hurt or injured, it has various mechanisms to minimize feelings of pain and hurt. One of these ways is building a protective tissue (scar tissues) around the hurt area. Though initially this mechanism is quite helpful and efficient, it could become a source of new problems if the original injury is not taken care of properly and/or there are repeated injuries. Over time, the scar tissue continues to expand, layer upon layer, until it gradually becomes a source of pain and discomfort.
A very similar process takes place in our psyche. Various mental mechanisms protect us against some emotional hurt, pains, disappointments, rejections and neglect. But, over time, if left unattended, the previously helpful “scar tissue” grows beyond its usefulness. It can lead to new difficulties, such as emotional symptoms. Symptoms are not only a source of pain, discomfort and distress, but also our mind’s way of saying: “this is too much,” ”something is not quite right” and “you need to help.” Listening and attending to those signals is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that you are ready to take care of yourself.
What is Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is a broad term used to define several different approaches aim to enhance a person’s mental and emotional health. Although there are different kinds of psychotherapy, they all rely on the fundamental beliefs that there is more depth and complexity to each of us than meets the eye, and in the presence of another mind “when one talks, it gets lighter.”
Psychotherapy is a meeting of two minds: the patient and the therapist. It is a heart-to-heart, intimate talk. It’s a process of self-discovery and allowing yourself to be found amidst vague anxieties, debilitating sadness, discouraging failures, aloneness and disconnection that are obscuring your true self.
Throughout my career as a psychotherapist, I’ve studied various forms of psychotherapy, but ultimately came to firmly believe in the effectiveness of deep, insight-oriented psychotherapy – or, as it is often called, “psychodynamic psychotherapy.”
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a therapeutic process that helps people to increase awareness of their inner world and its influence over life in the external world. It helps clients to discover, understand and change complex, deep-seated, emotion-based and often unconscious patterns that can be found at the root of their emotional pain. Through the therapeutic process, you can gain a greater sense of freedom to make more informed choices about your life.
What does a psychodynamic psychotherapist do?
Drawing on my experience and knowledge of the human psyche and the practice of psychotherapy, I work with you as a fellow traveler in your therapeutic journey, helping you to find the path through the issues you are struggling with. In a safe and contained environment, I provide you with the opportunity to speak about issues and experiences that you may have never had to chance to talk or even think about before. Gradually, you can clarify the confusing, buried issues that caused you pain and distress. You can gain a greater sense of control over your emotional state, behavior and thoughts, rather than feeling controlled by them.
The idea that a psychotherapist has a map of your mind – or somehow knows your secret needs and desires – and therefore can easily provide a solution to your problems is false and disrespectful to you. Each person arrives at a particular state of being through a very individual journey. You are a complex person with a full, rich history. Therefore, in this therapeutic journey, we both engage in thinking about and, reflecting on the issues you’re struggling with in order to better understand how you might have arrived at this point and work to finding a meaningful path toward change, growth and healing.
What if I need medication(s)?
In some situations, medication could provide a relief from the intensity of your symptoms. However, it is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems is not medication alone. Therapy is better able to address the nature of your emotional difficulties, achieve long-lasting changes and produce sustainable growth. In some situations, integrating psychotherapy with medication is found to be the most effective course of treatment. Only psychiatrists and MDs are licensed to prescribe medication, and I maintain a close working relationship with a variety of psychiatrists who are knowledgeable, ethical and compassionate. If you and I agree that you could benefit from medication, I can refer you as needed.
What can I expect from you, as my therapist?
You can expect me to truly BE there. To create a safe environment where you feel contained and supported – where you no longer have to struggle alone. To share your unique journey without judgment. To weather with you the “storms” of intense feelings and help you to safely get through them. To listen attentively to everything you say and help you find words for the experiences that seem confusing and un-nameable. To be a compassionate and understanding towards whatever it is that is on your mind. To be patient toward the challenges that arise as you make meaningful changes and welcome new experiences. To help you to discover who you are: your thoughts, feelings, fears, needs and triumphs.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu
If you are looking for therapy in Los Angeles, please feel free to email me and make the first step in your journey of healing, growth and self-discovery. I’m looking forward to speaking with you.