Psychotherapy can benefit anyone who is experiencing a situation or a feeling with which they are having difficulty, as well as people who are doing well in their lives but feel that they would like to go from “good” to “great”. After all, even athletes who have exceptional talents usually have a coach in order to maximize their potential.
The field of positive psychology focuses on science-based techniques and approaches to life that can increase your level of happiness and well-being, with a focus on strengths rather than weaknesses. We never stop learning and growing! It is now an established fact that our brains continue to change throughout life, so we are never too old to make positive modifications to our ways of perceiving, being and acting.
While I use a variety of therapeutic modalities with my clients, based on each person’s situation and need, I’ve found that Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) principles are helpful to the majority of my clients. CBT is based on the idea that your thoughts and beliefs are major contributors to your feelings and behaviors. In other words, external things, such as people, situations and events, do not cause your problems as much as your interpretations and reactions do. With guidance and practice, you can alter the way you think in order to feel and act more skillfully, even if those external irritations do not shift. In addition, through practicing more constructive thought patterns and behaviors, your circumstances can often change for the better.
CBT can produce effective results in a relatively short period of time, due to CBT’s focused and action-oriented approach. CBT is an education in how to unlearn specific patterns and reactions, as well as an education in a new way of reacting. Such fundamental changes can have lasting results in many areas of your life.
I also use an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) approach with clients. ACT is similar to CBT, with the added elements of mindfully accepting difficult feelings and current life challenges while also determining one’s highest values and taking needed steps to live in alignment with these values. As such, ACT involves an in-depth look at what is really important to you and keeping that vision in mind when life throws you curveballs. Often depression or anxiety can stem from not knowing what really matters to you in the big scheme of things, what makes (or could make) your life meaningful. ACT can help to focus and direct you, even in exceptionally tough times.
In addition, I utilize a mindfulness-based approach to mood and stress management as well as compulsive or addictive behaviors such as emotional eating, other eating disorders, and substance abuse. The practice of mindfulness, defined as nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment, is another powerful tool in improving your sense of well-being and ability to respond effectively to life’s inevitable challenges. Mindfulness can also aid in effective management of chronic physical conditions.
When uncomfortable feelings, thoughts, or circumstances arise, sometimes you can find yourself automatically reacting in ways that don’t benefit you in the long run, such as lashing out in anger, turning to alcohol, drugs, or food, or falling into despair. Mindfulness training can enable you to recognize your habitual patterns in a manner that is compassionate while also realistic. Learning mindfulness during therapeutic sessions and then applying this in your everyday life can greatly increase your ability to cope with difficult situations.
CBT and mindfulness are components of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a new and effective treatment for emotions that seem out of control, alcoholism and other addictions, eating disorders, and depression. Such techniques can be learned and practiced in either an individual or group format, according to preference and need.
When working with couples, I use Gottman Method techniques, which are backed by over 40 years of research and clinical application. If one or both partners in the relationship are involved in 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, or Overeaters Anonymous, we can incorporate 12-Step principles into our work together.
When your body suffers, be it from a physical illness or trauma, your emotions and relationships are affected. On the flip side, when you deal with chronic emotional stress or a conflictual relationship, your body “hears” you and can be thrown off-balance, which can contribute to illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, autoimmune disorders, and chronic fatigue. While genetics and just plain bad luck certainly play roles in developing physical illnesses, it can be a life-changer to take a good look at how your relationships with others, yourself, and the world in general could be shifted, to enhance your healing process.
Finally, I believe that personal growth and healing are enhanced when the process involves fun and creativity as well as dedicated work. As a result, I also offer educational workshops and groups in my private practice and in the community on topics such as improvisation and communication, the art of happiness, the healthy mind/healthy body connection, self-compassion, overcoming fear and anxiety, healthy vs. emotional eating, getting through the holidays, and more, to teach you enjoyable and applicable skills. Please see the Groups & Workshops section for more information.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 365-1632 if you have any questions or wish to arrange an initial therapy session.