The First Step

Each of the posts on this site addresses a psychological conflict or emotional fact I’ve come to regard as central to the human experience.  I try to illustrate these issues with examples from my own psychotherapy practice or personal life.  At the end of each post, the section Finding Your Own Way contains some suggestions for how to use these ideas to further your journey of personal growth.

If you’ve had some therapy before, begin by accepting that the issues you dealt with are more than likely still active in one way or another.  My own therapist told me on many occasions that we can never get rid of any part of our psyche; we can only hope to grow and develop other aspects of ourselves to cope with the problem areas.  As you wander through this site, begin with the same assumption:  you can’t unload any of your baggage along the journey, but enlarging self-awareness and growing new emotional capacities will make the load much easier to carry.

Unlike most other self-help resources, this site aims to help you confront feelings and conflicts outside of awareness, not to conquer a familiar issue.  I’m less interested in teaching techniques for how to manage anxiety, say, than to show how disowned emotions can lead to panic attacks, and to help visitors move closer to those feelings — as any good therapist would do.  In order to make use of this site, you’ll have to do most of the work, of course, just as you’d have to do if you were in face-to-face psychotherapy.  I often remind my clients of the obvious:  “I’m here with you for 50 minutes each week; the rest of the time you’re on your own.”  The challenges contained in these posts are be integrated into your daily life and into your ongoing practice of self-reflection.  Find the ones that resonate with your experience and see how far they can take you along the road.

Choosing a Therapist with a Psychodynamic Perspective

If you value my approach but feel that going it alone isn’t for you at the moment, here are some guidelines for choosing a therapist who might have a compatible orientation.  I’ll begin with some general suggestions about how to interview any mental health professional; I’ll conclude with specific suggestions for finding one who’ll offer you insights and guidance similar to those provided on this site.

First of all, remember that you are the customer and you have the right to ask as many questions as you like about the potential therapist’s background and credentials.  What degrees does he have and where did he earn them?  What professional licenses does she hold?  Is she a marriage and family therapist, a psychologist, a social worker, a psychiatrist (which means holding a medical degree)?  You can ask about internships, where they received their on-the-job training, and how many years they’ve been practicing.  If you’re in pain and hungry for help, it’s difficult to remember that you need to make an informed decision, the best you can make, and not simply sign on for treatment because one of your friends recommended her own therapist, or your physician referred you to his colleague. The answers themselves may not mean a lot to you (one university versus another, for example) but the process of interviewing the potential therapist can give you a lot of insight.  You might find she’s an authoritarian type who feels irritated by being questioned; maybe he seems insecure about his background and lacks the kind of confidence and experience you need. Beware the charismatic therapist who exudes the over-confident aura of knowing everything