“You helped me get my light back.”
My goal as a therapist is to continue to integrate my thoughts, training, and experience into a way of being a therapist rather than a list of therapy techniques I do to people so that conversations are natural, warm, genuine, and even fun. I have been deeply influenced by many great therapists, psychologists, teachers, and philosophers from various schools of thought. What stands out to me about most great therapists is not their use of techniques as hammers to solve problems, but how gracefully they blend technique into conversation as if it were nothing out of the ordinary to ask a beautiful question or to suggest a piece of wisdom.
In a typical counselling session I will be focused on hearing what you have to say, asking questions to further explore relevant topics and possibilities, doing my best to understanding your life experiences, and providing any useful feedback and practical suggestions I can in order to help you solve or relieve current life difficulties. I will likely draw upon methods from various schools of therapy such as Adlerian Individual Therapy, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, Cognitive-behavioral therapy, Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy, Humanistic Psychotherapy, Existential Therapy, Experiential Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Mindfulness and Body-Centered Psychotherapies, and even Sex Therapy. Additionally, I believe it is important to consider problems with a wide range of knowledge and perspectives in order to find solutions that work for you: biological, emotional, psychological, social, philosophical, scientific, relational—whatever is needed to generate what is helpful for you.
Adlerian Individual Therapy
“To see with the eyes of another, to hear with the ears of another, to feel with the heart of another.” — Alfred Adler
Although I do not consider myself locked into any one system of therapy, a typical session with me is very reflective of the Adlerian style. I believe that therapists pick schools of therapy to study because it fits something about their own personality. Sometimes you’ll meet a therapist and just think “well of course they would be a psychoanaylist.” I suppose it’s not different from my sense of “feeling right” about Adlerian Individual Therapy. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s fairly competent, and so: I suppliment it with other therapies and techniques where appropriate. As far as personality of the therapist goes, according to Diane Gehart, Adlerian therapists are often quite encouraging, very optimistic and hopeful about their clients. They tend to see the best in their clients and maintain a fundamental belief that clients can change their lives in more meaningful ways. On top of that I think we have a good sense of humour and communal benefit.
Adlerian Individual Therapy is one of the original forms of psychotherapy that has continued to be honed and developed over the last century. It is a holistic perspective which not only works on solving practical problems of daily life, but also focuses on each person’s overall life trajectory which relates to their deeper emotional landscape and learned patterns. Adlerians call this life trajectory the “style of life” which can be defined as the conscious and unconscious pattern/habits each of us develops and uses to respond to the main tasks of living (i.e. friendships, romantic relationships, work, family life, leisure, etc). It is one of the few psychotherapies to incorporate “depth” and projective techniques into therapy. Adlerian Individual Psychology is grounded in a developmental perspective that considers biological, psychological, social, environmental, and childhood experiences that have impacted and shaped who you are. Adlerian psychotherapists believe that how we remember the past is crucial for how we steer our future self, and so: it is common to work with the content of past memories and experiences as well as future goals and wishes.
Adlerians believe that in order to develop a healthy psychological way of being, we must achieve a feeling of gemeinschaftsgefühl—a safe and secure sense of belonging to a community and a mutual interest in the well-being of others. When we achieve that state of psychological well-being we develop a sense of freedom, of safety, of happiness, and of courage. It is not unusual for clients to experience these types of feelings in therapy which then helps them to take the necessary risks to improve their life. However, impediments to that feeling of community leave us feeling isolated, rejected, resentful, inferior to others, and incapable. We may try many unhealthy strategies to cope with these feelings, develop harmful patterns, some people paradoxically build success as a result of coping with this insecurity which helps them achieve but feel uneasy inside. Adlerian Individual Therapy is about analyzing that path and providing psychological relief from the suffering that drives us towards suffering so that we can refocus our energies on more meaningful paths to joy, success, and happiness.
If you’d like to know more about Adlerian Individual Therapy, this video by Dr. Diane Gehart is a wonderful resource.