I base my practice of psychotherapy on a number of ideas and values that I describe below. If these values are congruent with yours, or if you hold similar aspirations, our work together will be enhanced. Taken together, the following make up my pledge of how I will engage in therapy with you:
I recognize that the therapeutic relationship cannot be impersonal. I believe that the primary engine of good therapy is a genuine, caring, human relationship. Without that, there is no connection enough to form insights about who you are, or support enough to help you confront and explore the pain you feel. But a good therapeutic relationship can offer a template for other satisfying relationships, it can be a source of support and courage and, sometimes, even just give you the comfort that someone out in the world cares about you.
I promise to honor your experience and your expertise: No one knows, better than you, what your daily struggles are. Part of how I respect you is to not pathologize your troubles—that is, I do not approach them as symptoms of a psychological disease. From my point of view, the problems you endure arise from the unique context of who you are, events in your life, and the world around you that either assists you or hinders you in your efforts to cope. My goal is to add my perspective to your experience so that together we may find a way through the difficulties you face.
I believe that our efforts toward mental health are supported when we don’t treat our physical health with indifference or contempt. Part of our work together will be indentifying the ways you already take care of your physical self and how we can augment, add to, or change these habits. This doesn’t mean I want you to train for triathlons during your therapy work with me (I certainly won’t be doing any!) but that I will encourage you to treat your physical body with care and respect, including feeding it good food, letting it sleep, letting it move, and not calling it names. This sounds simple, but for many of us this kind of self-care and self-respect is more difficult than it seems at first.
We do the best we can. Even when things aren’t going well for you, I will recognize how you are moving through life the best you can. And I will work to help you have compassion for yourself and for your efforts to change, even if you are frustrated or feel stuck. Compassion for ourselves allows us to examine our lives, motives, and actions without blame or rancor and facilitates the change we want to make.
Therapy is hard work. I value humor and I use it in therapy to help support the effort of working through difficult emotional issues. This doesn’t mean I will make light of your problems, or that I will let you get away with making light of them. But it does mean I appreciate humor for the flash of insight it often provides, for the moment of relief it offers, and for the opportunity it gives us to step back and take a different perspective on the issues we face.
I am not wedded to any one technique, approach, or point of view. You are a unique individual and by necessity I will be flexible in my work with you. At different times, different people want more or less direction, more or less challenging, more or less problem-solving and more or less exploration. Together, we will develop a pace and style of therapy that works best for you. And I will be alert to the possibility of adjusting my approach as necessary, for there are some times when therapy stalls and can start to move again if we take a different tack.