The future depends onwhat you do in the present
African American Couple

Counseling Approaches




 
 

Humanistic Counseling
Humanistic Counseling is a family of counseling approaches that focus on what it means to be fully human. Of course, what is most important in my work with you is what you find to be most important in living a fully human and fully satisfying life.  As we explore your own experiences and hopes, we may address critical issues such as your values, what brings meaning to your life, your relationships, your work, and issues related to creativity, intuition, personal growth, social justice, diversity, and interdependence. In the process, I assume that you are the expert of your life and have the knowledge you need to make the important choices you desire.  Together we will work toward uncovering and building upon that knowledge so that you may be able to create the life and relationships for which you hope.

For more information about humanistic counseling, I invite you to review these websites:
What is Humanistic Psychology?
Association for Humanistic Counseling
Person-Centered (Rogerian) Therapy

 

Internal Family Systems 

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a holistic approach to counseling that integrates mind, body, and spirit, while helping you release the pain that brings you to seek counseling.  IFS recognizes that we naturally have many different subpersonalities – or parts – within us. Sometimes, parts hold deep wounding from our experiences (e.g., abuse, trauma, relational pain, etc.) and are in need of healing.  In counseling, we work together to get to know the parts that exist within your mind and body, help the ones that are in pain to heal, and then assist all your parts work together in harmony with one another.  The process can lead to greater wholeness and help you access more of your natural energy and resources.

IFS was recently listed on the national counseling/psychotherapy registry (National Registry for Evidence-Based Programs and Practices) as effective or promising for the following concerns and struggles:

  • Improving general functioning and well-being
  • Phobia, Panic, and Generalized Anxiety
  • Physical Health Conditions and Symptoms
  • Personal Resilience and Self Concept
  • Depression and Depressive Symptoms

 
For more information about IFS, I invite you to review the following website:
Center for Self Leadership


Transpersonal/Spiritual Approaches
Transpersonal approaches recognize the transformative nature of sacred or spiritual experiences that move us beyond our individual selves to something larger.  If religion, spirituality, and/or a sense of meaning are important in your life, it can sometimes be helpful to incorporate them into counseling conversations and activities.  We can do this in a number of ways: by talking about your spiritual beliefs and experiences, by incorporating sacred practices into our work together, and by grounding your ongoing development in your tradition or practice.  Whether you identify as Buddhist, Pagan, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, New Age, or Atheist, in our counseling together, know that your religious or spiritual perspectives will be respected. My goal is to help you access your beliefs, values, and experiences in order to promote your own growth and life-choices.    

Solution-Focused Approaches 

When we are in a place where we feel stuck, sometimes engaging in specific activities or practices can help us gain a new perspective or new skills.  Among the specific activities or practices we use in counseling or that I may recommend between counseling sessions are Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Guided Imagery, Clinical Hypnosis, and/or Mindfulness Practices.  I've provided a brief description of each of these counseling interventions below.  If you are interested in obtaining more information about them or are wondering whether they may be helpful to you, I'll be happy to discuss them further with you in person.  

 

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
EMDR is a counseling intervention that has been found to be effective for persons who are struggling with the effects of trauma in their life.  The intervention was developed by Francine Shapiro and assists clients to heal the painful sensations, thoughts and emotions that often result from experiences of trauma. EMDR uses bilateral stimulation (e.g., moving the eyes back and forth, tapping the right and left knees, or listening to music that moves between the right and left ears, etc.) to unlock traumatic images, sounds, and emotions in the nervous system.  Research has shown that EMDR is an effective treatment for reducing disturbing symptoms of trauma, resolving the trauma, and for developing a person's coping skills.  In addition to trauma, EMDR has been used to treat other struggles as well, including stress, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and grief.

EMDR Institute, Inc.
EMDR International Association (EMDRIA)
Video Introduction to EMDR as presented on 20/20


Guided Imagery
Guided Imagery is a technique that assists you in tapping into your imagination for a specific purpose, while in a relaxed state of being.  During the process, you may be guided to imagine images, sounds, sensations, or emotions related to your goals for counseling. During a relaxed state of consciousness we can experience a greater sensitivity to the images and actions which we imagine in our mind's eye.  A relaxed state of consciousness can also promote access to subconscious and/or intuitive knowledge that may otherwise be more difficult to retrieve in our normal conscious state of being.  

For more information on guided imagery, I invite you to review the following websites:
Health Journeys
Academy for Guided Imagery
Research Studies

Clinical Hypnosis 

Clinical hypnosis has been defined as a state of inner absorption, concentration, or focused attention which assists a client in altering some aspects of thought, emotion, behavior, or perception.  As such, it shares several similarities with guided imagery, such as focusing attention on the inner experience, helping clients experience a more relaxed and focused state of consciousness, and addressing a specific goal.  However, clinical hypnosis often includes more directive and specific guiding statements than is true of guided imagery. This is because the aim of many forms of clinical hypnosis is to help clients change their thoughts and behaviors related to an area of struggle (for example, anxiety, weight loss, chronic pain, etc.). Additionally, clinical hypnosis can help clients reach deeper states of relaxation...although, in my work with you, the depth of relaxation acheived will always be up to you.

For more information about hypnosis, I invite you to review the following websites:
American Society for Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH)
Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (SCEH)


Both Guided Imagery and Clinical Hypnosis have been used for a variety of purposes, including:

 

  • Reducing stress or anxiety
  • Decreasing symptoms of depression
  • Working through grief
  • Reducing pain
  • Decreasing adverse side effects of chemotherapy
  • Increasing performance skills
  • Accessing intuition and your own inner knowing
  • Clarifying your goals and direction

Whether clinical hypnosis or guided imagery is best for you depends on your preferences, your susceptibility to focused and relaxed states of consciousness, and goals for counseling.  Therefore, it will be important to discuss these options thoroughly and assess whether or not they are likely to be effective for you before using either.

Mindfulness Practices

Mindfulness has been defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.  Engaging in mindful practices has been shown to be helpful for people who experience anxiety and intense emotions.  Often Mindfulness activities lead to increased concentration abilities, letting go of intense self-judgments, greater acceptance of what is happening in our lives, and states of increased relaxation.