Working With Me
I make a point of creating safety and trust with clients so they feel heard and understood. I meet people where they’re at and try to tailor what I do to their particular needs. In a sense, I create a new approach for every client that comes along. That being said, I draw from a broad range of modalities that inform my practice, including Internal Family Systems or IFS.
• The Therapeutic Relationship
A safe therapy space is unlike any other. In it one can face things and share things that would be very hard elsewhere. The old saying “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” certainly applies here. Paradoxically the fact that the therapist is someone you don’t have a relationship with outside of therapy enables the freedom to reveal things one might hide otherwise. What also makes it safe is the nonjudgmental, accepting attitude of the therapist, and the commitment to confidentiality and respect of boundaries. My first and most important concern is always to create and maintain that sense of safety and confidence in the process for the client.
The Therapeutic Relationship
In the “safe container” of the therapy space, and with transparency, skill and commitment on my part, the therapeutic relationship can take root and grow. It’s the container, if you will, of the “healing garden.” It is THE key to effective therapy. It is more important than any school, method, philosophy, or approach, because without it nothing else happens. There are several things that need tending in this garden. The first is trust: A sense that you are being understood, that I “get” the concerns and issues you have come to address. You need to feel that what we’re doing and how we’re proceeding is really making a difference. To make that happen I need to deeply listen, and check that I am in my centered, compassionate place inside. I also try to make a habit of checking with you to make sure we're in synch as we go along. My attending to what is going on in the moment is very important. I need to track not only what you are saying, but how you are saying it, what your “body language” tells me, and what is not being said. I need to be able to give you honest feedback in the moment about how I am responding to what you are saying.
This brings us to yet another important element: Transparency. As a therapist I have to constantly be aware of my own shortcomings and blind spots. I am a human being just like you, and only if I own up to my own “stuff” will you feel safe to own up to yours. I need to model that for you. I may offer feedback that misses the mark. You don’t have to accept what I say just because I’m the “expert.” In fact, if I get it wrong, your correcting me is necessary for things to move ahead. Curiosity and compassion can lead the way.
My approach will vary according to client needs and preferences. As I said, in one sense I create a different approach for each client, using different skills and techniques. There are many, many schools of thought and modalities out there for the therapist today. I have studied many of them and feel more at home with some than with others.
I have had many years experience with therapy, both as a patient and as a therapist. I used to tell my clients until a few years ago that I had spent more time on that side of the room, meaning as a patient, than I did on this side. I’ve experienced many different approaches and they all pretty much have value, but the ones that I find myself drawn to are the ones that conceptualize the human psyche as having “parts,” such as Internal Family Systems, which has become my primary way of working.
Internal Family Systems or IFS was developed by a man named Richard Schwartz. To really get a good explanation of it check out their website: https://www.selfleadership.org/.