What follows are the basic principles of psychotherapy as I see it and certain comments about my own practice:
What do clients do in therapy? You talk and are listened to by the therapist.
What do therapists do? We provide a safe nonjudgmental place to encourage you to reach your potential and authentic self. We hear, search, and understand your needs, feelings, and experiences. We listen and intervene when appropriate and helpful. With the mutual participation and earnestness of both client and therapist, a greater chance exists for you to move forward to reach your desired goals.
What you may want to know on my views about my therapy practice:
Please note that some of these comments may not apply in brief therapy, consultations, or couples work.
In between sessions, you may have associations and insights stimulated by the previous session. If these associations occur, consider bringing them up in the next session. Likewise, between sessions, I may come up with my own thoughts and insights. These observations often enhance my understanding of your situation.
I often encourage you to spend some time during the week between sessions to slow down the mind with body - mind- spirit modalities. They can be tools to reduce stress and anxiety. They can facilitate the functioning of intuitive faculties and help to clear the mind about therapy matters. Such activities may include exercise, walking, deep breathing, massage, meditation, gardening, yoga, qi gong, and t'ai chi chih.
Therapy can have moments to discover, feel, and share humor, creativity, spontaneity, and joy.
The duration of therapy is up to you. Ideally, however, both you and I should be in agreement as to when to end the therapy. It should be discussed at least over a few sessions. Premature and sudden endings should be avoided. They often prevent the analysis of important material, the opportunity for honest communication, and understanding the ways to address conflict by means other than withdrawal.
For those interested in reading about improving individual and couples relationships, I recommend the following books:
I have learned that underlying guilt often play an important role in psychological problems. When addressed and worked through, it can often it can lessen self-punishment and feelings of inadequacy. I recommend this book:
If interested in adding a dimension to traditional psychotherapy in the area of philosophy and spirituality I recommend the following books:
There are three stages of consciousness: daily experience consciousness, subconscious, and super consciousness. Conscious mind is daily mind and feelings. Subconscious mind is a repression of facts and emotions that we are not aware of. Superconscious mind is the dimension of intuition, creativity, wisdom, philosophical insights, and spirituality. It is possible in therapy to grow in all these modalities.
I see adults of all ages- young adults, midlife, and seniors. I particularly like working with clients on relationship issues, those dealing with loss and grief, and those with gender issues. I also like to work with students. I have a specialty in adding a philosophy or spiritual dimension to the psychotherapy process, when appropriate.
There are three forums for my psychotherapy sessions: in person, telephone, and skype. Telephone sessions and skype are especially practical for busy business men and women, seniors, and those with travel or health limitations. As to telephone sessions benefits, although I moved to California from New Jersey more than thirteen years ago, I still continue regular sessions with three of my New Jersey clients by telephone.
It is important to remember that the therapy path usually includes plateaus of emotional growth and temporary sadness. Look at the big picture in order to stay on track. The therapeutic experience mirrors life. As you negotiate through the process, you can move towards more understanding, maturity, and equanimity. Insights and breakthroughs unfold only when you are ready to deal with them.
This next commentary is only for those clients who may be interested and open to adding a spiritual dimension to their therapy process. This is a possible adjunct to the main purpose of the therapy. My definition of the word “spiritual” is a very broad one that includes metaphysical, philosophical, universal truths, and wisdom. My broad view of spirituality can be observed in articles in the article section of my website.
Many universal spiritual truths and principles have helped people with many of the physical and mental problems that are being brought up in psychotherapy. After all, spiritual paths have been in existence more than 4000 years ago while psychotherapy was started by Sigmund Freud only 160 years ago.
Spiritual understanding reflects characteristics of love such as: mercy, kindness, unselfishness, compassion, and forgiveness. It also can open avenues of wisdom, creativity, honesty, and integrity
Among religious seekers truths reaching heights of spirituality are Buddha, Jesus, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Moses, the Dalai Lama, and Thomas Merton. Some other seekers who I believe were atheists or agnostics with a deep awareness of spiritual truths were Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Walt Whitman, and Socrates.
There are many practices, techniques as a way to bring on spiritual growth, among which are serving others, meditating, and intellectual readings and study.
I am by no means a scholar of religion or philosophy. But I have had the opportunity to read books, scriptures, and hear tape recordings from many cultures. I have attempted to extrapolate from the illumined and enlightened ones universal truths that can be very practical to add a dimension to problem solving.
How can the above be incorporated into the psychotherapy realm?
One technique that I often do before my client comes into my office is a brief meditation. This puts me in a peaceful mood. By empting my mind I become a better listener and have a better clarity and ideas as to what interventions I should or should not make.
Another private method in my spiritual toolbox is looking at my client and thinking and connecting silently with an uplifting truth that we both share. For example, we both embody an invisible goodness and love. An example of this internal understanding comes from my awareness of the greeting in ancient India where one Indian says to another Indian, “Namaste” and the other echoes the same greeting back. It means the soul of me greets the soul of you. Even in modern India this tradition continues. It is a tradition where one walker in the street saying “hello” to one about to pass him and the passerby repeating the same greeting. It can be vocal or done in silence.
Here are some examples of how I have brought into the session a spiritual reference to hopefully inspire the patient to move forward.