When you make the courageous decision to begin psychotherapy, you embark on a journey of exploration that takes you deep within yourself. You’re then challenged to share your discoveries with a stranger, your therapist.
Over time, a relationship develops between you and that stranger. You notice you’ve become attached to and dependent on her, feelings not always comfortable for an adult. Keeping in mind my responsibility to safeguard that trust, I approach psychotherapy as a partnership, never losing sight of the power bestowed on me by my clients’ vulnerability.
A session is a 50-minute-long conversation during which I pay attention to both content and process. My clients’ words detail their concerns, convey their thoughts, describe their experiences and express feelings.
What transpires in the interpersonal field, or more simply, the relationship, carries additional information and great potential for understanding and healing.
We do what we know, and what we know has its origins as far back as our first breath (and probably even earlier). Neuroscience helps us appreciate just how much we learn in the first several years of life. By the age of three, our brain is 90% of adult size while our body is only 15% of what we will grow into.
The brain develops in a lop-sided manner. The right brain, which contains organs responsible for the stress response and other emotional activities, has complete control until age three; the left brain, primarily responsible for intellectual functions like speech content and arithmetical calculations, begins to grow at age two but doesn’t achieve dominance until after age seven.
For the first seven years of our lives, we are mostly emotional beings. Memories of our early experiences, including family relationships, are encoded in the emotional area of our brain (the limbic system). When trauma occurs in a child’s life (for example, abuse of any kind and/or neglect, early medical procedures/illnesses, separation from a parent, illness/death of a parent, war and/or natural disasters) memories take on an intensely negative quality. For self protection, the brain stores emotionally distressing events in the amygdala (part of the limbic system), where they can remain quarantined for many years.
In adulthood, anything reminiscent of the original trauma, even in the slightest way, can summon all the feelings connected to it.
Similarly, what we experienced in early relationships determines our choices of and responses to the significant people in our lives today, including and perhaps especially the therapist. The attachment and dependency inherent in the therapeutic relationship mimics the experience of being a child with one’s parents and has the potential to evoke all the feelings from those earlier times.
Your unconscious reenactment with me of your past brings that history into our work, providing a valuable opportunity to explore, understand and integrate what has before been outside your conscious awareness and yet controlling much of your life.
Understanding our emotions and learning to manage our behavior in connection with them empowers us in all areas of our lives. Using an eclectic mix of modalities, I can assist you in making conscious—and thus integrating—past hurts so that you can live in the present and work toward achieving the life that you desire.