We live in a time where the emotions and passions that make us uniquely human have increasingly become labeled as "disordered." Different ways of thinking and feeling that do not fit societal norms are often pathologized rather than celebrated. Common human experiences, such as anxiety around relationships or sadness over loss, are treated as illnesses rather than natural reactions to difficult events that, when explored with respect, often lead to profound growth and creativity. I see psychotherapy less as a way to learn how to "become normal" and more as a journey that invites you to live a more fully engaged life by embracing all that makes us human and humans together.
Many therapists specialize in one or two particular “disorders;” however, I believe in a more general approach to psychological distress that emphasizes underlying individual and social dynamics rather than focusing on superficial symptoms and specific “disorders.” In my experience, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, sexuality, and identity questions are all components of human experience and merely manifest in different ways and to varying degrees for people. Contemporary diagnosis tends to artificially isolate these various manifestations, giving them ever-proliferating new names; however, despite the diagnosis assigned, the underlying sources of pain are often quite similar. Depression is not separate from anxiety, and in fact, often goes hand-in-hand. Thus, a general approach to psychological distress allows me to take into account all aspects of your life rather than simply focusing on a handful of symptoms. It allows us to explore your life in richer detail by not reducing your distress to a simple name or conglomeration of symptoms. As a psychologist, I believe in honoring human complexity and in empowering those who seek to create greater freedom for themselves and our social world.
This practice is rooted in the foundational beliefs that:
1) Psychological distress is not something simply "wrong" with our inner self. Believing that all psychological distress is biological or caused by one's inability to "manage" one's feelings appropriately, leaves out the very real impact our social world has upon us. While psychological symptoms are often experienced internally, they are often reflections of social and cultural issues. Comprehensive psychotherapy entails exploring not only internal feelings but the way our culture impacts us and defines what we view as "normal." It requires that we look at our interconnectedness rather than falsely isolating people from their environments.
2) Much of our present-day suffering stems from repression of the feminine. Repression of the feminine affects all members of society, not just those born biologically female, and is no longer tolerable. Repression of the feminine leads to any number of psychological issues including anxiety, depression, questions regarding subjectivity, relationship difficulties; in fact, there is little that is not affected by it. In contemporary culture, such repression is often so insidious that people act against their own interests, often aligning with patriarchal philosophies that have structured reality to such a degree as to veil the violence hidden in such philosophies. It is not only womxn who suffer under the current paradigm, but all human beings. For example, under the contemporary cultural rules, men are limited to playing certain roles that constrict their emotional lives and thus inhibit their freedom to explore and embody all that is available. Traditional ideas of “masculinity” and “femininity” create categories that do not allow for the full spectrum of being and disallow those things that resist the neatness of such categorization. This inevitably leads to psychological suffering for all.
3) The work we do is vital to our well-being. As people, we need to be connected to our work and feel that it matters. Unfortunately, "work" has become synonymous with "a way to pay the bills" rather than being experienced as a creative function that allows us to act upon the world and express our creativity. Many people feel disconnected from the products of their labor, feel as though they are just making money for someone else, or feel their work simply doesn't matter. This leads to profound disillusionment and feelings of powerlessness as people feel increasingly unable to express themselves through their work or impact the world around them. Our work should vitalize us and act as a creative force that is transformative of both ourselves and our society.
This practice is devoted to creating greater freedom for engagement with life and to creating systemic change that encourages a more inclusive, just, and open society.