There is nothing quite so tragic as two good people who have fallen from love into confusion. Individually present and well grounded, together they have become unstable, even hateful at times. The groundbreaking research of John Gottman would indicate that this a completely unnecessary and avoidable tragedy in the vast majority of cases. The only statistically significant difference Gottman was able to find between couples who expressed contentment and those who did not was that the happy couples had maintained a shared sense of togetherness, of knowing their partner and feeling known, of feeling they were moving together into a common future. Unhappy couples have lost that shared intimacy, usually by imperceptible degrees over some years, and must work to rediscover it or even to create it for the first time.
There are literally hundreds of types of psychotherapy that have been developed over the years since helping relationships became formalized into professions and academic specialties. Add in techniques of spiritual practice and self development from traditions and cultures around the world, and a bewildering array of options appear for the modern seeker. I look for points of agreement, places of wisdom, in whatever tradition or method calls to you, and I try to meet you there.
This is not a recipe for haphazard eclecticism. There are key principles to healing, yet each person learns these principles in unique ways. Learning to pay careful attention to our internal signs, discovering our subjective truth, formulating what is meaningful to us, these are the sorts of discoveries that show us how we need to heal and what our path forward should be. The signs can be anywhere: in our dreams and fantasies, in how our relationships are playing out, in our motivations, or lack of motivations, in the subtle feelings of our bodies, we just have to learn where and how to place our attention.
Noticing our thoughts, but not necessarily believing them, we often discern an underlying feeling tone that turns out to be organizing those thoughts. Investigating the feeling tone we have identified, we often find formative experiences and beliefs. Carefully inquiring into feelings and beliefs, we discover subtle sensations in the body, habits of holding ourselves in the world that keep the beliefs running deep in the implicit unconscious. Loosening and freeing these holding patterns, we discover an underlying wholeness. The body becomes more supple and healthy feeling. Feelings become fluid, accurate indicators of relational boundaries and personal needs. Thoughts become grounded and useful, or fanciful and creative, instead of neurotic.
Framed in this way, psychotherapy has much in common with contemplative traditions, and so I often recommend meditative practices for those inclined to take them up. Where psychotherapy distinguishes itself from many traditions is that it is avowedly relational. I am there with you, with kindness and warmth, attuning to your process so that I may help guide your inquiry.
Please contact me if you would like to discuss what a psychotherapeutic inquiry might look like for you.
The good news is that this is often possible. I favor an approach that blends pragmatic principles of communication, balancing responsibilities, and showing mutual respect, with investigation of our personal tendencies and exploration of true intimacy. Once past the initial stages of mutual recrimination, couples are encouraged to talk frankly about their concerns and feelings, while also being coached to remain sensitive to how personal history may be filtering their perceptions. As each person hears and is heard in a new way, trust is reestablished and intimacy begins to flower.
One rather fascinating part of being human is that our personality is affected by social context. For example, many people notice changes in how they feel and act depending on who they are with. How we seek to establish relationship, how we go about trying to know others and what we present of ourselves to be known by others are all powerfully determined by our perceptions of the social context. Group psychotherapy is an excellent way of exploring this dynamic relational field and of coming to a deeper understanding of parts of ourselves that often remain out of conscious awareness.
If you have any interest in such work please contact me to be placed on a waiting list. Groups form when six or more people can be gathered at the same time.