Affect Regulation & the Healthy Expression of Emotion
We encourage the people we work with to expand and integrate a fuller range of their emotional spectrum, as we work together to describe or find the right words to put to feelings, including contradictory feelings, feelings that are troubling or threatening, and feelings that we may not be able to recognize.
This technique is based upon the idea that blocked or restricted emotion can undermine our ability to feel healthy, whole, and balanced; limited emotional experience of ourselves also tends to generate depressive, anxious, or "manic" symptoms.
This clinical approach is in contrast to what is often considered a more "cognitive" focus, where therapists place greater emphasis on the importance of mere thoughts and beliefs.
Recurring Themes & Patterns
Many have come to us because they are all-too aware of the unpleasant or non-adaptive, recurring themes and patterns in their lives. These may be related to the experience of being drawn to a type of partner that leaves one feeling empty or wanting; others can be related to patterns of sabotage at work or beyond. These recurring patterns are painful and self-defeating; they almost always present as if seemingly impossible to break.
Whether you are aware of these patterns or not, we find that notable improvements are often achieved by finding the right words to identify or link to them. Our therapists are trained to help those we work with experience the curative or healing effects of dynamic insight. These insights empower individuals to make better choices when faced with the "not this again" experiences of recurring themes and patterns.
Relationships: In & Out of Session
Most of our psychological difficulties arise when problematic interpersonal patterns begin to interfere with our ability to meet emotional needs. The best examples of these often emerge (in some form or another) in the relationship that generates between therapists and those with whom they work. For example, a person who is prone to distrust others will sometimes view the therapist with suspicion; or, a person who fears disapproval, rejection, or abandonment may fear, even unknowingly, the therapist's rejection. The recurrence of interpersonal themes in the therapy relationship provides a unique opportunity to explore and rework them in vivo.
The goal is greater flexibility and an enhanced capacity to meet interpersonal needs. This helps us free ourselves from the bonds of past experience in order to live more fully in the present.
One does not have to be a victim of genocide, displacement, or death to be a victim of trauma. It happens to many of us. In fact, statistics that show the average occurrences of trauma are staggering. (For examples, click here and here.) Furthermore, trauma affects not only those who are directly exposed to it, but also our loved ones. Regardless, by definition, trauma is intrusive and distressing. Furthermore, this is not the result of a lack of willpower, bad character, or a moral failing.
Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD identifies three avenues for treating trauma.
First, "top down" or talk-therapy. This involves "reconnecting with others" in order "to understand what's going on with us." This also involves allowing ourselves to, simultaneously, process the memories of our trauma(s).
Second, by taking medicines that "shut down inappropriate alarm reactions, or by utilizing other technologies that change the way the brain organizes information."
Finally, we can treat trauma "bottom up," he writes, "...by allowing the body to have experiences that deeply and viscerally contradict the helplessness, rage, or collapse that result from trauma."
Oftentimes, all three treatment avenues work in harmony with one another, but we celebrate the third by emphasizing the clinical need to promote and encourage changes that occur for one on a "gut" level, rather than merely in the mind. In other words, we believe that one must feel curative differences as a bodily event (i.e., in the body), rather than simply to understand them.
Many of the ideas and phrasings on this page are taken from the following sources: