During my years in practice I have helped people with depression, loss, excessive anxiety, relationship problems, self-esteem issues, problems with self-confidence, work-related problems, midlife transitions, blocks in creativity, parenting problems, excessive anger, sexual problems, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, obsessions, compulsions, and psychological problems related to physical illness.
My approach as a therapist and analyst involves working collaboratively with people to address their concerns and goals. I listen carefully to help bring out and understand together the issues that are troubling or that need to be faced for development to proceed. My role is to help create a space for an authentic, genuine dialogue that values the practical realities of life while also attending to personal history and the unconscious dimensions of mind. In other words, what I have to offer is the skill of bringing problems to light in a complete way while fully respecting the patient’s choices regarding how and what he or she wants to do.
Effective psychotherapy or analysis is responsive to the unique needs of the individual in their situation. I hold a holistic perspective that takes into account the biological, psychological, social and cultural context of a person’s life. The way I approach a problem comes through a sufficiently deep exploration of the issue in its complexity, one step at a time, including especially the feelings and thoughts connected with it so the subjective experience of the person is kept at the center of the inquiry. This means thinking together and having an active, engaged two-way dialogue about the person’s life and the particular problems he or she wants to address. Usually what comes out of this inquiry and discussion are new and different ways of seeing oneself and one’s relationships, opening up novel options on how to deal with situations that are troubling or at an impasse. It is not unusual to find through our explorations the paradoxical truth that the problems themselves contain the seeds for their resolution.
People often have questions about therapy when they are considering whether or not it is right for them. Let me address some of the common ones.
Some question how it can help to talk about personal matters with someone they do not know. Experience has shown me that there is a way that the effective analyst or psychotherapist listens with an open heart and mind that conveys a sense of interest and safety. For some people a sense of trust develops within the first few meetings while others take a longer time for it to gradually grow. Also, not every therapist is the right “fit” for every patient. It may take some trial and error before someone finds who they can work with. I do not work well with everyone but for many people, over many years, I am able to form very secure and trusting connections that last as long as the person wishes and that have been very helpful to them.
Some wonder what they will talk about with a psychotherapist or analyst. This is most often a sign that there is worry about starting this process, a feeling that usually goes away fairly quickly. Often individuals discuss what is going on in their lives that is bothering or frustrating them. This may be a relationship, a work situation, aspects of how one feels about himself or herself, upsetting patterns of behavior, disturbing thoughts, feelings of sadness or meaninglessness, worries, and anything else. People often also focus on wishes, goals, dreams and the creative, artistic or spiritual dimensions of their lives.
People also sometimes wonder how long they need to be in therapy. Therapy can be long term but not necessarily. What is much more important than the length of time or the number of sessions per week is the desire to work with issues that are troubling and to become engaged enough with them to create real, lasting change. This requires a sustained effort on the part of both therapist and patient, working as a team, each making necessary and different contributions to the process. The duration and frequency of therapeutic contacts is something that will be determined by each individual as the work proceeds. An essential part of the process of psychotherapy is having an open dialogue about how the therapy is working and whether or not it is addressing one’s needs and wishes.
What about medications? Some problems people face in life are the result of chemical imbalances in the brain. I am not a therapist whose experience has taught him that all psychological problems have biological causes and I do not prescribe medications. However, I know that for some people medication can be the most helpful thing, usually as an adjunct to psychotherapy. Whether or not to use medication as part of psychotherapy is a highly sensitive matter that warrants thoughtful discussion. If a patient in my practice would likely benefit from a trial of medication then I raise this possibility with him or her. If there is an openness to trying it then I make a referral to one of a number of psychiatrist (M.D.) colleagues whose work I know and respect, who can discuss this further with the patient, recommend which particular medication in what dosage might be most effective, and medically monitor their progress while coordinating care with me. In every case, however, the decision as to whether or not to use medication always rests with the patient.
Some individuals are curious about my training as a Jungian psychoanalyst and wonder how working with a Jungian might be advantageous. This is a good question that is challenging to answer in this format. What you should know is that to become a Jungian analyst one must have undergone his or her own extensive analysis first and throughout the years of training. So there is a high degree of self-knowledge as well as knowledge about the psychotherapeutic process from the inside out. Second, becoming an analyst involves four years of additional coursework beyond the person’s most advanced academic degree (in my case, beyond the PhD), close supervision by senior analysts on work with patients during that time, and passage through various evaluating committees on the local and national levels. Finally, and most importantly, Jungian analysis has its own unique culture that truly values both the ways we are all more human than otherwise as well as how we are each needing to come ever closer to our own absolutely unique way of being in life. Jungians value the contributions of the intellect, spirit and soul, particularly as these are revealed in dreams and in all our relationships.
I have been a licensed psychotherapist practicing in San Francisco and the East Bay since 1984. I completed training to become a Jungian analyst at the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco in 2009. In addition to my clinical practice I also write, teach and consult with child and adult psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and MFT’s. You can get a sense of this other work from taking a look at my bio, presentations, and publications. I have dedicated my entire professional life to doing this work – a privilege for which I am deeply grateful.