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Theoretical Orientation and Treatment Philosophy

Greetings! I went into the mental health field because I have a passion for helping people and improving societal problems. I became a professor so that I could have multiple levels of impact in helping people through research, teaching, therapist training, and direct clincial services--each of which is mutual informative and helps increase my effectiveness in helping clients. I use a variety of approaches and techniques to help my clients address various issues that they are struggling with to achieve their goals .As a professor and scientist-practitioner, I utilize an evidence-based approach in my psychotherapy practice. We know that non-directive supportive therapy (NDST) does not work. In order for clients to improve, clients need to not only develop greater insight and awareness into their problems, but also cultivate concrete and specific skills to help them solve their problems. I have been trained in a variety of theoretical orientations and treatment methods, and I will individually tailor your treatment plan to you and the issues you are struggling with. 


I take a culturally effective approach to integrating cognitive- behavioral, psychodynamic/analytic, and solution-focused treatment modalities to help improve client’s lives. I have also been trained in a variety of other techniques (e.g., dialectical behavioral therapy, mindfulness based cognitive therapy, structural and strategic family therapy, Gottman style couples therapy). I can work within one modality (e.g., CBT or psychodynamic) if that's what the client prefers, or I can take an integrative approach to care. In doing so, I take a historical and developmental approach to identifying the causal factors that lead to problem development and help clients learn practical strategies to improve otucomes. I also examine individual and environmental factors that continue to make change difficult. For example, whether an individual is using maladaptive defense mechanisms that are antithetical to their goals and impede progress. Or, whether intergenerational transmission of communication patterns and problematic relational dynamics are replaying in their current relationship. I also take a holistic and strength-based approach that integrates Eastern and Western approaches to care. Critical to healing is learning several strategies to regain mastery over your nervous system (e.g., mindfulness and meditation techniques), which facilitates problem remission and reduces chances of recurrence. 

I also challenge clients to reflect upon their patterns of thinking and approaches to solving problems. Rather than just focusing on maladaptive patterns and perceptual distortions, I take a strength-based approach to helping clients think in more healthy and effective ways. This requires getting outside of tunnel vision, framewswitching, thinking both broadly and deeply, and engaging in perspective taking from multiple lenses (e.g., emotional, rational, and wise minds). I utilize educational pedagogy (e.g., active learning approaches, multi-sensory techniques, and scaffolding of knowledge) to help ensure that the skills the clients learn will consolidate in their memory and be accessible to them when they need it.    

I also provide communication training to help clients address interpersonal issues more effectively, and reduce the likelihood that they will repeatedly have the same argument, which often manifests in different ways. Key to helping people reset and improve their relationships is demonstrating gratitude and also learning how to apologize effectively through a multi-part or deep apology. Moreover, clients also need to learn how to let go of anger and resentment, and be open to accepting other people’s bids. This allows for healing to occur and loving feelings to flourish again. Essential to improving communication is using a soft or gentle start up, and avoiding what the Gottman’s call the 4 horsemen of relationships (e.g., criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness).

I offer psychoeducation on the latest research regarding the issues that my clients are struggling with, and provide them with academic and popular readings to facilitate serlf-study and improve awareness. Educated clients are better situated to regain control over their life and situations. Clients will learn about stress management, diathesis-stress or stress-vulnerability theory, stress-performance curves, stress and inflammation, reacting versus responding, attachment theory, parenting strategies, and concepts such as flooding. Since mental health issues are really mind-body illnesses, a holistic approach that includes a healthy diet, exercise, and conection with nature can help expedite improvement and prevent relapse of problems. We will also evaluate and capitalize on your extant strengths, as psychotherapy should not only focus on problems, but also on positivity, improving self-esteem and self-actualizing one's full potential.

The above are just some examples of how I approach helping my clients. Although the skill level of your therapist may play a major role in treatment outcome, it is important to keep in mind that psychotherapy is a collaborative process. Clients need to be open to feedback and change if they want their lives to be different. Therapists also need to be open to learning and changing strategies as well, and as a professor, I am constantly doing research and learning about new theories and techniques that can help my clients with their problems. Psychotherapy is not a quick fix and many people have been struggling with their problems for years. However, through hard work and perseverance, I will do my best to help you improve your life and situation. I will provide you with individualized care and help you better understand your issues, teach you practical techniques, and challenge you to approach problems in effective and healthy ways.

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