As a therapist of over 3 decades I was reluctant to write anything about the therapy modalities I use, since I combine so many and have created so many variations in technique to meet the needs of the individual, couple, or family. At times I feel like I direct the process, whereas other moments I just watch the beauty of the client unfolding him or herself into a transformed self. Please be aware that the below descriptions are only a small slice of methods and techniques that I use in psychotherapy.
Family Therapy sees change in terms of the system of interaction between family members. I include relatives, grandparents, siblings, etc. For example, once I worked with a grandmother, mother and daughter to break the behavior of physical assault each had inflicted upon the child in each sucessive generation. In marriage counseling, I see each partner individually for one session and then we three meet. In the third session I assess what I perceive is occurring and we decide a plan of interaction to reach certain goals. When I work with an adolescent or child I see the child for one session, then the parents, and then again we all meet together and decide on an outline of what each desires to change. ‘Separate and then Unify in a Different Pattern’ is an important aspect of the therapy that I practice.
The core of the Gestalt Therapy process, originated by Dr. Fritz Perls, is intensified awareness of sense, perception, body feelings, and emotion, all in the present moment. The Empty-chair technique is typically used in Gestalt therapy to explore a client’s relationship with self, parts of their personality, or other people, alive or dead. The technique involves the client addressing the empty chair as if another person or a certain feeling etc. was in it. The client may move between chairs and act out two sides of a power struggle or issue of contention. The client does not ponder, but he instead spontaneously expresses feelings and thoughts as he or she plays out both parts of the dialogue.
EMDR, a psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro, emphasizes that traumatic memories are one cause of psychopathology. EMDR is used for severe trauma that the mind’s memory repeats upon itself (ie. war flashbacks). When a traumatic experience occurs, it may overwhelm the memory, associated stimuli are inadequately processed, and the event is stored in an isolated memory network. The goal of EMDR therapy is to process these distressing memories and reduce the strong, painful feelings associated with the event. The therapy process evolves by having clients recall traumas while following the therapist’s hand movement. In my practice it involves working with the Eye Scan Machine in order to watch lights, or listen to sound, or to feel hand sensors in order to tap into both the right and left brain hemispheres to heal the memory.
Hypnotherapy is a form of deep physical relaxation in which thoughts and feelings can be enhanced or desensitized. I use it with issues of physical pain, remembering past childhood events, and to teach the client techniques for weight loss, exercise, etc. . I can create custom hypnotic tapes for the client to utilize at home.
Homework is a term I use when I give clients assignments to do outside of the therapy session. This may include written lists or essays, action assignments, or even reading a book. Actions can be as simple as saying hello to 5 strangers or as deep as writing one’s own sexual history. Since therapy needs to be transformed into life change this is an important aspect of transferring skills to the real life moment. The client always has the option to refuse or modify the assignment, and if he or she simply ‘forgets’, that can, also, be therapeutic in terms of exploring the obstacle in completing the homework.
The client is a co-creator in selection of techniques. Reluctance or resistance is explored as a therapy tool, also. Therapy is completely created in relationship to the needs and desires of the individual client.