Working with adults:
As a psychoanalyst I believe that an individual’s feelings and behaviors are motivated by a variety of unconscious factors often occurring when people “feel stuck.” Psychoanalysis helps individuals to begin understanding those factors in themselves and to finally break free of the habits associated with those factors by first discovering their root causes and then to build up significant changes at the very core of their emotional responses. The analytic experience gently leads the patient to essentially re-experience the factors that initiated their ineffective responses. Using these experiences, I help the patient gain insight about the unproductive and destructive patterns of behavior.
Adults who undergo psychoanalysis are generally individuals who may well have experienced successes in life, yet at the same time feel impaired by long-standing depression, anxiety, relationship conflicts, sexual incapacity or inexplicably physical symptoms. Some people come to analysis because, regardless of apparent success in life, things just don’t seem to “work” for them. Anyone considering psychoanalysis will undergo a thorough evaluation before the analytic process ever begins.
Another type of treatment I offer is Psychotherapy. Most people view their lives as a series of experiences: some good, some bad. Often, they don’t see or hide the patterns of behavior or repeated responses that create problems, or underscore stress. In some cases, people blame their experiences on causes outside themselves, or refuse to accept that some of the things that happen to them might be as the result of things that they themselves do. A key element of my approach is to enable patients to develop a good sense of self awareness. Training and experience have taught that helping patients to become more aware of their unconscious habits and reactions to stressors or problems is the first step toward facilitating permanent changes and adjustments in the individual’s world view and the entire flavor of how they reacted and felt in situations that previously impaired them. Recognizing habitual defenses gives a person the first tool toward choosing a different response in challenging situations. Awareness of sensitivity to certain lines of thinking gives an individual the option of responding in more productive ways. In any event, a person cannot change a behavior until he or she first recognizes it in him or herself. Being open to the differences among others in our lives allows more acceptance of one’s own self. Confronting all these matters can result in happier, less stressful, more satisfying relationships and life. My approach is to gently help the patient discover his/her attitudes, habits and behaviors that are not serving their best interests. Together, the patient and I discuss and assess options that can indeed present more life satisfying results.
Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis:
Psychotherapy and Psychoanalytic treatment helps the child or adolescent understand and manage feelings more effectively; recognize and change poor coping strategies; and re-examine negative feelings about him/ herself and others. My goal of treatment is not simply to overcome immediate troubles but to help each child or adolescent reach his or her full potential in all areas of life and to build deep, long-lasting strength and resilience.
The first thing I do is to build a strong, trusting relationship with my patient and to become a partner with the child or adolescent and my patient’s family in understanding the child’s struggles and capabilities. In undertaking this process I rely heavily on work with the parents and do so during every phase of the treatment. In addition to helping the child or adolescent return to the path of normal, healthy development, I aim to strengthen and restore the relationship between my patient and his/her parents.
In addition to my academic doctoral training as a mental health professional I have had extensive post-doctoral training in understanding child development and how a child or adolescent’s mind works. By virtue of my training and experience I am particularly sensitive to the multiple (including biological, genetic, neurological, familial, and social) factors that influence a child’s or adolescent’s personality development. I am always mindful of the importance of developing an understanding of the complex interaction of all these factors in determining each patient’s unique developmental trajectory and establishing an individualized treatment plan specifically tailored for each patient.
Working with children:
I have worked with children throughout my career. I utilize play therapy as an important component of the specialized child psychoanalytic training process that enables me to develop a relationship with the child. Through play the child (often non-verbally) in a non-threatening way can demonstrate recurring issues. In this manner the child leads and creates the content of our sessions. And through this process I can and do develop an understanding of the thoughts and feelings that the child is communicating. As the child plays, I look for and find the underlying meaning of the content of the play and its relation to the presenting issues. It is at that point that I am able to help the child realize and understand those underlying issues.
Play therapy may include the participation of the child’s parents. Using the comfortable vehicle of the play area, I can demonstrate the child’s issues for the parents. This exercise enables the child to feel accurately understood. Parental involvement provides parents with practical methods to use in dealing with problematic behavior at home. The troublesome behavior(s) can thus be reduced in occurrence and intensity.
Play therapy is usually conducted two to four a week in sessions of about 45 min. each. Treatment may range from 6 months (minor adjustment problems) to 2 years or more depending on a variety of factors including symptoms. As an analyst I also coordinate with school teachers and other professionals who relate to the child. Again, working with the parents we can reduce behavioral issues at school and develop an awareness by all relevant of the child’s emotional issues, enabling all to support appropriate emotional changes.
Working with Adolescents:
Parents often recognize a palpable change in their relationship with their youngster as adolescence approaches. The younger child frequently thinks in terms of “super heroes” or other ideals; the adolescent, however, recognizes that ideals are a goal, not a reality. This change can lead to a great sense of loss. Adolescents without the prerequisite skills or strengths to face the changes in themselves, the increased complexity of their relationships, their altered outlooks on their expanding world – including their increasing responsibilities – will run into conflict which can result in social withdrawal, academic problems, self-harm, fighting, and other kinds of acting out. If this does occur, I am available as a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist to consult with both the adolescent and his/her parents to try to understand what will be helpful in getting the adolescent on track.
Adolescent treatment generally takes place face to face and I talk with the teen about what he or she is passionate. We meet a few times a week. Learning is more durable and efficient with consistency and frequency — the reason, for example, that youngsters attend school five days a week. Moreover, teen’s have the need to be back on track as soon as possible in order to moderate the distress experienced by the patient in feeling different and isolated from his/her peers. Success in psychoanalysis is measured in the capacity to think about oneself in a realistic way and to express oneself in words in a way that promotes self-regulation, connection and self protection.
As noted above, parents are an important source of information about the difficulties with which their adolescent is struggling. I can help parents think about the typical developmental tasks that teens need to master. Teaming with parents I can integrate the parents’ knowledge about their child and my knowledge about how the unconscious mind works. Together we can craft a narrative that accurately describes the complexity of the internal struggles the teen is facing, and this is instrumental in helping change take place.