Psychotherapy

The word psyche means soul or principle of life. It can also refer to mental or emotional processes. I like to think of it as "balm for the soul". There are many kinds of psychotherapists with differing credentials and methods of therapy. There are psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers, counseling psychologists, educational psychologists, consulting psychologists, and nurse psychotherapists like me. There are, of course, many different types of psychotherapy. There is what is referred to as "brief therapy" or what I sometimes refer to as bandaid therapy. In this type you are seen for a limited number of times, usually 6-8 and the focus is not really on therapy, so much as solving a problem, or dealing with a situation. In this kind of therapy you will have assignments, learn some new skills, and be supported in dealing with the problem, situation, or issue and then you are done. As you can tell, brief therapy is pretty focused on thinking and doing.

Much psychotherapy is talk therapy and does not deal very much with feelings or healing the deepest wounds in people. For many that is a valid and appropriate choice and they gain much from their therapy. For others it is not enough and doesn't go deep enough.

The kind of therapy I do is long term therapy, that provides the deepest most permanent type of change, and has a more thorough focus on you. I believe people today are searching for who they really are. They need a process and experiences that support them going to the deepest most authentic levels of self/SELF. The self with lower case letters refers to your ego/personality self, while SELF refers to your larger, magnificent SELF that is who you really are, your soul. Many people are deeply wounded in their self/SELF and don't really even know that. What they know is the inner pain they feel in life, in relationships that are not working, and in their heart and soul. Many people have grown up in homes and families where they were not seen for who they are, were criticized, put down, beaten up verbally, mentally, emotionally, physically or sexually; some with a combination of those abuses. Many have been humiliated and shamed and have lived their life feeling worthless and "bad". Many people have grown up without nurturing, or feeling accepted like they belong and now in life they either don't get that, don't know what it is, or they try to get it in very unhealthy ways, or through sex and are dissatisfied or insatiable.

It is important that you trust the therapist you work with, and that you feel safe with them. I recommend that you spend some time with the person you think you want to work with, and see what it feels like with them. Are they accepting and gentle, do they seem to see and hear you? Do they show unconditional love? Do they seem clear, in their words and communication? Do they seem to have an open heart? How does your inner child respond to them? (All of you were children once, and that child part of you still lives within your psyche. You may or may not be in touch with that child, however, the child is there.) How do they do therapy and is it what you need? Can they challenge you, when you need that, in a way that maintains the unconditional love and trust that was there before the challenge?

I use unconditional love and acceptance, comfort and challenge, as the basis of the therapy that I do. I use a developmental focus, so that I have the complete picture of the experiences this person/soul has had, and the effects of those experiences on them. In the American culture, there has been a very detrimental focus on 'doing' and accomplishment, rather than on Being. The first six months of life the baby is developing trust in their parents/caregivers, as the basis for trust in relationships and in the world. It is during these first six months of life that their Being, must be honored, respected, and loved, and for them to be healthily dependent on those who are caring for them. When this did not take place, their very foundation is 'shaky' and it makes exploring, taking risks, using their own initiative and trusting their own knowing, very difficult in the next stage, from 6-18 months. There has been a very deep misunderstanding in our culture of healthy dependence. That has led to an ongoing conflict between dependence and independence. Basically, we need to have the experience of being dependent in a healthy way, so that we can later become independent in a healthy, rather than maladaptive way. There are many people with deep unfulfilled needs to 'be taken care of', to be nurtured appropriately, and be accepted and loved unconditionally. These needs are not being met in people's adult lives except through some healthy, safe, ethical, therapeutic process. You can see why 'talk therapy' and cognitive therapy alone will not address these unmet needs.

For therapy to truly address these needs, it must support the kind of emotional and physical safety that allows someone to regress back to when they were a baby and have those needs met in a healthy way. For this to occur the therapist needs to have done their own inner work, be grounded and clear in who they are, and have clear boundaries with high ethical standards. It is also important to have a safe 'container' for this therapy. That means having a safe environment that supports that kind of healing. My therapy begins on an individual, 1:1 basis, with a complete developmental history, and hearing their life story, while supporting the development of trust. Then when the person is ready, they transition into a group. This is not a traditional group therapy. This is a 1:1 therapy in a group setting with the group becoming a healthy family. In the group I have a male co-therapist and up to 8 other clients. The group then serves as the family in which all the patterns and myriad interactions and responses can occur. Whatever issues, feelings, needs, concerns, or conflicts, behavior patterns are present in a client and will likely emerge in the group and then we can deal with it. The group provides continuing contact and support between group sessions and members support one another and share wisdom and often nurture. Whatever traumas a client has had, those traumas will usually surface during the course of group and that allows us to learn about it and do what is needed to help them heal from it. I have seen people heal from infant trauma all the way up to adult trauma. My co-therapist John Skandalis' website is http://www.johnskandalis.com

I have seen and believe that the source of much depression in people are these unmet needs from the first six months of life, and in some cases even prenatal. Many babies were traumatized before, during, and after birth and those traumas remained unhealed and unresolved, generating pain and creating havoc in someone's life. Most people are totally unconscious of the source of the problems and doctors and practitioners often try to medicate it away and it simply does not work. Medicating the pain, whether through prescriptions or drug and alcohol misuse, doesn't cure the source of the pain. That is not to say that some prescription medication may not be indicated and helpful to some clients in their therapy. Appropriate medication can reduce symptoms so that someone may function better while doing their healing work.

In my groups we use psychodrama, gestalt, bioenergetics, regressive work, trauma resolution techniques, and much more. People change at very deep levels and all the self defeating patterns gradually drop away and are replaced with healthy patterns that truly serve people in their lives and on their spiritual path.

Today, more than ever it is important for all of us to heal. Today, more than ever we are at risk. I see more and more people, at various ages, and especially very young teenagers who are suicidal and believe their life has no purpose, meaning or value. We all experienced the tragedy of 9/11/01 and know that kind of negative energy, evil, intensity, and utter disregard for the value of life, is very present in our world. It is affecting many people on the planet today. Without a conscious understanding of this and knowledge of how to deal with it, people are more and more at risk to hurt themselves, others, or be very sick and ineffective in life.

If you want to learn more about this, and how to support your soul's growth, continue reading in Soul's Journey.

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