A lot of therapists believe that their particular theoretical orientation is the right one for helping people. I don't impose my theory or require that your problem fit my approach.
Instead I tailor my approach to fit you.
Here are examples of some of the major styles of counseling I use. They cover a wide variety of perspectives about people's problems, from the emotional to the intellectual, the individual to the interaction between people, from the action-oriented to the insight-oriented, from the unconscious mind to the conscious choice. Once again, it is a matter of giving us more options in solving your problems.
Client-centered Cognitive-Behavioral EMDR Emotionally-Focused Marriage Counseling Ericksonian hypnosis Family Systems Gestalt Psycho-educational Reality Therapy Redecision Strategic
I certainly can and do diagnose psychiatric disorders. Yet, too often, what is viewed as pathology is really a very difficult problem of living, for which there is no quick cure. Rather than me as the expert who cures you, possibly the most important thing for your success in therapy is that we can work as a team together.
I believe there are two kinds of people in the world - those who have problems - and those who do something about their problems! You show a lot of courage by going to therapy.
Some of the many problems I help with on a regular basis:
Relationship conflict Depression
Failing marriages Excessive Anxiety
Mid-life crises Panic attacks
Parent-Child conflict Obsessions and compulsions
Military stresses Trauma
Men's issues Blended family issues
Stress relief Relapse prevention (alcohol & drugs)
Adjustment problems in Children Co-dependency / ACA
Spouse abuse Anger control
Adults molested as children Coping with divorce
Be sure to tell me the best times to reach you.
Many therapists concentrate exclusively on working through feelings - the "touchy-feelie" approach. Don't they seem flaky?
Many other therapists are scientific in their approach to the point of making you feel like a bug under their microscope.
The best therapists can combine their intellect with their feelings to give you the most complete counseling experience. They creatively explore your problem with you, but also give you a sense of direction. They help you look at the larger picture, but also focus on concrete examples. They suggest specific techniques, yet also discuss the qualities of your relationship to others.
It's an important way people can change and be more effective in pursuing happiness. Of course there are other important ways such as religion or self-help groups. They compliment each other most of the time.
I subscribe to the theory that our past teaches us how to behave in everyday life automatically - without making true choices. That means we can change and learn to think, feel and act differently. The work starts with looking inward and learning about the way we behave and the effect on our spirit.
As well as looking at the problem inside you, because I am a family therapist, I also consider how the people in your family influence you, and can help you change. But this doesn't mean that you have to have a "family problem" to come to therapy. Nor does the whole family have to be present to solve the problem.
As a result of your work in therapy, you should have important issues to think about or write about in between sessions. You will often have specific homework exercises or experiments to do. This leads to new decisions, new attitudes, and more action.
At a later time in your therapy, you may find yourself having strong feelings toward the therapist, such as anger or fear. Talking this out together is a significant and healthy part of the therapy. IT IS IMPORTANT that you express your feelings rather than just drop out, because it is an opportunity to deal with unrecognized parts of the problem.
I was pursuing ways of making brief therapy work long before anyone had heard of managed care. I've struggled with this because I empathize with the suffering of my clients and want to help them find relief as quickly as we can. Sometimes brief methods work, but sometimes counseling reflects the long hard moral struggle that is life. No managed care reviewer can tell you how long your therapy should be. Here are some clinical guidelines:
It depends first of all on how much change you want to make. Some people have short-term goals, like their managed care insurance plan does, for some relief of immediate symptoms. This might take 6 to 8 sessions. Other people want to address how the current crisis fits into larger life problems and make broader changes. In general, the more quickly the problem developed, the more likely that short-term therapy will help reduce the severity of symptoms. See the November 1995 Consumer Reports review of therapy. They determined that the longer people stay in counseling, the more benefit they get. Those who benefitted most, stayed with their therapy for more than 6 months. How consistently can you face your fears and frustrations? Progress rarely occurs at a steady rate, which might make things appear hopeless. People find themselves coming up with all sorts of plausible excuses to drop out prematurely, without a word to the therapist. Finally, it is important how much effort you put in between sessions. Let your therapist know how you apply what you learn in counseling.
Last Updated Jan. 11, 2012 by David Hammer, MA, MFT