I work with my clients to solve their individual, relational and family issues. Through counsel with each individual, couple, and family, and by adhering to various therapeutic models and principles, I work with my clients to help them determine their goals in therapy.
Building a comfortable relationship is the key to effective treatment. Each person has different needs and comes to treatment with issues that are unique to them. I use a variety of therapeutic models and a warm, yet appropriately confrontational style to help my clients reach their goals.
During the initial interview, I assist you in understanding and learning as much as you can about your depression – if there is an underlying medical reason for it, the severity, and how long symptoms have existed. We then make the decision about referral for medication or not. Although the treatment of choice for many types of depression involves cognitive-behavioral therapy, or identifying the negative or distorted thought patterns that contribute to a depressed state, your relationship with the therapist is primary. Throughout our time together, I will also assist you in making lifestyle changes that are a necessary part of depression treatment, such as exercise, nutrition, sleep, social support, and stress reduction.
Although anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences at times, if you are faced with a problem or with making a decision, and anxiety causes such distress that it interferes with your ability to lead a normal, satisfying life, the focus of treatment will be on changing the thought patterns that contribute to your symptoms. We will explore the type of anxiety disorder that you report, whether it is panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder, and establish a treatment plan accordingly. If left untreated, anxiety disorders can have severe consequences such as avoidance behaviors that conflict with job requirements, family obligations or other basic activities of daily living.
Everyone experiences stress in his/her life, but when the reaction to stress goes beyond one’s methods of coping, symptoms occur. These symptoms may include increased heart rate or blood pressure, problems sleeping, shortness of breath, an inability to be still and calm, muscle tension, and dizziness. Work burnout is another commonly reported issue. I will help you examine the perceived stresses and help you draw boundaries that will re-define you in relation to the separate areas of your life.
Adjustment Disorders are the development of clinically significant emotional or behavioral symptoms as a result of something that has occurred in one’s life. The severity of the disorder has to do with the meaning that one gives the perception of the event. In other words, the impact is related to the importance given to the loss or occurrence in your life. Common onset stressors are: New marriage, divorce/separation, parental separation, relationship issues, illness, financial problems, job change or loss, and any family crisis. In therapy, I will help you determine if the distress is in excess of what would typically be expected from exposure to the stressor. We can then work together to change the thoughts and feelings surrounding the event.
Life Transitions and Phase of Life Difficulties
All life transitions tend to cause stress even if they are positive.
All change involves loss and a person’s response to this is highly variable. Even elective changes such as marriage, birth, new jobs, and moving require a large amount of adjustment. Other major life transitions such as retirement, entering the “empty nest” phase of life, divorce, and dealing with loss related to aging require a different sort of adjustment. Those who find themselves experiencing difficulty coping with life transitions often find it helpful to talk to a therapist. I help people adjust to these changing circumstances by re-framing the “change” as opportunity, and the “loss” as necessary.
The experience of loss and grief, both death-related and non-death-related, are very individual and personal; thus, each person and/or family requires an individualized approach to facilitate healing. This involves taking into account the unique interaction of the person, the loss event, and the circumstance in which the event occurred. I help clients navigate their particular grieving journey in a way that helps them express their experience and minimize the intense pain associated with it.
GOTTMAN EMPIRICALLY DERIVED RELATIONSHIP THERAPY
Based on the findings of John Gottman, Ph.D., in his thirty years of research studying thousands of couples, this model has provided a comfortable and successful fit for me. The first 20 years I was in practice, Marriage and Family Therapy was my least effective intervention and outcome studies supported my concerns about the most commonly used methods. Thus, I explored multiple models and found this one from Gottman to be my treatment of choice in helping couples strengthen their bonds and learn the tools for managing conflict. This has made a highly positive impact on the effectiveness of the outcomes.
Certified Gottman Therapist:
A therapist who completes the requirements of admittance to the certification program and is licensed to practice as a therapist.
This program includes completion of three levels of training:
- A two-day professional workshop by John Gottman
- A five-day training led by Drs. John and Julie Gottman that introduces the assessment and intervention
- The Certification Program:
- Workshop Practicum: A four-day workshop led by Julie Gottman
- Clinical Consultation: At least eight individual sessions or twelve group sessions of consultation with a Gottman Relationship Clinic Senior Therapist/Consultant
- Tape Review: submission of DVD/video tapes for review by a Senior Gottman therapist
Based on this review the qualification for Certified Gottman Therapist is given or denied. Only therapists who have completed all of the above requirements may call him or herself a Certified Gottman Therapist. I am honored to have met the requirements, and I was the first therapist to bring the Gottman Method to Texas.
I treat couples and families with the same supportive style as individual clients. Beginning with a mutual understanding of problem areas, I guide couples through treatment using models of healthy relationships and therapy methods to promote healing and trust.
I am a Gottman-Certified Marital Therapist and Workshop Leader. Utilizing training and therapy models developed by marital experts Drs. John and Julie Gottman, therapy focuses on rebuilding the marital friendship and learning how to manage conflict in a more constructive way.
According to a survey published in the Journal of Family Psychology, couples with premarital education reported higher levels of marital satisfaction and experienced a 30-percent decline in divorce over five years. Indeed, many states currently require couples to complete premarital counseling before they’re legally allowed to wed.
I help couples assess potential issues that might corrode their marital friendship, and help them acquire tools to manage the issues in a constructive way. I also reassure couples that premarital examination does not have to be a threatening experience and that it can certainly be more helpful in the long run.
Decisions to divorce are not easy and often accompanied by remorse, indecisiveness and fear. When couples are unequivocal about where they are in the process, they can still be pained and regretful. After much experience helping individuals along the continuum of disentangling from a marriage, I am familiar with the internal workings of divorcing couples and the impact on families, individuals, and children. I work with couples to help minimize pain by showing them new ways to communicate and negotiate – different from what they were most likely using in their marriage. In this way, property settlement, custody issues, and civility can be more easily promoted.
The prevalence of affairs is a well-documented issue in our culture and are initiated by men as well as women. Many myths surround the cause and outcomes of infidelity – and today those myths are being examined and some have been negated.
One myth is that an affair suggests the end of a marriage. Indeed, I have helped many couples go beyond where they would be – even if the insult had not occurred. Treatment involves helping the couple understand how they arrived at the point of infidelity and what is required to heal afterwards. Often, we focus on communication and rebuilding trust, and this is done by accountability and understanding.
I suggest family therapy as treatment of choice when the identified patient is a child or adolescent and the dynamic in the family exacerbates and maintains the symptoms. Often this involves parenting style, boundaries, and organization. In this setting, I am able to observe what goes on at home and help each person understand his/her contribution and make relevant corrections. Referrals are often made from other professionals such as child psychiatrists, pediatricians, and therapists working with the adolescent.
Gottman Marathon Couples Therapy is often recommended for couples who have not had success in managing specific gridlock issues. The issues have become so intense that it is often threatening the marital friendship. The therapy is designed to help couples navigate better communication and compromise in a facilitative manner. Typically, the therapy involves five-hour sessions on two consecutive days.
Extended Sessions Therapy
Extended sessions are sessions booked for two or more hours on a single day, either on weekdays or weekends. These sessions are useful for couples in crisis, those traveling from out of town, couples wanting to jump-start their changes on a new trajectory, and couples who just work better in a compressed period of time. Many couples work better in a format that meets less often for longer periods of time.
Psychological variables are commonly accepted as one of the many factors in disease and its treatment. I work with physicians to assist with treatment compliance and to lessen the impact of stress and unhealthful living on the patient’s physical condition. Additionally, a psychological diagnosis often helps physicians better treat particular disorders. Conversely, a physical diagnosis often helps psychologists understand the interplay between the physical and emotional states in the mind/body connection.
Often, people seek the help of attorneys in planning a divorce process, yet these couples are at an impasse in their readiness to proceed. I see these difficult situations as opportunities to help individuals evaluate their options and potentials for success, either as a couple or apart. This often involves four sessions to accomplish a complete assessment.