Initiating therapy can be a daunting and challenging process, and that begins with selecting a family therapist or marriage counselor around whom you will feel comfortable, safe, and respected. You've taken the first step by going online to find that therapist, but it can be a difficult exercise to pick who to call out of the many choices available to you.
Although it would be beneficial for you to personally interview prospective therapists, with today's busy work and personal schedules, it's not very practical to do so. The purpose of my web site is to provide some of the information you would obtain by speaking with me. It doesn't replace our initial appointment, but hopefully it gives you a better idea if I'm the right fit for your counseling needs.
I've tried to organize my site so the high level information is easy to scan in the top section, while including additional layers of detail in this lower section. In some instances, by moving your mouse over a phrase, or a photograph like the one above, a small window will appear with additional detail. In other cases, by clicking on a bar such as the "Psychotherapist versus Counselor" bar at the bottom of this page, an additional panel of information will appear. My site is intentionally a not-so-subtle metaphor for therapy — peeling the layers of the onion to gain more and more insight.
It comes as no surprise that those who find psychotherapy helpful say the most important part of therapy is their relationship with the therapist. I've tried to personalize content on this site and make it conversational wherever I can, to better enable you to discern whether there might be a connection — an important element of the client-therapist relationship. I'll start that by sharing about myself.
I became a therapist because I discovered that it was a large part of who I am. Even at an early age, I found that I was often the person others felt safe to let their guard down with — to share with me what was happening with them below the surface, and to seek out my guidance.
As I trusted others with my own struggles and pain, and experienced their compassion and insights, it helped me on my own life journey, and I desired to offer that same care to others. For me, being a therapist and marriage counselor is about loving to listen to others, to hear their story, to share their pain, to support them in altering their course or making changes in their life, marriage or relationships, and to be present with them during a small part of their life journey.
Psychotherapy versus Counseling — Psychotherapist versus Counselor
Some of you found this site searching for a therapist, while others might have been searching for a individual or marriage counselor.
In the process, you might have noticed that the terms "Therapist", "Psychotherapist", and "Counselor" seem to be used somewhat interchangeably. You might have wondered what the difference is, how I can refer to myself as all three, or how I differ from other "counselors".
By definition, a "counselor" is an "advisor" — they give advice. More specifically, it involves two people working together to solve a problem. While my role as a counselor is not to give you advice — you have many options for that such as family, friends and even the Internet — it is to work together with you to to solve problems you're having in your life or in your marriage. However, rather than handing out advice, my role as a counselor is to help you rediscover your own voice(s), and guide you in the directions you truly desire to go. Counseling generally denotes a relatively brief treatment that is focused most upon behavior, or in marriage counseling, communication. It often targets a particular symptom or problematic situation you're experiencing individually, or in your marriage or relationships with others.
Therapy is defined as "the act of caring for someone." "Psychotherapy" focuses on gaining deeper insight into chronic physical and/or emotional problems. A psychotherapist concentrates more on your thought processes and way of being in the world rather than specific problems. Psychotherapy is designed to encourage communication of conflicts and insight into problems, with the goal of bringing relief of symptoms, and changes in your behavior that will lead to improved functioning. Psychotherapy tends to be more longer term than counseling.
Psychotherapy requires more skill and training than simple counseling. Psychotherapists not only receive specific training, but are usually licensed — only after completing thousands of hours of supervised counseling and an extensive examination. Licensed Psychotherapists are overseen by state boards that make them accountable, and hold them to a higher standard. While a psychotherapist such as a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) is qualified to provide counseling, a counselor may or may not possess the necessary training and skills to provide psychotherapy and family therapy, and are usually not licensed.
In our sessions, there may be quite a bit of overlap between counseling and psychotherapy depending on your immediate (in the moment), short, and long term needs.
Click here for more information on my approach to therapy and the goals of therapy.