Individual therapy can be highly effective for youth and adults who are struggling to make healthy life choices and accept the consequences of these choices. This may include individuals struggling with addiction, anxiety, depression, and a wide range of psychological and behavioral issues.
Individual therapy is most beneficial for an individual who is willing to engage in honest self-evaluation.
Conditions Treated with Individual Existential Therapy
I prefer to utilize existential techniques to help people with a variety of mental health conditions. These include problems like depression, anxiety, addictions, and PTSD that arises from life-threatening experiences such as combat or other forms of violence. In addition, if you have fear, isolation, grief, or feel that your life has no meaning, existential therapy can help you. With this type of therapy, you can find a healthy way forward by learning from your past and present experiences and deciding from that information what you can choose next.
Existential therapy recognizes that life comes with certain mental health challenges that are givens for everyone alive. These challenges are simply a part of the human experience. We all must find a way to deal with the certainty of death and avoid isolation. If we accept freedom, we must also face the responsibility that goes along with it. Finally, we must find meaning in our lives to truly enjoy the time we’re alive and make the most of it.
Also, existential therapy begins from a particular perspective. It views everyone as being capable of self-awareness. Each of us is in some way unique, and it is through our relationships that we understand what that uniqueness is. Although we may find meaning at some point, the world continues to move forward. People change, and the meaning of their lives changes, too. Lastly, because we must find a balance between ignorance and despair, we all deal with some amount of anxiety.
Existential therapy is essentially a talk therapy, but the goal is to choose more positive ways to behave. I will in fact prompt you to follow insight with action. Through this values-based action, you can find the meaning you need to become outwardly the best possible version of yourself.
A vital form of therapy, marriage, or couples, counseling helps couples both identify and resolve conflicts and other issues that are contributing to problems in their relationship. Therapists teach the couples how to better communicate their feelings and work together to develop coping strategies. Marriage counseling often helps couples renew their initial commitment to each other and rebuild their relationship. However, counselors also can help couples define the reasons why they need to separate or even end the marriage.
The Gottman Method was developed by Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman in the 1980s. It is an evidence based form of couples therapy that strives to assist couples in achieving a deeper sense of understanding, awareness, empathy, and connectedness within their relationships that ultimately leads to heightened intimacy and interpersonal growth. By combining therapeutic interventions with couples exercises, this type of therapy helps couples identify and address the natural defenses that hinder effective communication and bonding.
Couples who enter into the Gottman Method Couples Therapy begin with an assessment process that then informs the therapeutic framework and intervention. An initial session might look like this:
- Assessment: A joint session is followed by individual interviews with each partner. Couples complete questionnaires and then receive feedback on their relationship.
- Therapeutic Framework: The couple and therapist decide on the frequency and duration of the sessions.
- Therapeutic Interventions: Interventions are designed to help couples strengthen their relationships in three primary areas: friendship, conflict management, and creation of shared meaning. Couples learn to replace negative conflict patterns with positive interactions and to repair past hurts. Interventions designed to increase closeness and intimacy are used to improve friendship, deepen emotional connection, and create changes which enhances the couples shared goals. Relapse prevention is also addressed.
Group therapy is a form psychotherapy that involves the therapist working with several people at the same time. Group therapy is sometimes used alone, but it is also commonly integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes individual therapy and medication.
Fundamentals of Group Therapy
- The instillation of hope: The group contains members at different stages of the treatment process. Seeing people who are coping or recovering gives hope to those at the beginning of the process.
- Universality: Being part of a group of people who have the same experiences helps people see that what they are going through is universal and that they are not alone.
- Imparting information: Group members can help each other by sharing information.Group members can share their strengths and help others in the group, which can boost self esteem and confidence.
- The corrective recapitulation of the primary family group: The therapy group is much like a family in some ways. Within the group, each member can explore how childhood experiences contributed to personality and behaviors. They can also learn to avoid behaviors that are destructive or unhelpful in real life.
- Development of socialization techniques: The group setting is a great place to practice new behaviors. The setting is safe and supportive, allowing group members to experiment without the fear of failure
- Imitative behavior: Individuals can model the behavior of other members of the group or observe and imitate the behavior of the therapist.
- Interpersonal learning: By interacting with other people and receiving feedback from the group and the therapist, members of the group can gain a greater understanding of themselves.
- Group cohesiveness: Because the group is united in a common goal, members gain a sense of belonging and acceptance.Sharing feelings and experiences with a group of people can help relieve pain, guilt, or stress.
- Existential factors: While working within a group offers support and guidance, group therapy helps member realize that they are responsible for their own lives, actions, and choices.
So what does a typical group therapy session look like? In many cases, the group will meet in a room where the chairs are arranged in a large circle so that each member can see every other person in the group. A session might begin with members of the group introducing themselves and sharing why they are in group therapy. Members might also share their experiences and progress since the last meeting.
Unexpected Mood Swings
Mood swings refer to rapid changes in mood. The term may refer to minor daily mood changes or to significant mood changes as seen with mood disorders such as major depressive disorder or bipolar depression. Mood swings can also occur in women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. The menopausal transition, specifically the time around approaching menopause or perimenopause, is associated with mood swings in some women. Mood swings can be seen with other conditions as well, including schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, hyperactive disorder, dementia, and thyroid conditions.
Stress & Anxiety
Stress- and anxiety-related disorders
Stress and anxiety that occur frequently or seem out of proportion to the stressor may be signs of an anxiety disorder. An estimated 40 million Americans live with some type of anxiety disorder.
People with these disorders may feel anxious and stressed on a daily basis and for prolonged periods of time. These disorders include the following:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable worrying. Sometimes people worry about bad things happening to them or their loved ones, and at other times they may not be able to identify any source of worry.
- Panic disorder is a condition that causes panic attacks, which are moments of extreme fear accompanied by a pounding heart, shortness of breath, and a fear of impending doom.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that causes flashbacks or anxiety as the result of a traumatic experience.
- Social phobia is a condition that causes intense feelings of anxiety in situations that involve interacting with others.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a condition that causes repetitive thoughts and the compulsion to complete certain ritual actions.
Sex therapy is a specialized type of psychotherapy — a general term for treating mental health problems by talking with a mental health professional, like myself. Through sex therapy, you can address concerns about sexual function, sexual feelings and intimacy, either in individual therapy or couples or family therapy. Sex therapy can be effective for individuals of any age, gender or sexual orientation.
Sex therapists do not have sexual contact with clients, in the office or anywhere else.
Sex therapy is typically short term in duration, with a limited number of sessions. However, treatment plans depend on the concerns and goals being addressed.
Sex therapy can help you resolve various sexual issues, from concerns about sexual functioning to difficulties in your sexual relationship. Through sex therapy, you may focus on issues such as:
- Concerns about sexual desire or arousal
- Concerns about sexual interests or sexual orientation
- Impulsive or compulsive sexual behavior
- Erectile functioning concerns
- Ejaculating early (premature ejaculation)
- Difficulty with sexual arousal
- Trouble reaching orgasm (anorgasmia)
- Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)
- Intimacy issues related to a disability or chronic condition
- Concerns regarding past unwanted sexual experiences
Family Member Conflict
Conflict can happen when family members have different views or beliefs that clash. Sometimes conflict can occur when people misunderstand each other and jump to the wrong conclusion. Issues of conflict that are not resolved peacefully can lead to arguments and resentment.
It is normal to disagree with each other from time to time. Occasional conflict is part of family life. However, ongoing conflict can be stressful and damaging to relationships. Some people find it difficult to manage their feelings and become intentionally hurtful, aggressive or even violent.
Communicating in a positive way can help reduce conflict so that family members can reach a peaceful resolution. This usually means that everyone agrees to a compromise or agrees to disagree.
Sometimes, strong emotions or the power imbalances that can be present in relationships are difficult to resolve and can only be addressed in a counselling situation.
Job Loss or Change
Grief is usually associated with the death of a loved one, but there are other areas of life in which loss results in grief that is just as real. One of these is being experienced more and more often due to the current trend of companies to “down-size.” The majority of today’s working population are likely to experience at least one job loss.
For many people today, there are two major phases of job loss. In past years, it was common for firings to be swift and merciless, but more and more companies are now providing a transition period. This is the period of time beginning with advance notification of job termination and ending with the actual job loss.
The “terminated” phase begins with the actual job loss, and unfortunately is still the only phase for many people. Even though the impact of actual unemployment can be lessened by a period of preparation, the grief process is still different for this phase. Many of the emotions do carry over, but the grief is more like that associated with the loss of a loved one. A way of life has ended, along with the security it provided.
Even when a person finds a replacement job before unemployment begins it doesn’t totally eliminate the next phase. A new job still means a new environment, new people, and possible relocation. This often involves a pay cut, reduced benefits, and starting over at the bottom of the seniority ladder.
Beyond the loss of income, losing a job also comes with other major losses, some of which may be even more difficult to face:
- Loss of your professional identity
- Loss of self-esteem and self-confidence
- Loss of your daily routine
- Loss of purposeful activity
- Loss of your work-based social network
- Loss of your sense of security
Fear, depression, and anxiety will make it harder to get back on the job market, so it’s important to actively deal with your feelings and find healthy ways to grieve. Acknowledging your feelings and challenging your negative thoughts will help you deal with the loss and move on.
A counselor can assist with job loss and helping you find the career move that is right for you.
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Symptoms must last at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression.
Also, medical conditions (e.g., thyroid problems, a brain tumor or vitamin deficiency) can mimic symptoms of depression so it is important to rule out general medical causes.
Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can strike at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.
Irregular Sleep Cycles
Symptoms of sleep disorders include being very sleepy during the daytime and having trouble falling asleep at night. Some people may fall asleep at inappropriate times, such as while driving. Other symptoms include breathing in an unusual pattern or feeling an uncomfortable urge to move while you are trying to fall asleep. Unusual or bothersome movements or experiences during sleep are also possible. Having an irregular sleep and wake cycle is another symptom of sleep disorders.
Is it possible to rebuild trust after your partner has been unfaithful? The loss of the relationship you envisioned can cause intense rage, jealousy, and sadness, and also raises many questions. Should you stay? Will things ever be the same? One thing is certain: learning to love again is a slow process.
Although regaining trust offers extreme challenges for both partners, there is reason to be hopeful.
Over time, the unfaithful partner must be willing to put the relationship first and demonstrate trustworthiness through their words and actions.
Recovering from an affair is complex and almost always requires an experienced therapist. Being able to express hurt feelings in a safe environment can facilitate healing. I employ the Gottman Method with couples and have found it very beneficial in helping couples find a path to reconciliation.
Sexual dysfunction refers to a problem occurring during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual or couple from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual activity. The sexual response cycle traditionally includes excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. Desire and arousal are both part of the excitement phase of the sexual response.
While research suggests that sexual dysfunction is common (43 percent of women and 31 percent of men report some degree of difficulty), it is a topic that many people are hesitant to discuss.
Who is affected by sexual dysfunction?
Sexual dysfunction can affect any age, although it is more common in those over 40 because it is often related to a decline in health associated with aging.
What are the symptoms of sexual dysfunction?
- Inability to achieve or maintain an erection suitable for intercourse
- Absent or delayed ejaculation despite adequate sexual stimulation (retarded ejaculation)
- Inability to control the timing of ejaculation (early or premature ejaculation)
- Inability to achieve orgasm
- Inadequate vaginal lubrication before and during intercourse
- Inability to relax the vaginal muscles enough to allow intercourse
In men and women:
- Lack of interest in or desire for sex
- Inability to become aroused
- Pain with intercourse
There are physical and mental factors here and as a counselor I will work with you on the mental factors in conjunction with your medical doctor to assist in creating a more positive outcome.
Isolation & Loneliness
Loneliness is a feeling of sadness or distress about being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world around you. It may be felt more over a long period of time. It is also possible to feel lonely, even when surrounded by people.
Isolation is being separated from other people and your environment. Sometimes this occurs through decisions we make ourselves, or because of circumstance e.g. doing a job that requires travel or relocation.
Nothing can destroy your career and personal life more than a strained relationship.
If you are experiencing a strain in your relationship, you must figure out why it’s being strained. Evaluating why a problem has appeared is always the first step to solving any problem. Evaluation is like being in a helicopter, rising above the problem, and viewing it from a higher perspective. This helps you get out of your emotions and into your higher reasoning capacities.
STRAINED RELATIONSHIP: WHAT’S THE CAUSE?
There are four common reasons contribute to strained relationships among people, no matter the context:
Money is the #1 source of relational conflict. You can easily see this in marriage, business, and between countries.
People need to feel appreciated. We all want to know that we are #1 in someone’s book. Are you making your relationships a priority? Asking that question is a must. If relationships are feeling strained, chances are, they’ve been neglected.
Your attitude in a relationship is paramount to its success or failure.
Lastly, the loss of trust is often the most damaging blow to any relationship. Mutual trust is the key to building and maintaining a relationship. It takes a long time to establish and just a moment to lose. If you have lost confidence in a relationship, it will be a significant challenge to repair the relationship.
Marriage problems, friendship drama, or even international tensions between countries are all conflicts with one thing in common: humans are hurting.
Working with a counselor can help!
Addiction is a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm.
The term addiction does not only refer to dependence on substances such as heroin or cocaine. A person who cannot stop taking a particular drug or chemical has a substance dependence.
Some addictions also involve an inability to stop partaking in activities, such as gambling, eating, or working. In these circumstances, a person has a behavioral addiction.
Addiction is a chronic disease that can also result from taking medications. The overuse of prescribed opioid painkillers, for example, causes 115 every day in the United States.
When a person experiences addiction, they cannot control how they use a substance or partake in an activity, and they become dependent on it to cope with daily life.
Every year, addiction to alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription opioids costs the U.S. economy upward of $740 Billion in treatment costs, lost work, and the effects of crime.
Most people start using a drug or first engage in an activity voluntarily. However, addiction can take over and reduce self-control.
Drug addiction and drug misuse are different.
Misuse refers to the incorrect, excessive, or non-therapeutic use of body- and mind-altering substances.
However, not everybody that misuses a substance has an addiction. Addiction is the long-term inability to moderate or cease intake.
For example, a person who drinks alcohol heavily on a night out may experience both the euphoric and harmful effects of the substance.
However, this does not qualify as an addiction until the person feels the need to consume this amount of alcohol regularly, alone, or at times of day when the alcohol will likely impair regular activities, such as in the morning.
A person who has not yet developed an addiction may be put off further use by the harmful side effects of substance abuse. For example, vomiting or waking up with a hangover after drinking too much alcohol may deter some people from drinking that amount anytime soon.
Someone with an addiction will continue to misuse the substance in spite of the harmful effects.
The primary indications of addiction are:
- uncontrollably seeking drugs
- uncontrollably engaging in harmful levels of habit-forming behavior
- neglecting or losing interest in activities that do not involve the harmful substance or behavior
- relationship difficulties, which often involve lashing out at people who identify the dependency
- an inability to stop using a drug, though it may be causing health problems or personal problems, such as issues with employment or relationships
- hiding substances or behaviors and otherwise exercising secrecy, for example, by refusing to explain injuries that occurred while under the influence
- profound changes in appearance, including a noticeable abandonment of hygiene
- increased risk-taking, both to access the substance or activity and while using it or engaging in it
If you or someone you know is dealing with addiction or misuse of substances a Licensed Professional Counselor can help.