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Feelings About Feelings

As a therapist, I find that the cause of many mental health issues is not the emotion one naturally feels about an event or situation, it is the reaction to this initial or primary emotion. Often for people experiencing panic, it is the fear or embarrassment of having the panic symptoms that becomes problematic. For depression, it may be the shame of feeling sad, which prompts even worse sadness and lowers self-esteem. The first step in therapy is most frequently addressing the reaction to our own natural, understandable feelings. In short, ineffective internal responses to feelings we have are the underlying issue in many mental health diagnoses. As a result, I think a lot about why we are so ineffective at accepting, managing, or feeling our emotions. Why do we feel shame, anger, fear, or guilt about having feelings? For     . . . read more

Mistakes and How We Respond to Them

In elementary school, our art teacher would coax us into making some unintended dribble or scribble into a “happy mistake.” I was not receptive. I would rather have started over so that I might have some pristine piece of art when I was done. A quarter of a century later, I think I’m finally catching on. There is beauty in the mistake…as unappealing and potentially cliche as that sounds. Learning or growing often comes from mistakes, in art class or in life. I’d like to say that I make a fair amount of mistakes. I often think that I’d like to take them back. There are things I wish I said differently and some situation I could have handled with more skill and grace. But that’s not how it works. “To err is human” said Alexander Pope. He was right.     . . . read more

Taking the Fear Out of Change

Some of you might know that I’m really into helping my clients make changes. But I am also very aware that change can feel scary and overwhelming. If you are torn between wanting to make changes, but feeling like it’s just too big of a job, you are not alone. I often see people who are in the stage of wanting change but not sure if they can handle it. This is a perfectly fine place to be. I like seeing clients who want to explore what change might be like even if they are not convinced to make the change. Change is a process. Part of the process is thinking about and talking about making a change. We called this the contemplation stage. Having a therapist at this stage in the process can be very helpful. You can identify     . . . read more

New Home for New Approaches

Big news: the move is complete and today was the first day operating out of the new office at 203 Anderson Street! The new space features more space, more light and views of the Back Cove in Portland. I’m loving the East Bayside location, just off of Marginal Way and 295. I’m neighbors with cool local businesses like Urban Farm Fermentory (your source for quality fermented foods), Zero Station (digital printing and framing), and Portland Power Yoga. Who wouldn’t love being around artists, culinary geniuses, and yogis? I’m also conveniently located off of Bayside Trail, the Back Bay Trail, and the Eastern Prom Trail. I hope you will consider New Approaches for individual and family therapy and maybe have a walk and support some local Portland businesses while in my new neighborhood!  

Making Breakthroughs in Therapy

I get excited when clients make breakthroughs. They are also really excited, and so we both feel terrific. This week, a client pointed out that not every session contains a breakthrough. “That’s true,” I admitted. It got me thinking about the importance of having a breakthrough- a sudden “click” or an “ah-ha” moment. Should I be trying to get people to have one at every session? As motivating and energizing as a sudden advancement in knowledge or awareness can be, a breakthrough is just one aspect of therapy. That is the answer that came to me in the place where I have most of my breakthroughs: the gym. Having come off yet another small winter illness, it felt like a feat just to show up. That was my breakthrough. Just showing up is the real work of any long-term commitment     . . . read more

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