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I Do What I Say, And I Say What I Mean…As Much As Possible

In a memorable moment in graduate school, my professor said, “A good social worker needs to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.” I knew instantly that it was true. It is helpful and necessary in my job to say things, make suggestions, offer observations, provide encouragement, and form recommendations. However, it’s not enough. I believe that a really great therapist needs to be willing to do the very things he or she endorses. It’s a worthwhile endeavor that I’m trying for, and maybe sometimes achieving. While I certainly do not want to dominate therapy with talking about myself, I do want to at least acknowledge that I’m a human too. I have things I work on in life. I’m a fellow traveler in this journey through a complicated human existence. As much as possible, I’m trying to do     . . . 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!  

Easing Common Fears About Going to Therapy

It’s really cool when my clients help others better understand how and why therapy is helpful. I’m especially impressed with my teen clients. They are really great about sharing the news that therapy can be effective and you don’t have to be “crazy” to go. People of all ages are mostly suspicious of therapy. They fear that it will be an unhelpful waste of time and money and/or potentially make things worse. Yikes! That’s a reputation I think therapists need to work harder to change. I can only speak to the way I do things, but here are my clarifications on common fears people have about therapy: The therapist will tell me to do things I don’t want to do. I’m certainly not going to tell you what to do. My job is to help you identify more clearly what     . . . read more