In terms of my approach, I see mental health as inherently linked to our experience with relationships—as part of a complex matrix composed of self-concept, attachments to others, and interpersonal interactions, all shaped by our earliest experiences with care giving. From my perspective, patterns developed within these relationships are adaptations to one’s original environment, but may become problematic later in life if inflexible. In my experience this inflexibility is typically what leads to psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, etc. Therefore, I believe that change occurs through the exploration of past conflictual relationships within the context of a uniquely supportive relationship that can serve as a new model for relating to self and others, and a new way of understanding your symptoms.
As a result of this view, I focus on addressing the inherent urge humans have to construct a meaningful personal narrative from their experiences. Because we become who we are through relationships, discussing interactions and the meaning other’s perceptions have for us is an important focus of therapy. Therapy involves reconstructing personal experience in a way that helps individuals move towards accepting all parts of themselves, both “good” and “bad.”
Although thoughtful exploration of past experiences can be an important and powerful aspect of therapy, I also encourage my clients to consider ways in which they would like to develop in the future, including but not limited to, feeling more able to handle life’s challenges. In particular, the knowledge and skills I have learned from the DBT approach are aimed at strengthening an internal foundation from which to help this part of you evolve. Ideally, this combination of future and past focus helps pave the way for a more authentic version of your self to emerge.