1) Mental health is just like physical health in that problems and illnesses in both are on a continuum of intensity. Just like with your physical health, there are the equivalents of mental health colds, flu, pneumonia, and cancers. There are also minor and major injuries, and some toxic exposures. Thus most mental health issues don't involve some all-encompasing life-long illness, or indicate some inexplicable system break-down. In fact, most mental illnesses and injuries are relatively easy and direct to treat.
2) Most mental health issues have very reasonable reasons for having developed, and are signs of healthy efforts by our brains to cope with or understand things that we have experienced. I have rarely found that mental health problems are due to something that has broken -- almost always they are the result of something being misused, or something you never had the opportunity to develop skill doing. Sometimes those situations do lead over time to physiological brain changes which need to be addressed to stabilize things, but often this can be resolved relatively quickly.
3) Although there are common themes in many disorders, all of us also are individuals. Aspirin is often helpful for someone with a headache - but aspirin doesn't work for everyone, or not at the same dosages, or not taken in the same way. Likewise your therapy needs to be individualized to fit and work for you. It is always my goal to listen closely to your experiences and thoughts to find what works best for you, and to make sure to hear from you what's helpful and what's not. My style is not to be that expert who insists you do something that SHOULD make things work (and often then makes you feel somehow to blame if it doesn't work), but instead to be an experienced helper who works with you to help you find out what DOES work, for you.
4) While it's crucial to figure things out rationally, most of our actions are carried out by the non-rational part of our brain (where we store learning). So therapy needs to work in this arena as well. Our non-rational thinking is essential and every bit as helpful as our rational thinking, but it plays by different rules. This is why although we consciously and rationally can decide to do things differently, two minutes later we can go out and do something the same old way as before. To create sustainable changes we need to learn how to change the non-rational (behavioral) thinking, too. That's why I believe in and use a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy with Jungian work and Art/Creative therapy. It works better than any one of those alone.
Learning how to use your non-rational thinking is the work that makes you able not just to know what you should do (rational, conscious thinking) but then to actually DO that (nonrational, unconscious thinking).
5) I also believe strongly that we operate as human beings with an acute sense of how things balance. This is a key to our decisions on what seems fair, on what we should expect to get or give, and on what it takes to feel we really own our choices. It also is a primary cause of problems that most therapy approaches don't explain well.
I've developed a model I use that my clients have found very helpful in explaining clearly things that most therapies ignore or are simply puzzled by, such as understanding how your partner and you both claim to be acting fairly but see each other's actions as unfair, why people have huge arguments over "little things", what creates the feeling of "not good enough", why it's often so hard to take the little steps you know would make things better, and a host of other common issues. (In preparation for writing the model up as a book I'm going to start posting my writing about the model on the site soon, but for now I explain it to clients in their sessions.)
6) Research shows that the relationship between client and therapist has a major impact on the effectiveness of ANY form of therapy. Please take advantage of my offer of a free initial meeting to see if working with me "feels right" to you.
Individuals join me for one-on-one consultations in a safe and open setting. Individual therapy sessions generally last 60 minutes. Typically clients meet with me weekly, but treatment is scheduled to meet your individual situation and needs.
For couples who have run into emotional trouble or just want to make sure their relationship gets off to a healthy start, relationship counseling is highly valuable. I have seen significant success helping couples understand and work on their issues. I strongly suggest addressing issues as soon as you become aware of them, as that makes treatment much easier for you -- just as early diagnosis does for physical health problems.
565 University Avenue
Fairbanks, AK 99701
Office: (907) 374-8777
Text: (907) 388-8963
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Monday - Friday 9 AM - 6 PM
Saturday and other hours by arrangement
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