At the outset, it is important for me to state that my approach
to psychotherapy is not "brief," nor is it established by today's
insurance companies. Most people know intuitively, I believe,
that human beings are complex, that changing one's life is
one of the most difficult challenges people face, and that
decades of living one way cannot be magically erased in just
a few sessions. Many of those I have treated first experienced
"brief therapy" which only treated the symptom and never
addressed the underlying cause(s). My goal is that
together we will discover and treat the source of the symptom(s)
you are facing.
Many find the process of therapy to be shrouded in mystery, with the trained professional deciphering hidden messages the patient may communicate along the way, ultimately handing to the patient the solutions and interpretations that will make life better. Others see it as an advice-giving process, not unlike visiting a physician: describe your complaints and receive the diagnosis and prescription.
I understand individual psychotherapy to be a collaborative process between someone wanting to find solutions to problems and someone dedicated to help in the search and discovery process. Since no two people are alike, no two courses of therapy will be alike. Each person has a unique set of concerns and a unique history. Having said that, depth-oriented therapy (or psychoanalytic psychotherapy) usually proceeds in a natural fashion:
Initial Diagnostic Period
This usually takes the initial two to four sessions in order to be able to understand the basics of someone's concerns.
Deepening the Understanding
The time period can vary widely from several months to several years. During this time, less conscious aspects related to one's concerns are noticed with curiosity; usually, many initial symptoms remit, making life somewhat more manageable, while deeper issues are addressed. Most find important surprises along the way that help them better understand themselves, especially noticing patterns of relating to others and patterns of protecting oneself.
Working It Through
An undetermined time period during which issues addressed are challenged and explored with new awareness, behavior, and understanding, leading toward a goal of increased freedom and authenticity for living.
This is one of the most important phases of therapy, this provides a healthy transition during which time the one seeking therapy is able to reflect upon the gains and changes, is able to say goodbye to the therapist and to the regular format of therapy. Most often, the door is left open for additional sessions as needed.