I combine several theoretical orientations in my practice, with the primary ones being client directed outcome informed (CDOI), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness, positive psychology, choice theory/reality therapy, and life coaching. In accordance with the CDOI philosophy, I try to tailor my approach to best suite your needs. Thus, I use your input and feedback to help guide the direction of therapy. Ultimately, my goal as a psychologist is to help you learn strategies to manage your challenges and achieve your goals independent of me. Like you, I am always learning and growing. Thus, my treatment philosophy and therapeutic approach evolve over time as new research findings become available, and as I learn from my experiences with my clients.
Client Directed Outcome Informed (CDOI)
Psychologists who practice CDOI therapy do not use a specific technique or method when working with clients. Instead, those who use CDOI therapy embrace the idea that the clients are the best judges of whether the therapy they receive is effective. CDOI therapy emphasizes the importance of a strong, trusting relationship between the psychologist and the client, and psychologists who use CDOI therapy view the thoughts and feedback of the clients as sources of wisdom. The clients’ ideas and preferences (theory of change) are used to modify and enhance the techniques of the psychologist, which allow the clients to have a more active role in therapy. By using CDOI therapy, psychologists use practice-based evidence (i.e., is the treatment being delivered working?) to sculpt their techniques, providing them with a chance to learn about the effectiveness of their work from those who experience it first-hand: the clients.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a form of therapy that has gained a great deal of attention within the last few decades. In brief, in cognitive behavioral therapy (sometimes called cognitive therapy or cognitive behavior therapy), clients are taught that thoughts, emotions, and behavior are inextricably linked. The way we perceive things influences our physiological, emotional, and behavioral responses. According to the cognitive model, dysfunctional or inaccurate thoughts often underlie chronic/severe emotional and behavioral problems. Through various techniques, thoughts and behaviors are examined and modified. With practice, clients learn these techniques so that they can effectively deal with their challenges on their own. In contrast to other forms of psychotherapy, CBT tends to be more problem-solving oriented, time limited, and focused on the present.
Mindfulness is the idea that we are not our thoughts. When we are mindful, we are tuning in to the present moment. Regrets about the past cause us to feel down, and glorifying the past diminishes the power of the present. Likewise, focusing too much on great things that might happen in the future pulls us away from what is happening now, and worrying about what might happen in the future causes us distress in the present. Also, by learning to become more mindful, we are not judging situations as bad or good; we are accepting them as they are.
Mindfulness has the power to liberate us, to unshackle us, from dwelling on the past or future. This does not mean that we should not reflect on the past or plan for the future, but there are times to do that, and there are times when we should be fully present and soak up the experiences of the moment. Much of our anxiety and depressive feelings stem from dwelling on the negatives of our past or worrying about possible negative outcomes in the future. Becoming more mindful has the power to improve our mood and decrease psychological distress.
Until about the past decade, psychology and psychiatry have tended to focus on pathology – what is going wrong with people and why. Recently, however, there has been a new movement in the field spearheaded by psychologists such as Dr. Martin Seligman and Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, that focuses on what makes people happy and why. The research within the field of positive psychology provides a wealth of data on strategies and behaviors (e.g., exercise, charitable deeds, learning to forgive) that tend to elicit a sense of fulfillment and positive emotional states. In therapy, clients learn how to choose behaviors that tend to engender happiness. Oftentimes, these are activities that clients do occasionally in the present or once did in the past but are not aware of how beneficial these behaviors are. By learning to incorporate more positive behaviors in their lifestyle, clients can directly combat negative moods such as depression and anxiety.
Choice Theory/Reality Therapy
Choice Theory, which was formulated by psychiatrist Dr. William Glasser, posits that all humans have 5 basic needs (survival, freedom, fun, power, and love/belonging) that we attempt to satisfy through our behavioral choices. According to choice theory, almost all behavior is chosen, and we can only control our own behavior. Although everyone has all 5 of these needs, the drive for love and belongingness tends to be the most important. According to choice theory, it is through the development of close, caring relationships that we can most effectively fulfill our other needs and achieve happiness. Unfortunately, people frequently use external control (i.e., various types of coercive force such as criticizing, threatening, and nagging) to attempt to get others to do what they would like them to do with the misguided belief that this will help others to best satisfy their needs. However, using external control on others tends to result in conflict, frustration, and disconnected relationships. In turn, disconnected relationships ultimately produce unhappy people that may manifest mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Reality therapy is Dr. Glasser’s counseling approach using choice theory. Within reality therapy, there is much emphasis on a person learning to develop a strong internal locus of control (i.e., belief that one can attain desired results through one’s choices) and a strong sense of responsibility for one’s behavior. Like CBT, reality therapy tends to be focused on the present, problem and solution oriented, and time limited. Importantly, like CBT, a main goal in reality therapy is to aid clients in gaining new perspectives and techniques that will help them to manage challenges on their own.
Life coaching is different from other kinds of therapy because most clients who have a life coach are not suffering from severe psychological or emotional distress, and a life coach does not have to be a Licensed Psychologist. Many coaching schools and training programs are available, and any service provider can use the term “coach.” Clients who seek life coaches are generally high functioning and happy with their lives but may have specific goals that they have been unable to reach or certain questions about their lives that they need help exploring effectively. Life coaches believe that their clients know the answers to their own questions, but that they need help using their inner resources to find the answers. Many clients find that life coaches have the skill to know the right questions to ask their clients, enabling them to answer their own questions and find greater fulfillment. Life coaches seek to serve as a sounding board or motivator for their clients, and they most commonly address issues that clients are having in their personal lives, relationships, or professional lives.