'I think I have anxiety'
The definition of anxiety is an excessive uneasiness or stress reaction that can be characterized by nervousness, apprehension, panic attacks, or other indicators that make us feel like impending doom is coming. These reactions are appropriate - and helpful - if the things we are anxious about are actual threats. For instance, elevated heart rate and fast breathing would be helpful if you were trying to evade someone that is chasing you. However, anxiety is defined by the fact that these symptoms appear in inappropriate times based on the perceived threats in front of us.
"The initial goal of our treatment together will be to understand what triggers your anxiety, what existing coping skills you have used (in the past), and identify if and how these coping skills may not be best serving your needs."
This stress can become apparent in the form of racing thoughts, fast heart rate, difficulty breathing, poor sleep, panic attacks, etc. This can cause all kinds of problems both internally in our bodies and externally in our behavior. I have worked with many people that struggle with various forms of anxiety. The initial goal of mental health counseling (and our treatment together) will be to understand what triggers your anxiety, what existing coping skills you have used to manage the symptoms you're experiencing, identify if and how these coping skills may not be best serving your needs (e.g. substance abuse, over-obsession with work, or avoidance in general), and together we will construct a plan to create new coping skills that both reduce your anxiety and place your energy in activities that make you happy.
'I think I'm depressed'
Sadness is something that we all feel in our lives at some point in time. Feeling down, sad, unhappy, having the 'blues' - these all can be used interchangeably to describe how we feel when we're not as happy as we're used to being. There is an important distinction here that I cannot emphasize enough. Being sad is not necessarily a bad thing sometimes. In fact, it's good to embrace all of your emotions when they occur. We feel sad after grieving a loved one, losing something important to us like a partner or a job, and many other reasons. Embracing the spectrum of feelings that precede a life event like this is a healthy way to cope. Problems, however, arise when sadness becomes overwhelming and it interferes with your life.
"As we begin to separate the positive coping skills from the negative, we will also examine your thought processes to understand whether the way you think and speak to yourself is supporting your happiness, or reinforcing the depression."
This is where substance abuse, weight gain, oversleeping, loss of interest in fun activities, isolating, among other things begin to undermine your ability to get better. This is the point when sadness becomes depression. With therapy, we will look at the ways you may be coping with depression now and weigh whether they are helping or hurting your ability to get back to your old self. As we begin to separate the positive coping skills from the negative, we will also examine your thought processes to understand whether the way you think and speak to yourself is supporting your happiness, or reinforcing the depression.
'PTSD... That's just for soldiers, right?'
No, it is not. Many people believe it is because the prevalence is, indeed, very high among people that have served in the military. However, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can happen to anyone. PTSD proceeds anything traumatic from sexual abuse or witnessing domestic violence, to being bullied in school, or to being in a car accident. Any one in any of these situations can experience the symptoms of PTSD that include but are not limited to flashbacks, sights/sounds/sensations that cause 'fight or flight' responses, and avoidance of those triggering places or things. The worst part is that some people may be experiencing these things and they don't know that they can seek mental health counseling to get better. Most of us in one way or another have experience something traumatic, and we were either too young or too overwhelmed to use healthy coping skills to cope with it. Instead, we might 'bottle up' our emotions or distance ourselves from them.
"We [begin the process of reducing symptoms of PTSD] by first improving your belief in yourself. No progress can be made if you ultimately don't believe that you can make significant change."
That may work for a while, but eventually the bottle fills up and overflows. On your own, you may think that accessing those emotions in that bottle is even too overwhelming to consider. In therapy, we work on bringing down the walls between your self, and your emotions. We do this by first improving your belief in yourself. No progress can be made if you ultimately don't believe that you can make significant change. We then improve your thinking so you can upend any negative thoughts that are acting against you. Once you gain those skills, we gradually reduce the power of those anxiety-provoking triggers so you have a new opportunity to once again enjoy the world around you.
'I don't have anxiety, depression, or PTSD - Can therapy help me?'
If you are struggling with something not in some way mentioned above, please contact me for a free consultation. I'm more than happy to speak in depth about what's going on for you right now, how you decided to seek therapy, and whether I believe I can help. Though the above mentioned are the most common, I have worked with folks from many different backgrounds that have struggled with a variety of different mental health or behavioral issues. If I don't fully believe I can help you overcome what's troubling you, I'm more than happy to use my knowledge and resources to find the best place where you can get the right help.
I welcome clients struggling with:
- Academic Underachievement
- Anger Management
- Bipolar Disorder
- Borderline Personality
- Chronic Pain
- Dissociative Disorders
- Domestic Abuse
- Family Conflict
- Impulse Control Disorders
- Mood Disorders
- Obsessive-Compulsive (OCD)
- Personality Disorders
- Relationship Issues
- Self Esteem
- Sexual Abuse
- Suicidal Ideation
- Thinking Disorders
** I'm also a strong supporter and advocate for the LGBTQ community. Whether your identity impacts what brings you to therapy or not, all are welcome in my practice.**