It takes courage to share one’s private life, deepest sadness, unmet dreams and wishes, scariest thoughts, anger and aggressions, shame, guilt, and suffering. My first step toward helping those who come to me for help is to get to know them and the problems they are facing within a completely non-judgmental, caring, and confidential environment.
I carry out a comprehensive assessement over the first 2-3 sessions to find out as much as I can about the problem and how it developed. By comprehensive, I mean that I look at all the factors that may be contributing to the problem. I especially try to look for a person’s (or couple’s or family’s) strengths, which I will try to use to our advantage.
In trying to find out about the critical factors related to the problems, I use the following approaches:
- This approach takes into account the role of biology (e.g., health issues, genetics, sex, age), psychology (e.g., thoughts, feelings, perceptions, beliefs, expectations, memory), and social context (e.g., economic status, quality of important relationships, living conditions, finances, employment status, cultural factors, support systems).
- Lifespan- Developmental:
- Different stages of life, from infancy to older adulthood, come with different sets of challenges or milestones that we would hope to meet.
- At different stages, a person may struggle with different issues such as motor and language development, schooling, identity, friendship, sexuality, intimacy and romantic relationships, vocation or career, family planning, child-bearing, parenting, retirement, grief, and so on.
- Transitions from one stage to another can feel particularly stressful. For instance, during the transition from adolecence to young adulthood, a person may find it difficult to meet the goals of finding an identity for themselves and achieving greater independance from their parents. Parents may also experience this time as challenging.
- A person’s developmental history is important because: (1) it helps understand how the past influences how one currently thinks, feels, and acts, and (2) it helps understand one’s plans and wishes for the future (or lack thereof).
Once I have a global understanding of the client (an individual, couple or group) and their problem, I plan a client-centered treatment plan. This plan may integrate several of the following scientifically-supported approaches:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therary (CBT)
- Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
- Motivational Interviewing
- Short-term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (STDP)
- Parent Management Training
- Family Systems Therapy
- Interpersonal Therapy
These treatments have been tried and tested over decades in clinical trials that have demonstrated the effectiveness of psychotherapy, its most important ingredients, whether it works better for some people or situations than for others, and how therapy compares to other treatments such as medication.
My knowledge of this research base and of these treatments allows me to customize the treatment to match your specific symptoms, situation, abilities, goals, budget and time constraints, and level of motivation (critical ingredient).
There is no one size fits all treatment.
This type of matching based on a comprehensive asssessment offers the best chance of achieving the goals we set together.