In today's world everybody has some idea about what talk therapy is. "Talking to someone" (hopefully a licensed mental health professional) about your feelings has become more of a norm, and is often expected when you go through a rough patch in life. I believe that the pandemic further emphasized that need.
Talk therapy became popular because expressing our feelings through words creates a more balanced reality that we can live with or make changes in, rather than remaining stuck either in unproductive habits or a disorganized experience of mixed feelings and ideas that often lead us to symptoms of anxiety, depression or regretful decisions in life.
Psychodynamic approach is a method of psychological treatment where both parties (therapist & patient) are engaged in a conversation that address the "here and now": the dynamics of interaction with the therapist are examined as an example of the interactions of the individual outside the therapeutic setting. It is effective with adolescents, couples and families.
Modern Psychoanalytic (Relational Analysis) treatment involves a deeper examination of the patient's childhood experiences that contribute to the individual's unconscious wishes & fears, and the individual's current relationships. It is effective with individuals who are interested in a deeper, more permanent change in their life; by definition it is a longer treatment.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that focuses on recognizing and changing one's thoughts in order to achieve a change in behavior. It is effective in certain situations (for example in a crisis). One of the advantages of CBT is a heavy emphasis on developing coping skills that are useful for day-to-day functioning and self regulation.
I have been asked many time to describe a typical treatment course for anxiety. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, I believe that anxiety is a symptom that covers up true emotions that "needs to be put away" due to their intensity. These emotions are usually the unpleasant anger, uncomfortable sadness, painful shame, unbearable guilt or any combination of feelings that are in conflict with each other.
I treat anxiety on two levels: (1) on the surface, whereby the individual is developing coping skills and gains clarity and understating about it; and (2) on a deeper level where the emotions that are being hidden under the surface, are slowly uncovered and explored. As a result of the process, the symptoms of anxiety subside, and emotional energy that was held captive by the anxiety is released for a different, better use in life. Usually, people report feeling empowered when they develop a sense of control over their inner world.
Only people who went through depression can truly understand what it takes to perform an ordinary task (something that you could easily do in the past) while you are depressed. Depression is an illness, not a moral failure. The good news that it is treatable.
When the treatment for depression begins, it usually focuses on uncovering the pain caused by emotions such as rage, guilt or shame. It is not an easy process, and takes time because I believe that depression is a defense that is very much needed in order to protect our psyche from falling apart. Depression reduces our ability to function in the world, in order to help preserve the energy only for the necessary vitals such as children or job, eliminating joy and playfulness.
In addition to talk therapy, I usually engage individuals in Jungian Sand therapy and somatic experiencing work while treating depression. Sometimes in the process of treatment of depression, a traumatic event is uncovered, and conducting an EMDR session is recommended.
The quality of our relationships in life defines the quality of our life and our ability to cope with its challenges. Struggles with relational issues such as avoiding conflicts or engaging in too many of them; breaking up with a partner the moment you feel insecure; and fear of being rejected or staying in an unhealthy relationship regardless of multiple red flags that point out to the exit - all of these issues can be worked on through therapy.
Often these behavioral manifestations are masking untreated anxiety and depression. Painful inter-personal situations make people seek help.
Many couples seek couple therapy at a stage when something such as an extramarital affair has already happened and they aren't able to resolve the conflict and gain trust on their own. Many couples recover from marital crises and discover not only that they are now involved in a much healthier relationship, but also that they have changed in the process, simultaneously improving other aspects of their lives.
It is true that some marriages/relationships can not be saved by therapy because therapy is being sought at a stage when one or both spouses are too removed from the mutual desire to remain together, and are unable/unwilling to make the needed changes in themselves. In those cases, the therapeutic setting often can be used for a safe separation, especially if children are involved.
Often, i see couples where at least one of the spouses keeps reenacting past trauma that prevents the relationship from flourishing or recovering; in these cases I suggest that the spouse engage in separate individual EMDR sessions in order to address the past traumatic event/s with the hope to move the couple's therapy forward.
Unresolved traumatic events or relationships of the past can haunt people regardless of the amount of time that has past since the event/s. Early childhood traumatic events are especially daunting because they often do not have a solid story that accompanies them, especially if the traumatic situation occurred at the pre-verbal stage. These types are treatments are usually longer terms, and require a variety of approaches to address the trauma.
Traumatic events in adulthood usually require short-term interventions, such as targeted EMDR treatment that focuses on the particular singular event.
Working with teens could be challenging and rewarding at the same time. Today's teens grow up fully adjusted to the digital world; they have developed their own language and social norms that are often invisible to their parents/caregivers. Every generation of adolescents has embarked on the same mission: to separate themselves from their parents. This generation's "confusions of the tongues" turned digital and its unique challenge lies in the broader technological fluency that challenges both sides, due to its vast impact and speed .
It is part of the therapy process to allow adolescents to explore their Independence and their abilities; however, at the same time, it often requires the engagement of their parents or other family member in order to assure safety (physical and emotional).
Adolescents usually seek therapy when they recognize that they have reached their own ability to deal with situations at school or other social circles. More often then not, parents are the ones who bring their younger teens for therapy (often accompanied by significant resistance by the adolescent). Sand therapy can be helpful in these situations.
I was interviewed by Max Selver and Isabel Dubov for "Two Teens, One Crazy Generation" podcast. Listen to their September 2021 Episode: "The Truth of Maturing Minds and Mental Health" click here