Here are some aspects of how I work:
Change is a creative adjustment to one’s environment, which emerges from a compassionate exploration of one’s current state. The essential elements of that change are curiosity, compassion, and creativity.
Self-exploration begins with a genuine curiosity about who we are and how we function right now. As children we are naturally curious, but many of us have lost our sense of adventure. Perhaps we have negative memories; more knowledge of a painful situation may not be what we want. We want relief and escape. Often the tools of self-exploration such as awareness of sensation in our bodies and moment-to-moment emotional experience have been lost. We have become desensitized, puzzled by what is happening inside us.
Regaining an awareness of what is happening inside is the first step of therapy. It entails bringing a child’s wonder to whatever phenomena are happening both inside session and beyond. Information previously deemed trivial or not meaningful may be quite valuable to the understanding of the buried or disowned parts of ourselves.
Therapy is a shared endeavor of noticing what is happening in your mind, your feelings, your physical self as well as what is emerging out of the interaction between you the client and me the therapist. Embracing curiosity means being open to a wide range of data, reserving judgment about what is or is not important until we have a clearer sense of what is there.
One of the main blocks to embracing curiosity is a lack of compassion for oneself. We judge ourselves negatively because of bad habits or other perceived shortcomings. The judgment short-circuits meaningful exploration because we only allow reflection that leads to a solution to the problem. We label anything that does not produce results immediately self-indulgent and a waste of time. The judgment can become so severe that our urge to adapt and grow is crushed. Since we cannot think of the appropriate solutions, we give up and try merely to deaden the pain.
Compassionate self-exploration, on the other hand, welcomes all awareness–be it of our strengths or of secrets that cause us shame.
Once we have engaged our curiosity to discover more about ourselves and have employed our compassion to accept and own all of what we discover, we are ready to decide what’s next. This often begins with experimenting with what we have come to know in ourselves, perhaps accentuating or exaggerating a particular quality or, conversely, experimenting with the polarity of that quality.
For example, if I am shy, what do I notice about how I embody my shyness (gaze on the floor, shoulders hunched, shallow breathing)? What happens if I exaggerate that embodiment? What shifts in me? And what happens if I choose to configure my body in a different way (gaze forward or up, shoulders back)? What do I like or not like about this new configuration?
In session, we explore these different ways of being through trying out different ways of behaving or thinking, noticing the effects of these experiments, and moving forward. Sessions are interactional, and as my awareness of you and your behaviors grows, I will let you know what I notice. I may suggest you try out a new behavior in session or ask you to pay particular attention to something you’re already doing. These behavior experiments can dramatically shift your awareness of your condition, but you are always the one who decides whether or not you try something new.
Outside session, the process of experimentation continues and often includes writing in a journal, reading, meditation, experiencing art, conscious movement, interaction with nature, and spiritual practice, either individually or collectively. You are the engine of your own growth.