My work is client-centered, which attempts to tailor the therapeutic approach to the needs of the client
I offer Individual Therapy to help clients explore and resolve relationship issues, as well as to treat anxiety, depression, trauma, and addiction. The core of my therapeutic approach is from a Psychodynamic perspective, in which one’s understanding of oneself and one’s relationships deepens as one reflects on it. As experience is understood and contextualized, anxiety is lowered or becomes easier to bear, and one naturally begins to move toward life goals. I use Attachment Theory, which looks at the ways in which childhood experiences may affect one’s relationship to self and others, to help clients add dimension to this understanding. Sometimes, however, more practical help is needed, and I incorporate other therapeutic perspectives, such as Cognitive-Behavioral techniques, Narrative Therapy concepts, and Mindfulness practice, or focus on life skills and goal setting. Research shows that Mindfulness techniques help to provide long-term relief from anxiety and depression, and lead to a sense of stability, security, and greater positivity over all.
When we tolerate anxiety well enough to sort out true needs from a desire to escape a bad feeling, we tend to move toward our goals.
While anxiety is a common problem, it is also one of the most easily treatable. Managing anxiety might mean practicing exercises that reduce symptom; or it may mean addressing the underlying issues that can lead to anxiety; or possibly picking your battles and working around problematic areas. It is important to know that anxiety itself often creates more anxiety, so if we can embrace our initial stress points, we can keep the anxious feelings from spreading.
Depression is one of the most common complaints that presents in my practice. Depression presents with many faces. Some can’t get out of bed; others can’t get to bed. Some have bouts with anger; others have bouts with tears. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines depression as: “An illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely ‘pull themselves together’ and just get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression.” While many underestimate depression, the right treatment can mitigate symptoms and help heal its underlying causes.
People often recognize their difficulty with alcohol and drugs, though evaluating their level of difficulty and how it impacts their lives proves more challenging. Addiction or abuse of drugs and alcohol requires a multi-level approach. I work with clients to help them gain a better understanding of their alcohol and drug use, including their ability to regulate its use, the role it plays in their lives, and, if needed, the form of treatment (cold turkey or reduction) that best suits the client.
In addition to addressing the extent to which drugs and alcohol are used and how such use affects health, relationships, and overall functioning helping clients learn to cope with and self-soothe in response to life stressors is an essential part of treatment. Understanding the role of an addiction can be helpful in other behavioral patterns that might feel out of control, like sexual compulsions, spending, computer/internet usage, eating, online porn, TV watching, work, etc.
Trauma & PTSD
There is a great deal of reserach availablr on the treatment of trauma and PTSD, much of it from the work of Pete Levine who has developed a Somatic approach to healing from trauma. Helping clients to understand their own body’s responses to traumatic events, and the helplessness that may linger from such experiences, is part of the healing process. Michael also looks at developmental (or “attachment”) trauma, which may arise from childhood experiences with attachment figures. Understanding how one has been affected by these experiences helps to normalize the feelings and coping mechanisms that have develop as a result. This leads relief and a greater sense of agency overall.
As human beings, we’re wired to be social creatures. Both in friendships and romantic relationships, we feel connected through our shared experience, creating a sense of fulfillment. When our relationships stop working the way we want them to, there are healthy ways to get them back on track. In therapy, we’ll look at both positive and negative attributes of your relationships, and together we’ll break down problematic patterns that may not be immediately apparent. Circumstances don’t have to stifle your generosity of spirit. Your relationships can and should help you thrive.
Self-esteem issues can arise from a number of different sources. feeling an acute sense of insecurity may be a symptom of depression, of unresolved trauma, or even temperament (shyness). It can be residue from relationship in which one has felt devalued or abandoned. It may even be biology (a genetic predisposition to anxiety). Often, this sense of insecurity and fear of how others perceive us causes us to isolate ourselves. We create this personal narrative – our mental self-portrait – from only a small portion of our life experiences an which we choose to focus. Understanding the sources of these feelings is crucial to treating it, and the exploration itself often leads to relief and self-acceptance.
grief & loss
There is no timetable for overcoming grief, as most serious losses can never be reversed. It is important in dealing with grief to allow oneself to break down; otherwise, that pain gets stored inside and may emerge years later after causing problems along the way. In therapy, we can give your grief the time and space that it needs, without allowing it to take hold and control your life.
In my practice, I work with many gay, bi-sexual & lesbian persons, both individually and in couples, as well as with those who are questioning their sexual identity. I am very comfortable in working with this community, and I provide a gay-affirmative environment. Many of us who lived through the AIDS crisis and witnessed deaths of friends understand some of the unique challenges this community can face. I provide a trained, compassionate ear for those confronting a myriad of issues related to LGBTQ identity and relationships.
Actors & creative individuals
In addition to my psychological training, my background in the creative arts gives me deep compassion for actors and other artists—both professionals and those who simply seek more creativity in their lives. Living authentically is the key to being a successful creative person, and building a life that is true to your belief system will strengthen your confidence and give you more energy.
As a coach, Michael has worked with individual clients ranging from small business owners to artists to corporate lawyers to actors to politicians.