These are fictional descriptions made up in order to give you an idea of my areas of clinical practice.
Jim was a 38 year old Irish-American man from the south, tall, strong in build and voice, and extremely likeable. Anxious and restless, he sought therapy with two primary concerns: why didn’t his relationships work out, and what should he be doing as a career? His life course thus far and his sense of future possibilities were strikingly deflated compared to his potential. In therapy he disentangled himself, always graciously, from a pattern of exploitation by needy family and lovers. He also discovered and activated his intelligence, charm, integrity, and work ethic to arrive at a significant position in a competitive field. It took another block of a few months, somewhat later, to undo residual relational masochism and find a lasting and giving life partner.
Maria and Robert
Maria and Robert sought treatment as a couple due to stalled development of their marital and work lives that was turning them against each other. As partners since high school, they were very close, had jointly given up substances a year earlier when they married right out of college, but now were adrift and fearful of failing to make a happy life as they entered their adulthood.
Therapy addressed how their notable differences in family background had established assumptions and concessions that now were sources of depression and conflict. Over the course of a year they reset the balance of strengths and needs in their relationship by exploring these previously unknown dynamics: they became mutual supporters instead of competitors.
Penny was a 33 year old lesbian woman who was chronically disappointed in her love life. Because she could not bear to be to blame, she would engineer ways of getting rejected by her disappointing partners to justify her escape. Therapy helped her identify self-devaluation, internalized from both parental and societal disapproval of her sexuality that generalized to her whole sense of self The result was excessive expectations to compensate for these learned “inadequacies.” She was able to become more open to love as she became more compassionate with herself.