Month: March 2013

Why Therapy Works (and how I work)

Hi, my name is Andrea. I’m glad you stopped by my website.

I’m presuming you’ve stopped by because you have some interest in what I do for a living, that is, support people in healing from trauma, stress, and other life issues.  So this post is intended to give you some sense of who I am and how therapy works.

In another section, you can read about my professional credentials and experience. But aside from all that, I’m a person who has always really wanted to help other people heal. It’s been my passion for as long as I can remember.

Considerable research shows that the most fundamental and important part of therapy is the relationship you have with your therapist.  Of course, it’s imperative that the therapist have good training and know what they’re doing. At the same time, a strong and trusting relationship between those two human beings sitting in the room together, is the best predictor of good outcomes in therapy. And it certainly makes the process easier and more comfortable! Here is an article summarizing a recent study on this topic.  Here ‘s another one. Here is the first entry I got when I Googled “most important part of therapy”. And here’s a Wikipeda article about the topic; and here’s another article about the importance of therapeutic relationship.

So therapy isn’t a mechanical, impersonal process like getting an oil change in your car.  This is because people are herd animals.  Think about it!

If you were a lizard, you could just hatch out of your egg without either parent even being present (and if they were, they’d probably try to eat you).  You’d pretty much know what to do already: open your mouth and eat a bug, or run away from the shadow of an approaching human foot. No one would have to teach you any of this. You wouldn’t be particularly interested in the company of other lizards (until it was time to mate).  Do you ever see herds of lizards running down the street together? I haven’t. That’s because they are simple creatures who lack several components of the human nervous system.  They don’t cuddle and play with each other.  In short–they don’t need each other to regulate their nervous systems, that is, stay in balance.

But we do! From the time that we are born (and certainly before that), through the time that we die, we need other human beings to function optimally.  Mammals are complex creatures who team up and rely on each other to attack certain problems of survival together.  This is particularly true when we are young, small, mostly helpless–and in the process of constructing our nervous systems.

Sometimes people don’t like to hear that, especially when they have been let down or wounded by their relationships with other people. “Fine, I’ll just do it myself, then!” they say;  or, “The only one you can really rely on, is yourself.”  While there may be some truth to that, it can’t be the whole story.  There’s no way to escape the way we humans are wired.  Social or interpersonal wounding is very often a major factor in mood disorders such as anxiety and depression–and social wounds can’t be healed in isolation. Interpersonal wounding must be healed interpersonally.

Fortunately, we humans are remarkably resilient.  We retain certain unique natural healing abilities no matter what our age.  This has been confirmed by recent advances in understanding neuroplasticity, or the nervous system’s ability to learn new things.  It’s also being continually confirmed by clinical experience. Another good thing is that this world is full of good helping professionals who understand how to cultivate and harness the power of the therapeutic relationship to help the client heal.  If the person has experienced relational wounding, then the process is slower and more deliberately gentle.

So what’s the upshot of all this?

Whether you’re looking to heal from substantial stress, or just trying to get some support with certain goals or situations, often the fastest and most thorough way is to engage the services of a helping professional. Since your relationship with that professional is so important, it’s a good idea to shop around and choose someone you feel comfortable with.  My therapeutic style is person-centered and informal, but professional and with good boundaries. I’m down to earth and fairly direct. I’m constantly studying and learning more about the exciting field of body-centered psychotherapy, but my natural tendency is to be warm and approachable. I tend to work really well with a broad range of people, including those who are creative, artistic or out-of-the-box.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to schedule a consultation.

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