Quite a few people who want to begin therapy ask me this. Of course, this is a perfectly reasonable question, but I still usually find myself searching for a good response. The answer should be easy. My specialization as a therapist is the treatment of anxiety and my subspecialty is OCD therapy. Many people, therefore, contact me because they are struggling with one of these issues or both. Of course, I have experience as well as training and skills working with people on these matters, so I could just say “Yes” with confidence and conviction.
What is your position in some of the hierarchies of your life? Are you a manager, do you have a boss, are you an employer, an employee, a parent, somebody of wealth, somebody with little means, do you see yourself at the fringes of society or among the movers and shakers? Hierarchies are everywhere. They structure our life on this planet in so many ways that we tend to lose track on how they impact our sense of self and well being. We create practical and more or less innocent hierarchies such as among our favorite foods or colors, but we also attach our worth as human beings to the hierarchies we find ourselves in. Hierarchies are arrangements of power and whether we experience being at the top, the bottom or somewhere in the middle of a human hierarchy we tend to internalize the level of power (or powerlessness) that comes with this position. Continue reading →
Some people love acting on stage or in films. They loan their body and imagination to a fictional character and make us believe in its existence. We are moved to tears or break into heartfelt laughter at their performance and experience their adventures vicariously for a while. I have not done much of this kind of acting, apart from being a ghost in a school play, but I admire actors and their skills. Before I became a therapist I was a professional fiction writer and have created characters on page, which requires imagining the feelings of somebody not yourself and bringing their thoughts and actions to life in a believable way. So when I learned about role theory during my clinical social work training, I was naturally drawn to this way of describing how we interact in society.
A little while ago an amazing poem by a 6-year-old boy circulated on the internet. It is charming for its misspelled words and the last two lines convey this beautiful image, “We danst to the mozik/We made personal space” (spelling as in the original).
These lines so perfectly capture the idea of this small area of space around us that moves with us when we move and whose size depends on the situation we find ourselves in. This physical personal space is something we are unconsciously always aware of and we learn to sense and respect other people’s personal space as well. Continue reading →
In my work as a therapist and clinical social worker I come across the concept of hope frequently. For the last years I worked at an agency in San Francisco serving people who were often homeless, very poor, addictively ill, and who had been confronted with existential obstacles for a long time–sometimes all of their lives. Many of them experienced traumatizing events. From the outside it would seem that hope is not easy to come by when your life path has been one of struggles and disappointments. When I began my work at this agency, I was told that one of my tasks was to give people hope. Continue reading →
I am immensely fortunate and grateful to have a number of very dear friends. Some live close by and some are far away on other continents. One of them, my spouse, I see every day, and others I have not seen in years. I was taking a walk not too long ago and started thinking of a friend I had not spoken to in a few weeks and made a mental note to call her later that day. During this thought process I realized how close I felt to her and how her friendship, warmth, and support have settled in me, become part of me, something I can feel and have access to independent of actual contact. Just thinking of this friend made me feel accepted and appreciated. Continue reading →
I often think about vitality. It is an irresistible force and people who derive their energy directly from their love and acceptance of life are magnetic to me. All of us are kept alive by vitality, it is the pure energy that set in motion our first heartbeat as well as the first neuron sparking in our brain. It is the energy we feel when we wake up in the morning and that we use to get out of bed and face the day whether our body aches or our soul is crying from sadness. Continue reading →