Brief Summary of Modalities
These short videos and summaries represent several of the modalities that I use in my practice. In general, my theoretical orientation is informed by a larger integration of these perspectives, and a few additional ones that are not mentioned here.
Internal Family Systems (IFS) - Created by Richard Schwartz
One of the core understandings of depth psychology is that who we are today is primarily shaped and driven by our early experiences in our childhood. Through both positive and negative experiences, we gradually develop a sense of who we are - an identity - and what the world is. Therefore, in depth psychology we look deeply both into our past and present experience, with an orientation towards understanding the truth about ourselves and our lives.
Another core idea of depth psychology is that human beings have an “unconscious”, and that a significant part of our lives is driven by events, memories, and feelings that we are not consciously aware of, and are under the surface of our conscious awareness. A large part of what becomes unconscious in us consists of painful experiences, truths, and memories that were difficult for us. Part of the job of depth psychology is to uncover and embrace these buried contents of our experience, which helps us finally process what did not get to be processed. In this way, we heal ourselves and become whole.
At the same time, many of our positive qualities were also repressed: for whatever reason these positive qualities, like self-value, intelligence, love, strength, and joy weren’t welcomed or valued by our early environment, or even outright rejected. If we don't "own", or consciously reclaim our positive qualities, we will project these qualities onto others or onto certain situations in our lives. Robert Johnson, a well-known Jungian analyst, describes this phenomenon by saying that we have buried our "inner gold" (our precious qualities) because of past events, but also because we don't have the capacity to claim it yet - it's too much to handle.
As a result of not being able tolerate our own good qualities, we psychologically "project" our inner gold onto other people - people whose qualities we idealize and admire - and we give it to them to hold for us. When we do this, these people become extremely shiny, valuable and desirable to us. But as psychology has discovered, what is so precious and appealing to us is actually our own, unclaimed true "Self" - our own beauty - that we see in the other. This Self is what we really want, but we don't believe that it is part of us. It is possible through psychological work to retrieve our inner gold.
Regardless of the modalities that are being used, the kind of therapy I practice is highly experiential and mindfulness-based, which means that while we are working on our experience, we are trying to embody our alive, real-time experience. Without embodying and fully being with our experience, with all of our awareness and presence, therapy can become less effective.
I primarily utilize two somatic psychotherapies. These are:
Somatic Experiencing - Created by Peter A. Levine
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy - Created by Pat Ogden
Morita therapy is a Japanese therapy that is a behavioral, action-oriented therapy. It is also a philosophy and way of life. It was brought to a Western audience by David K. Reynolds, mainly through his book, Constructive Living. I believe that it's important to have Eastern perspectives on psychotherapy in addition to traditional Western perspectives. It helps us avoid becoming too narrow-minded. This approach can be helpful for some clients who resonate with this particular philosophy.
Dr. Morita observed that certain individuals suffer when their focus is excessively preoccupied with their own thoughts, feelings, and inner world. This is classified as a "feelings-centered" life, which Morita believed was an unreliable approach life, and caused suffering through unnecessary inner conflict.
One of the major principles of Morita therapy is that we cannot change our thoughts and feelings through our own will, and that the only aspect of our lives in which we have a small portion of control is our choice to take purposeful action. In his perspective, thoughts and feelings are similar to changing weather. Like the weather, thoughts and feelings come and go, and to try to seriously fix them would be silly - just like trying to control the weather. A mature approach that brings healing to certain individuals, in his view, is accepting reality as it is, and functioning in a way that brings full attention to whatever is in front of us.
Kaizen is another Japanese therapy that helps people take action by breaking those actions down into smaller, more manageable actions. It embodies the Taoist saying of Lao Tzu: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". When we set big tasks for ourselves, we can sometimes feel paralyzed and avoid taking action because it feels too big. Kaizen understands that our brain's fear response gets triggered when our brain perceives something that might be overwhelming. In response, Kaizen helps us begin to think in a radically new way, and think about action in a new way. Essentially, by thinking smaller, and and by taking micro-actions, we can bypass the brain's fear response since each task becomes much more manageable. As we take smaller steps - even infinitesimally small steps - and accomplish them, we develop a certain confidence. In Kaizen we can accomplish a lot more by doing a lot less.