The answer to this question depends on who is asking. Amongst the therapeutic community they are usually looking for a theoretical position and I ramble off terms like Existentialism, Gestalt, Attachment and Psychodynamic with some Solution Focused tools in my belt.
For future clients, I try to let them know how important the connection is with the therapist and how much I value the opportunity to witness them as they process some very uncomfortable and painful emotions. I very much believe that growth and healing demands a safe environment where truthful answers grow from truly empathetic questions.
Do you prefer Couples or Individuals?
That's a loaded question but I think I know why you are asking. I believe it would be impossible to enter the field of counseling without the intent of being an individual counselor and that's where the majority of our work lies. Being a couples counselor is a different energy. I assume you realize that the two are very different and take very different skill types. I take couples therapy very seriously and am confident that being a successful couples therapist takes as much talent as it does knowledge. As a part of my continued devotion to couples counseling and the value I place on relationships I offer pre-marital counseling for a local agency and co-teach monthly couples courses for engaged couples.
In my heart of hearts I believe the crux of our existence is in our relationships with others as much as ourselves. I take great pride in my couples work.
Do you work with addiction?
Early in my career it was something I avoided as I had watched a dear friend suffer from it and did not think I could work with it. I then saw the ubiquitous nature of addiction and found that learning about it is critical to becoming an effective therapist. I began working at an In-Patient Recovery clinic here in Portland. It was there that I really learned about addiction and more importantly its relationship with the human experience. I still currently work on-call at the clinic and work in groups involving addiction. Yes, I work a lot with addiction and feel I have a wide range of experience with it.
What's the difference between a Psychotherapist, Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?
That's a great question and very common. A Psychotherapist has a Masters in psychology and has met their state requirements to be licensed. A psychotherapist is educated and trained in the practice of talk therapy. This is what most people think of when they speak of seeing a therapist (think Sigmund Freud or Good Will Hunting). They also can assess and diagnose. A Psychologist can also practice psychotherapy but because they have an extra three to four years of schooling, they have a broader scope allowing them to take on more responsibility in the clinical setting and have more expertise with diagnosing and assessing. A Psychiatrist is a Medical Doctor and went to medical school. They can do everything stated above as well as prescribe medicine. This is a brief overview and if you still have questions I am happy to try and answer them.
How long should therapy last?
This is a common question and unfortunately it does not have a straightforward answer. Therapy is completely individual and depends on the circumstances for the client. Are you suffering from Grief, Trauma, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Depression or are you feeling with out direction? I can tell you this much, I am not a quick fix person but am never shocked when I see dramatic improvement early and never surprised when breakthroughs seem hard to come by.
Do you go to therapy?
Yes. My job requires that I sit with a lot of pain and take on a lot of emotion. I care for my clients very much and take them with me long after our sessions are over. I could not do this if I wasn't constantly understanding myself, how I am processing my emotions and checking in with someone regularly.
Where did you go to school?
I did my undergraduate work at USC (University of Southern California) and my Masters at Lewis & Clark College here in Portland.
What's with the bike?
I liked the idea of two people trying to work together. That can be a metaphor for the client and the therapist, or for the couple I am seeing, or the client and society. Also, riding a bike is fun and therapeutic and a very self-sufficient means for transportation.