Counseling & Psychotherapy with Adults
A former Argentinian patient of mine had a nickname in Spanish for her depression, “la depre.” It was striking how depression had been a pretty constant companion in her life that she had gotten used to and even named. She also suffered from alcoholism, which temporarily softened her unhappiness with her life, but also triggered shame and more depression, complicating her treatment. A Puerto Rican woman with a great sense of humor was diagnosed with breast cancer, attempted suicide, and was briefly hospitalized. Despite feeling depressed, she still joked openly about the effects of radiation therapy on her breasts, which made us both laugh a lot. She used humor in a healthy way to cope with her feelings about the impact of cancer on her body. The depression of an intelligent and ambitious Venezuelan man was caused by constant self-criticism over never reaching inflexible and high career ideals that tormented him with feelings of shame and failure. Another very successful professional man was plunged into turmoil in his family life when his wife was confronted with signs that he had felt unhappy with their marriage for many years.
There seem to be as many different kinds of depression and of anxiety and combinations of the two as there are people. Unhappiness and worries are made up of clusters of symptoms that often make people feel overwhelmed. Counseling or psychotherapy work in part by analyzing or breaking down these complex emotional bundles that are somewhat unique to each individual into their component parts. That is why therapy is called analytic. Problems feel less overwhelming and worrisome when therapist and patient work together to unravel these combinations of symptoms. Then issues can be addressed separately, one at a time.
Increasing insight into distorted perceptions of self and other requiring modification, and correction of repetitive, self-destructive patterns of behavior are frequent goals of analytic therapy. One of the patients I mentioned above was so paralyzed with fear over never reaching perfectionistic goals that he was able to put forth only a fraction of the effort at work required to achieve realistic goals, which would have boosted his self-confidence. A vicious cycle got created unintentionally where he caused what he feared to come about through the actions he took and the ones he did not take.
Analytic therapy tries not just to remove surface symptoms like depression or anxiety of which people are aware. It goes under the surface of awareness to alter problematic inner psychological workings that go unnoticed when life is going well. Lasting change is the goal, not temporary improvement that leaves inner workings free to continue doing damage once a crisis passes. Many mental health professionals who employ other types of therapy with their patients choose analytic therapy when they themselves need to see someone.
If depression or anxiety is causing you emotional pain, if symptoms are making you feel paralyzed, robbed of satisfying relationships and productive work, please contact me for a thorough evaluation of your mental health needs. Together we can look at the emotional challenges you are facing, as well as the effectiveness of the healthy sectors of your personality in coping with stress generated by the outside world and by your inner landscape of thoughts, feelings, and personality. We can help you become more aware of what requires modification, like harmful old ways of coping, and how to build on talents and abilities you already possess. As a close listener with a wealth of training and clinical experience, I will provide an emotionally safe, confidential environment that will promote objective and effective non-self-critical reflection.