The tasks of adulthood from age 18-65 are to find mutually satisfying relationships, meaningful work, and to transmit our values back into society thru raising children or through other community endeavors. I am willing to join you in an effort to address any of the following issues that can interfere with that process.
Humans are equipped to manage a moderate amount of stress. When prolonged or when all facets of a person's life are under stress at the same time, however, such as at work, primary relationship and with relatives or children, there is no area of one's life where one can refuel and find balance. In the past 15 years, neuroscientists collaborated with developmental psychologists and helped us understand that emotions are not abstract experiences in our mind. Emotions are experienced physically in our neurological system. Difficulty sleeping, headaches, or stomach problems suggest distress. Chronic stress overtaxes the immune system which leaves a person at higher risk of illness or development of diseases. Science's discovery of this mind-body connection underscores the importance of getting help when problems aren't going away.
Sleeping problems, increases or decreases in appetite, irritable mood, a decrease of pleasure in activity, difficulty concentrating or thoughts of death are some of the symptoms of depression. Dysthymia is a milder form of depression where there is not despair, yet one simply does not experience much joy in life. Alexithymia is another related condition, and sometimes resembles depression, but involves a person being unable to identify nor express their feelings and is one of the lesser known causes of depression. For many, medication is either not an option or not enough to address the issues involved in their daily living and requires additional help.
A trauma can occur if you or a loved one experiences or witnesses a serious injury, an accidental or violent death, a sexual attack or threat of harm. Not all events result in one being traumatized, nor leading to PTSD. The individual response can vary greatly depending on their support system or prior traumas or how they uniquely interpret the event. The psychological effects are greater for those traumas that are human caused, repeated, unpredictable, or perpetrated by a family member. Children are particularly vulnerable to being traumatized. They do not have the life experience to know what or why something is happening and depend on others for explanation. Without help, children sometimes make the wrong conclusions about themselves, and usually much broader generalizations about the world in which they live. ("I don't matter", "women can't be trusted", "people will hurt you", "it's not worth trying") For adults with childhood traumas, it is often necessary to explore what conclusions were made and those are not always clear and visible, yet are causing biases that are impinging on daily life. Trauma work resembles looking at a kaleidoscope, each viewing may bring forth something slightly different. While difficult, there is much hope that trauma work can bring transformation and uncover untapped strength.
Focusing problems, restlessness, forgetting, and impulsivity can wreak havoc not only in academic and work life, but also in relationships. To some, medication is not preferred or not enough to fully manage the impact. Finding ways to compensate for the symptoms and to find leisure activities or career paths in which the symptoms will be assets can help a person's self esteem and acceptance.
There are many forms of anxiety: Panic Attacks, Generalized Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive behaviors or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although some infants exhibit a temperament that show extreme caution, avoiding almost all new people or new situations, only 2-3% of them will develop significant anxiety disorders later on. Innate vulnerability is only one factor; the presence and intensity of childhood stressors, the presence of parental support and coping skills are other factors that can keep things in balance or contributes to the development of anxiety conditions.
Grief becomes complicated when the death was at a young age or the result of an accident, a suicide, a crime. Complicated grief often occurs when there had been a troubled relationship with the deceased, or if there had been conflict at the last contact with the loved one, or if the survivor is left with financial or other family burdens that are insurmountable. Estimates show that 10% of those that are grieving are barely functioning, time does not heal for everyone.
We do not get to choose our body's genetic inheritance of size and shape. Yet when media puts physical appearance at center stage, this deeply private matter, has become a public one. If this has also happened within a family or within a relationship, it can have a profound effect of a person's self concept, body image, and actions around food and exercise and can result in Anorexia, Bulimia, or Compulsive eating or exercise. Some overeating or avoiding food may be used to manage feelings such as anxiety, or rejection and by addressing underlying emotional regulation, eating habits can become better stabilized.
Divorce is the unfortunate culmination of a very difficult situation. Anger and regret are some of the feelings that can linger. Secondary losses complicate the adjustment process such as loss of one's home, income reduction, losing relatives and friends. The future has new unknowns, some dreams disappear and the world of dating at an older age can bring someone into a painful emotional roller coaster.
Every daily interaction is an opportunity to feel either connected or disconnected. John Gottman refers to those moments as "emotional bids". Feelings of frustration, disappointment, anger, anxiety, stress, may suggest that you are experiencing disconnections with your spouse, relatives, children, co-workers or close friends. To overcome conflicts, it is necessary to try to understand the needs that are indirectly being communicated. My work will explore the disconnections, identify the underlying needs and viewpoints that are being frustrated, and communication skills can be learned to be better attuned.
Chronic health or Disability:
There are many possible psychological effects associated with chronic health conditions or injuries. A loss of physical ability and other less obvious ones may need to be grieved in the journey: loss of control, a sense of normalcy, of being whole, of freedom, of career or recreation identities, of independence and competence. Disabilities can also make a person vulnerable to rejection and criticism and sometimes to feelings of hopelessness of ever being good enough.
Sexual abuse and sexuality:
Human touch and affection are one of the most fundamental human needs. Showing respect in that personal space communicates trust and security in relationships. Molestation or abuse occurs when someone's personal boundaries are violated. Many children do not have the language nor the developmental capacity to explain or comprehend body boundary violations. With any form of help, a child can overcome abusive experiences. A child that reaches adulthood without any help may have made their own inaccurate conclusions about themselves and about others. Some individuals may have difficulty trusting people. Others have accepted a role in being an object for others to use. Victims of sexual abuse can be affected in places such as body image, intimacy, nightmares, isolation, addictions or other coexisting issues. Given such experience, I consider safety, respect and dignity as essential components for healing to take place in the therapeutic relationship as well as a model for achieving that level of security in other parts of their life. I testified in four Michigan counties as an expert witness in sexual abuse.
Self esteem problems come in many forms: self criticism, self sabotage, self loathing, self hatred, or a distorted body image and is one of the most challenging but vital issues to address.
Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) or Adult Children from other Dysfunctional families:
Healthy families promote a sense of belonging while respecting and promoting the uniqueness of its individuals. In this nurturing environment, children develop trust, an identity and are learning problem solving and communication skills. In severely dysfunctional families, however, parents that have addictions, serious personality or psychiatric problems can have a negative effects its members; children may sense the need to maintain the equilibrium in the house for the parents through their own behavior. With dynamics such as secrets, enmeshment, physical and sexual abuse, neglect, criticism, rejection, silent treatment etc. children find ways to manage the intensity. Sometimes this means pleasing the parent through achievements, withdrawing, or taking on adult tasks; these behaviors may evolve into a role of either hero, lost child, mascot (comedian) or caretaker. In other children, the stress leads to problem behaviors that become more the focus of attention than on the parent's problem, a condition sometimes referred to as the scapegoat. If problems are not addressed, by adulthood, those behaviors may become ingrained personality traits that interfere with self esteem, trust level, outlook on life, identity, regulating emotions, relationship or workplace stress, self care, etc. Addressing the family dynamics can bring clarity to the problem solving process and transform one's identity.
Post Adoption Issues: Sometimes a loving adoptive home is not enough for a child to overcome issues related to early neglect or abuse. For over 6 years, I provided therapy to children who were in foster care or had been permanently removed from their parents home. I bring knowledge to these unique behavioral, emotional and attachment challenges.
Adolescents: This stage has a primary task to create an identity separate from their family and as a member of the wider society. It can be a time of ideals, passions, activism. Peers become primary and family can become more conflicted. Having too much freedom or too much restraint to explore the world can contribute to reaching adulthood with role confusion. Many of the above adult problems can arise during this time period and interfere with this important developmental task. Therapy can be a place for a teen to address the issues as well as safely explore their thoughts and feelings to support this important process objectively.
Other issues are brought into therapy such as academic underachievement, introverts, perfectionism, bullying, performance or writing lags, or issues unique to teachers are some examples.