“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”
- Joseph Campbell
Broadly speaking, the goal of psychotherapy is to connect with your wholeness—light and dark, joy and pain—and grow a more integrated sense of self. In the process, you can improve your relationships, strengthen self-confidence, move through changes and transitions more successfully, and expand your resilience in the face of life’s ups and downs.
I work with adults, teens, and children facing trauma, loss, depression and anxiety, relationship problems, issues with identity or the sense of self, difficulties with attachment and/or separation, and movement through life transitions.
I also specialize in early development, helping people of all ages who have experienced trauma in their childhood or infancy, and helping families navigate the challenges of the formative years.
My doctoral research centered on questions of perinatal development and the growth of the mind in its earliest moments; and my master’s research looked at the phenomena of imagination and imaginary life. My therapy work with people of all ages is animated by questions inspired by those studies: In what ways do you imagine, or wish to imagine, your life? What is it that you want to give birth to? What stops you from fulfilling that potential?
A depth psychological perspective in therapy assumes that both conscious and unconscious parts of the self—thoughts, feelings, memories, wishes, impulses—co-exist in the mind, and that both the conscious and unconscious influence our behaviors and relationships. Each of us has moments when an outward expression contradicts what we intend to do or say. Statements such as “I wasn’t myself” or “it just came out of my mouth” or “I don’t know why I did that” convey the power of the unconscious to overtake our thoughts and actions.
Depth Psychology views moments like these as cues that the psyche is out of balance. We may be aware that we are behaving in troublesome ways in our relationships, but unaware as to why. We may be aware that we are feeling powerful emotions, but unaware of the source of these emotions, and so unable to cope with them effectively.
From this perspective psychological symptoms are understood to be important communications. The darkness of a depression, the gnawing of an obsessive thought, the intrusion of anxiety—these are signs of inner conflict or mental pain, and they call for thoughtful attention.
But it isn’t necessary to have a specific problem to find psychotherapy useful and beneficial. It is a process in which we come to know ourselves deeply, evaluate our decision-making, understand our relationship patterns. With this knowledge we are opened to possibilities for new choices and positive changes—giving us the psychological grounding for creating more purposeful, meaningful, and satisfying lives.
The shadow is a psychological term for all that we can’t see in ourselves. In the poet Robert Bly’s words, it is “the long bag we drag behind us,” filled with the parts of us we learned were unacceptable, disliked, rejected, or less valued. When we say that we’re wrestling with our demons, or having a midlife crisis, or facing a dark night of the soul, we are face-to-face with our shadow. These are invitations to bring the darkness into awareness and to assimilate its power in positive ways.
Left unattended, the shadow will cause us to be inhibited or self-sabotaging or destructive. When tended to, we grow more accepting of our true being, become more authentic versions of ourselves, release trapped energy, unlock creative potential, and improve our relationships by not projecting onto others so readily.
Carl Jung identified the shadow—along with the Self (the psychological center of the human), the persona (the version of ourself that we show to the world), and the anima/animus (the idealized other)—as the major archetypes, or psychic life forces, comprising the structure of the psyche. Their exploration is the heart of Depth Psychology.
My work in the field of perinatal psychology is grounded in contemporary psychoanalytic theory, attuned to modern neuroscience, and made expansive by the vision of a transpersonal process wherein the birth of the self is a lifelong unfolding.
Perinatal research in psychoanalysis looks at the interplay of attachment and separation, and on the ways, both conscious and unconscious, that a parent’s psyche installs itself in the growing mind of the child.
Neuropsychology adds knowledge about the growth of the brain’s right hemisphere—associated with emotional and bodily states—from which emerges the capacity to connect with others deeply, to access creativity, and to have an experience of the spiritual or sacred. The right brain contains the nerve centers responsible for experiencing the self as an integrated whole. Its development begins in the last trimester of pregnancy and dominates through the first three years.
Transpersonal psychology deepens these ideas by describing universal patterns of transformation related to the birth process (“basic perinatal matrices”) that are inherited in every human being. This perspective sees the birth process as an archetypal model for exploring themes of love and loss, oneness and separateness, isolation and connection—states of being that every person experiences, in ways either forceful or subtle, in the normal course of a life.
Perinatal work is for women and men, young and old. It can also be for pregnant women and mother-baby pairs, an especially beautiful and vulnerable time of development for both beings. If this works is of interest to you, or if you have questions about it, please contact me.