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Counseling for Individuals & Couples

"Using the mind 
so it doesn’t use you"

I offer individualized counseling intended to meet the unique needs, strengths and challenges of my clients. A main theme of this work is each client discovering ways to live with greater comfort, self-compassion, confidence and freedom in mind, body and relationships. I tend to believe that people contain the ingredients for joy and thriving within themselves. But we can all lose our connection to our sense of well-being, and the wise among us reach out for support in those times- it’s a skillful thing to do.

I commonly weave mindfulness, meditation and yoga-based practices into the counseling process. My clients have found that combining the cognitive or insight part of therapy with the body-based practices creates a best-of-both-worlds effect. Yoga-based breathing practices are targeted to regulate the nervous system. The creativity of weaving a mix of approaches for each client is one of the things that makes my job ever-changing and energizing for me.

I’ve had the good fortune to learn about mental health and wellness in pretty diverse settings, from homeless shelters and psychiatric hospitals, including the Psychiatric Emergency Service of Cambridge Hospital, to meditation and yoga centers. That wide range of experiences allows me to draw on an array of options and practices in therapy.

Perhaps the most useful goal in therapy is not happiness...but resilience.

I’ve found that a key part of feeling good, ironically, is learning to feel bad: Learning how to feel and accept painful feelings with less struggle. This builds Resilience, the capacity to ride the ups and downs of life, and our own emotions. For example: Regarding anxiety, many have found that the best goal is not alleviating the anxiety but learning to not be so controlled, demoralized or afraid of it. Anxiety is a natural human feeling, and we all have it. Wisdom comes in learning how to react to it differently, and not make it worse.

 

Anxiety is an uncomfortable feeling for most of us, but it’s really gotten a bad reputation in the world of psychiatry, which has labeled it as a ‘disorder’. When people are told they have an anxiety disorder, it gives them the message that they have a disease that is treatable primarily through medication, if at all. My experience tells me this isn’t always the best way to view anxiety. Instead, we can learn to see anxiety, like sadness, anger, joy and love, as inevitable and unavoidable feelings, that simply diagnose us as human, not sick. Often times, what makes the experience of anxiety much more difficult is the way we judge it, worry about it (“What if I get anxious on the plane?”) and become discouraged for having it. When we begin to accept it as a natural human feeling, we’re on a new path, toward more self-compassion, less struggle with feelings we can’t control, and a greater sense of comfort in our own skin.

 

When we stop struggling with emotions, thoughts and people we can’t control, and grow resilience, we find a kind of happiness- the happiness of being less controlled by our emotional reactions and unhelpful thoughts. This is the happiness of freedom- and the confidence of knowing we can feel our feelings without fear.

Some of my areas of expertise and experience are:

  • Strength-based approaches and positive psychology focusing on growing the skills of thriving

  • Mindfulness and meditation informed counseling

  • Mind/body techniques to empower clients to feel confident in mind, body and nervous system

  • Kripalu Yoga

  • Vipassana meditation

  • Stress management coaching

  • Addiction counseling, including support utilizing and understanding the 12-step model

  • communication coaching for individuals and couples

  • Acceptance Commitment Therapy

A few key ideas about therapy for me are:

  • Understanding how we each create suffering in our reactions to the world

  • Understanding these unhelpful reactions in mind and body brings greater freedom and skillfulness

  • We can cultivate positive patterns in mind, body, behavior and relationships (this can be called “Positive Psychology”)

  • Therapy is most effective when it combines discussion, understanding and direct experience; and when it combines mind and body

A lot of value of therapy comes from clients taking an active role, including practicing the concepts and techniques in the “real world” between our meetings. I often suggest homework of practice, articles to read, and talks to listen to between meetings.

My Approach to Couples Therapy

One of the most important things for couples to learn is that how we communicate is as important as what we communicate. I evaluate couples on their ability to communicate effectively and non-destructively, and provide coaching on how to work together rather than against each other.

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Counseling Areas of Specialty:

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What Clients Say:

"You’ve been a hugely positive influence in my life, and I’m very grateful"

Liv B.