When an individual seeks therapy, I ask what precipitated their call to me, what brought them in and what tipping points made them seek help. It is important to determine what is going on in their lives presently and what obstacles they are dealing with. Additionally, I look at an individual’s history, how they were brought up, their relationship with their parents, how many siblings they have and if there was or is any alcohol or substance abuse in their family. This involves understanding patterns and coping mechanisms that an individual has learned throughout his or her life and the impact of the environment one was raised in.
“It’s about turning that negative inner voice around”
I am an active participant in therapy and respond, interpret and ask questions. I help clients look at their negative inner voice, a voice that’s in all of us, a voice that we need to understand, accept and turn around. In Jungian terms it is referred to as our dark side, the side that we allow to sabotage us or stop us in our tracks. Although we uncover the past and discuss the present, we talk about the future as well, in terms of personal goals and objectives. I use a lot of humor in therapy, sometimes we can laugh at the ridiculousness or absurdity of a situation and very often, it helps tremendously.
I have worked in substance abuse treatment for many years. The abuse of alcohol or any other drug is symptomatic of underlying issues in a person’s life. It’s about getting to the problem that is driving the substance abuse. Emotions such as anger, fear or depression have been suppressed by alcohol and drug use.
“Understand that 99% of the time substance abuse is not the problem
its the symptom”
Destructive behaviors due to substance abuse are clearly problems for the individual and their significant others. These behaviors are talked about and acknowledged and gradually replaced with positive behaviors that can lead to recovery. I encourage the support of outside groups such as Alcohol Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
I receive calls from parents asking me to help them with their child. More often than not the child or adolescent is acting out because of an issue within the family. In family therapy I look at the whole family, not just the child.
“Understanding the dynamics of the family is the first step towards healing”
Taking a family history, as well as individual history from all members, allows a deeper insight into how each member impacts the family. Sometimes, I will see the parents alone or the children individually to get a better idea of the family dynamics.
Understanding the communication style and backgrounds of the individuals in the relationship are key factors in couples therapy. Again, I determine what precipitated the call for therapy and what events have been occurring in their lives that brought them in. Most often, miscommunication, not hearing one another and making assumptions, causes a relationship to falter.
“You can’t change your partner, you can only change yourself”
The goal of couples therapy is to breakdown old destructive patterns and to create effective and clear communication. In my work with couples, I encourage each person to look at their individual behavior and see what changes each one can make to help the relationship
Therapy with teens is a process of understanding their world and what problems and issues they are facing in their lives. I explain very clearly that I respect what an adolescent has to say and that all information is completely confidential unless he or she is a danger to themselves or others. I attempt to build a foundation of trust, understanding and truth with teens in a down to earth style.
“Adolescence is a time for experimenting, a testing ground. As adults,
we need to help them experiment in the least dangerous way possible,
and if we can do this we are doing a good job”
I talk with teens in a way that gets the point across without lecturing them. I answer all questions with facts honestly. I use appropriate humor to create a dialog and encourage interaction that shows them my respect. All these methods are combined to help them face and deal with the issues in their lives.
I have worked with individuals living with HIV and AIDS for over 25 years. In counseling, I use my humor and energy to create a lasting bond that builds a caring and trusting relationship.
“The key is Compassion”
I see my clients, with HIV and AIDS, each week in the comfort of their homes to insure that they are up to date on their medications, doctor appointments and to help them deal with any emotional issues that come up.
Small confidential groups are held on specialized issues, such as substance abuse, coping with illness, women’s issues and adolescents in crisis. The groups are facilitated to insure that everyone is heard and respected, that problems are worked on and resolved and that group members learn to help each other.
“Groups are facilitated in a supportive and non-judgmental environment”
In group psychotherapy, individuals find others dealing with similar issues. Together, we develop a support group where members discover ways to solve their issues in a positive and constructive manner.
Michelle cultivates mindfulness and meditation! Mindfulness group facilitation available upon request.