Individual Therapy

Asking for help takes tremendous courage. It can be incredibly difficult to admit that something feels overwhelming or uncomfortable, and that you do not know what to do to change it, or that you do not completely understand it or have control over it. Taking the step to talk with a psychotherapist about your experiences, thoughts, and feelings can help you achieve significant changes in many important areas in your life. You can begin to deepen your understanding of your feelings, making them more bearable. You may also develop new options for how you respond to yourself and to others that feel more comfortable or may work better for you and the people that you care about. Once you decide to take that step, talking with an understanding and skilled therapist often leads to feeling less overwhelmed and more in control, feeling less alone, and feeling more hopeful about your present and your future.

Individual Therapy

I am an experienced therapist in Portland, OR, with a warm, empathic, and compassionate approach to psychotherapy. I listen closely and thoughtfully to your experiences, thoughts, and feelings. and develop impressions of my own to share with you. A consultation together may lead to short-term goal-oriented therapy, or develop into deeper psychotherapy work that leads to long-lasting change and growth.

I work with people to address a wide range of challenges, struggles, and/or suffering. This may include individuals experiencing intense and powerful problems or those experiencing problems they view as more minor. I also work with people who seek out psychotherapy to more fully realize their potential and to better understand themselves and their relationships with others. Psychotherapy can lead to profound changes – in feeling more connected to yourself and others, in expanded creativity, and in developing a greater sense of choice in how you live your life.

This short film, developed by Garrick Duckler, LMFT, PhD, is a wonderful and inviting discussion of some of the concepts mentioned above, and more.

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

“[Psychoanalysis] is essentially a cure through love.”
– Freud, to Jung, in a letter (1906).

There are several central aspects to psychoanalytic therapy that remain fundamentally important to me and how I engage in the work of therapy:

  • We have experiences, thoughts, feelings, behaviors, drives, motivations, images of self, and ways we relate to other people that are outside of our conscious awareness.
  • What we may consider problems, issues, or disorders, can more accurately be understood as formerly adaptive solutions to situations that benefit us in some ways, but may also hinder or hurt us in other ways.
  • What we think of as symptoms are ways in which we are managing a deeper conflict.
  • Humans are social, related creatures that seek others and connectivity.

Psychoanalytic Therapy distinguishes itself from other forms of therapy in several areas of foci:

  1. A focus on affect and the expression of emotions. “The therapist helps the patient describe and put words to feelings, including contradictory feelings, feelings that are troubling or threatening, and feelings that the patient may not initially be able to recognize or acknowledge” (Shedler, 2010, p. 99).
  2. Exploration of attempts to avoid distressing thoughts and feelings. We frequently do “things knowingly and unknowingly to avoid aspects of experience that are troubling” (p. 99).
  3. Identification of recurring themes and patterns. Therapy seeks to identify, observe, and understand themes and patterns in our lives, which often manifest as ways of dealing with distressing thoughts and feelings.
  4. Discussion of past experience – a developmental focus. Identifying patterns and themes often leads to an exploration of early experiences and “the ways in which the past tends to ‘live on’ in the present” (p. 99). This focus is not on the past for its own sake, but rather on how the past illuminates current issues.
  5. Focus on interpersonal relationships. Our relationships are enormously complex. They are often informed by early models of relationships in our lives in which we may develop patterns of relating to others which once helped and served us well, but may no longer. Past relationships and patterns clarify the present, and vice versa.
  6. Focus on the therapy relationship. Therapy provides a unique opportunity in vivo to explore and rework patterns in relationships that are not always within our conscious awareness.
  7. Exploration of fantasy life. The psychoanalytic therapist uses a less structured approach than other therapists, in which patients are encouraged to speak freely about whatever is on their minds. These thoughts naturally range over many areas of mental life, including desires, fears, fantasies, dreams, daydreams, and more. These parts of our life are important and reveal aspects of who we are and how we experience the world and others.

The Effectiveness of Psycho[analytic] Therapy – Jonathan Shedler