Genuine Heart Counseling, LLC

My therapeutic approach

My approach is about connection and compassion.

It’s about empathy and a sense of joining together. I utilize my training in psychology, neuroscience and attachment to support my clients, but more than anything, it’s my experiences as a fellow human being that allow me to be most supportive.

I am open for questions, always

It is essential that this relationship feel safe for you, so understanding what I am doing is important. As well, I invite you to utilize this relationship as a way to explore new ways of relating to your world. Asking for what you need, establishing more overt boundaries, saying no and/or trusting in another person and saying yes may all be aspects of your journey that are worthy of investigation. Please know that I am open and inspired by this exploration.

I practice nervous system oriented, mindfulness-based, client-centered, experiential, Gestalt therapy within the framework of a transpersonal perspective.

Whew! What does that mean?!

A nervous system oriented approach helps clients understand their biology and how to strengthen their natural tendencies toward ease and contentment. Clients learn skills for calming their nervous system which help them to manage strong emotions, increase overall resilience, and reduce anxiety and depression.

Mindfulness is a key element of my therapeutic approach and a foundational component of transformation. (Please reference my pages on mindfulness).

Client-centered therapy values the healing potential of a caring, non-judgmental relationship where feelings are honored and respected. The relationship my clients and I create is the foundation of transformation. My style honors your inherent wisdom, and I work with you so that you can have a more intimate relationship with yourself. This requires vulnerability, from both of us, and a willingness to explore. Having someone there with us, during our painful moments and times of sorrow, anger, jealousy and judgment can remind us that even in these moments we are lovable and worthy of caring attention.  It is helpful to know we are not alone, in our suffering and our celebration.

Experiential therapy encourages present-centered attention. Gaining a ‘felt sense’ of one’s experiences, in the moment, provides a more holistic sense of the problem or unresolved situation. When I work with an individual (or family) I am not just looking at the symptoms and trying to ‘change’ them so the symptoms will go away. Often, the symptoms actually hold the keys for transformation. By being willing to explore these ‘symptoms’, one can often get information regarding the deeper needs or unexpressed, unresolved pains, and through awareness, transformation takes root naturally.

Gestalt therapy helps to uncover these hidden or fragmented aspects of ourselves in an effort to bring forth meaning, accountability and new perspective as well as a greater sense of agency and personal choice. As a natural consequence of being human and growing up in a particular family within a particular culture we all have parts of ourselves that we have understood to be more or less desirable. We create a sense of identity based on this, and as a result certain qualities of ourselves become ‘disowned’. Parts of us and certain needs and preferences we deem undesirable or inappropriate exist at the edges of our awareness or are completely unconscious. The ways we found for ‘coping’ with challenges and the disowning of certain traits are actually brilliant ways of taking care of ourselves. These decisions have also distanced us from our more authentic selves. Gestalt therapy assists clients in exploring these hidden ‘parts,’ needs, and impulses. Through this process a client begins recognizing the support these aspects provide for their lives, which naturally leads to a more integrated sense of self and an opportunity to begin expressing oneself in more honest and respectful ways.

A transpersonal framework means that my world-view and my approach to therapy is holding a bigger picture and I recognize our fundamental essence as human beings remains good, even though sometimes our choices don’t seem to reflect this. There is a natural tendency within us that propels us toward growth and our personal potential. Spirituality may be an aspect of this, but it is not limited to religion. In fact spirituality, per se, may never show up in the sessions. My view is that all aspects of our lives are spiritual in essence. It is the very ‘normal’ stuff in life that shows up in this framework. I have profound appreciation for the sacredness of experience: mine, yours, essentially everyone’s experience and all existence.

I also incorporate aspects of DBT, a form of therapy that teaches clients:

  • Mindfulness to gain awareness of patterns of behavior and triggers that often lead to distress
  • Distress tolerance to learn how to bear pain skillfully through acceptance of oneself and the situation to allow for more conscious decision making
  • Emotional regulation which includes identifying emotions, identifying obstacles to changing them and identifying the story that contributes to one’s interpretation. Emotional regulation also includes physical ways of supporting well-being and learning how to let go of emotional suffering
  • Interpersonal effectiveness which focuses on helping someone increase the chances of successful interpersonal encounters so that they can more likely get their needs met while also respecting the relationship and their personal integrity.

Aspects of Motivational Interviewing are often implemented to help clients explore and understand underlying ambivalence that is inherent in most decisions. Clients explore the risks as well as the benefits of continuing in a similar manner in their life versus making the potential change. This is a non-judgmental, non-confrontational approach to change that empowers the client as the agent of this change.

Synergetic Play Therapy utilizes the therapist’s ability for mindful awareness and authentic, present-experience reflections to help children gain awareness of their feelings, learn new options for handling situations and cultivate greater empathy as well as strengthen their relationship to self and others and increase their window of tolerance regarding strong emotions.

Or, just give me a call and we can talk about all this and see if I might be a good fit for you.