I have been inspired by the strength and resilience of my clients. I have learned from their experiences and their individual paths to recovery and I believe that I am a better person and a better therapist for working with them.
Client Age Range: The youngest client in my practice so far was 14 and my oldest was 60. So many issues transcend age and socioeconomic circumstances. However, there are issues that are more typical of the challenging teenage years when so many things feel urgent and we are under the scrutiny of peers and feel judged at every turn. And there are issues specific to adult life stages, e.g. career and workplace stress, marital conflict, parenting, health and aging.
Military Members and Families: Having worked for the Department of National Defence for 15 years, being a military spouse and having deployed to Afghanistan for a five month tour as an intelligence analyst, I have a personal understanding of the experiences of military members, their spouses and families.
Childhood Trauma and Spousal Abuse: For many clients, remembrance of childhood trauma does not surface until later in life when an experience triggers a memory, or the vulnerability of a child or grandchild brings a memory to the surface. The trauma that is inflicted on the brains of children by sexual, verbal, physical or emotional abuse, has lasting impacts that are often present in adult clients and can be particularly challenging in relationships.
The following are some of the theorists and practitioners whose work I admire and use:
Trauma: John Briere, Anna Salter, Wendy Maltz, Ellen Bass and Laura Davis, and Judith Herman.
Military: Donald Meichenbaum
Generally: Bessel Van der Kolk; Martin Seligman, Victor Frankl.
There are a great many other authors whose work I read and draw from, but those are some of my favourites.
I use a three phase process for recovery from trauma and abuse: safety planning; trauma processing; and present/future oriented rebuilding. Therapy is not a straight trajectory, it is an upward spiral that sometimes requires backtracking and overlapping of past and present events.
Couples therapy should be a positive emotional experience, for both partners. If one deals only with conflict and the long-standing differences in a relationship, it leaves no room to identify strengths and areas of common purpose and common interests.
I am currently studying the Gottman Institute method of couples counselling www.gottman.com. I have completed Level 1 Training and am undertaking Level 2 Training with the goal of becoming a Certified Gottman Therapist.
The Gottman Method is a positive, proactive approach to helping couples find the strengths and challenges in their relationship. In this method, the relationship is assessed without bias for either partner's story and with each being given time to present their views and needs. The couple is given tools and techniques specific to their relationship needs to help re-establish a strong and loving bond.
The Gottman Method borrows from and collaborates with many prominent researchers and theorists in couples therapy, including Sue Johnson's Emotionally Focused Therapy, and other related areas of psychotherapy. It is based on decades of research into couples of all ages and stages of relationship from newly weds to couples with decades of partnership. It is also as applicable to same-sex partnerships as it is to heterosexuals unions. What matters most is addressing friendship, respect, affection, communication, and shared meaning and values.