It's all about connection
I have come to believe that life is all about connection, and that experiencing a fulfilled life is all about how we connect with ourselves, with other people, and with the world around us. This realization is based on my professional experience, as well as my own journey in life.
I have experienced seasons of life surrounded by friends, yet felt isolated. I have been in stable relationships, yet struggled to let my protective walls down enough to love, or be loved, as my true self. I have felt alienated from the person I wanted to be because I could not connect with my own feelings, needs, and values. I believe that all humans have experienced these broken connections. It is our ability to restore these broken relationships and effectively cultivate new, healthy ones that is central to alleviating emotional pain and thriving to our full potential. It is this hope that drives my work with couples, individuals, and groups.
My career thus far has spanned many eclectic and challenging roles. As a young graduate, I worked at a community mental health center where I facilitated the day program for adults with severe and persistent mental illnesses. With the profound way that their illnesses affected their daily lives, I noted that consistent and trusting relationships were their refuge and the most therapeutic gift that I could offer.
I later worked with men and women who were experiencing homelessness and living with HIV/AIDS to help them acquire stable housing and live a healthy lifestyle. Again, the importance of trust, consistency, and a relationship of positive regard for each person was vital to helping them overcome social isolation and to maintain gains in their self care. Around the same time, I assisted refugees from Eritrea. For these refugees who had experienced hardship in their home country, the importance of connection in their new community was salient.
Over the past three years, my work with people experiencing substance use disorders has further convinced me that we are hardwired for social connection. Much of my work with those in recovery has been done in groups. I have discovered that group therapy is a microcosm of the real world. Given a safe and supportive environment, people whose relationships were previously mediated by their need for a psychoactive substance are able to learn new and rewarding ways of relating to one another and themselves through the group experience. The opposite of addiction is not just abstinence; it is healthy human connection.
Like with groups, providing couples therapy has further reinforced for me the importance of connection. What I have found is that partners entrenched in conflict often resort to being critical, defensive, or “shutting down” when their bond has been weakened with their partner or if they feel unable to soothe their own emotions during conflict. It is immensely rewarding to help couples re-connect, deepen their friendship, and create a sense of shared meaning.
No one is born socially adept. We all struggle. As I mentioned above, I have struggled with my own relationships in uncomfortable and sometimes painful ways. It is our capacity for growth that matters. It is every small insight that improves my ability to form authentic connections that has made my life one that I am excited to live.
What can you expect to experience when working with me? No matter what your need or goal, the most important part of therapy is the relationship between the therapist and client—the “therapeutic alliance.” I am committed to bringing empathy, compassion, and presence to each session, so that the connection we build can serve as a working model for other concerns and aspirations. Often, the first step in the therapeutic process is reconnecting with one’s values, feelings, and needs—and even an awareness of the present moment. I work with several therapeutic models which I match with the particular couple, individual, or group. I encourage you to explore my website to learn more about these models. You may also wish to look below to see more about my professional credentials, background, and affiliations.
When I'm not cultivating connections in my sessions, I'm passionate about experiencing connection in my own life, whether that’s spending time with my wife of seven years, my family or my friends, or spending time with hobbies I enjoy, such as hiking, cooking, playing piano, or composing haiku—all attempts to connect with the present moment as fully as possible.
I look forward to meeting you and discovering how our work together can make your life more wonderful.