How Does Therapy Work?

Therapy can be short term crisis intervention, designed to get you through a difficult situation in your life, or a longer transformational process designed to meet deeper goals, so that you can break old patterns and make more satisfying choices for your life.

Therapy is a way of healing emotional wounds usually caused by childhood trauma. Most of us have these wounds because there is no such thing as perfect parenting. Even the best parenting cannot protect us from the difficult circumstances and challenges of life.  

How Therapy Begins

People usually enter therapy in crisis. Most of us are desperate by the time we seek therapy. We all prefer to think that we can do it alone, or figure it out, or seek the advice of friends. Actually this desperation and the anxiety you feel can work to your advantage. It gives you the drive and the courage to confront  feelings and look clearly at what is working and what is not working in your life.

Anxiety is a very useful tool. It is a signal that something inside wants to be known. It is a symptom, like a fever, that tells you something is happening in your life that you are not comfortable with. It is one of the body’s emergency signals. Anxiety can be quite a useful guide if you can be gentle and curious about it without being overwhelmed. Being in therapy gives you the support you need to face your anxiety and use it to your advantage.

Whether you come to therapy for a tune up or an overhaul, most of us seek professional help because something comes up that causes anxiety or depression. Together we will explore the factors that are making this time so difficult for you. We will look for action steps you can take to change the situation so that it is more suited to your true nature. Usually, anxiety and depression subside considerably within the first six to eight sessions.

You will feel relieved and anxiety will decline right from the moment you come to your first appointment. You are taking positive action to change the situation. Therapy feels good from the start because it is such a relief to have someone you can talk to who listens and understands what you are going through. It is also very important that therapy is completely confidential. This gives you a sense of safety and comfort in disclosing the truth. You will feel good because deep inside you will know that you are doing something constructive about your problems rather than ignoring your discomfort and unhappiness.

After this initial phase of therapy, usually lasting six to eight weeks, we will evaluate your situation, and discuss your needs in the light of the progress you have already made. If you decide you want to continue working with me we will explore your goals for the longer term, and what you feel needs to change in your life. We will discuss self-care and mental health tools you can use on your own, such as New World Meditation which you can learn as we continue our work together.

Focusing Oriented Psychotherapy

Research shows that people who learn to look inside to find out what’s right for them tend to be more successful in therapy. Focusing was developed by Eugene Gendlin, Ph.D., as a way of training people to make the most of the therapy experience. I have been teaching Focusing at conferences and workshops and writing about Focusing for over 20 years.

Focusing is a revolutionary way of bringing together the body knowing and the brain knowing for a truly advanced healing method. It teaches a way of working with feelings as they come into awareness from body sensing.

Focusing is a skill that you can learn which will speed your progress in therapy and eventually enables you to work through issues as they arise without a therapist. It is based in the Client Centered way of thinking; it honors the unique experience of each person. Focusing teaches you to find your own inner knowing. This inner wisdom will become your guide in making decisions. Focusing Oriented Psychotherapy (FOT) is an advanced and natural integration of the Focusing process into the therapy session. With FOT I will track your feeling process through the session so that you can more easily come to recognize and rely upon your own inner truth.


When it is indicated I use EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing in working with trauma that you may be carrying. It works in the brain to rapidly reprocess and discharge old stored traumatic memories. It is a form of accelerated information processing that works very well when it is integrated with individual psychotherapy.

The Three Stages of Therapy

If you decide to continue therapy to work on long term goals, you will naturally progress into a phase of rapid learning and growth that will probably last several months. This is followed by a longer middle stage of consolidation and gradual working through of issues. The consistency of the therapeutic relationship improves self-esteem and your ability to sustain intimate relationships. You may not realize it, but during this consolidation phase you are establishing habits of self- care and healing. Gradually you will develop a sense of safety and confidence in your own ability to guide your life.

In the final termination phase of therapy, things in your life seem to come together rapidly and you come to a feeling of satisfaction and increased peace. Decisions are made, and you may embark upon new ventures, or start new relationships. When this stage is reached it will seem clear to both of us that you have completed an important piece of work. Then there is a time for saying goodbye and letting go, at least for now. You may or may not return to work further with me at a later time. Maybe a time will come when you will seek help from another therapist. But for now you feel that you can fly on your own, and you no longer need weekly sessions. I usually recommend a gradual termination process.

The Self is infinite, and continues to expand as you grow in awareness. The Self has many layers. Together in therapy we peel off a layer, bringing it out into the light of understanding, awareness and compassion. Then amazingly, there’s another layer! You will come to face each newly revealed truth with more and more understanding and appreciating  your motivations and your needs. As you continue exploring yourself you will be relieved to find that there is nothing so terrible inside. As you cultivate a compassionate attitude toward yourself you will see that the journey of self-discovery goes on to become a rich and rewarding path all through your life.

You won’t continue seeing me or any other therapist forever. You can grow into being your own therapist over time, and with the help of mental health tools which you will learn in therapy. The most powerful of these tools is the practice of New World Meditation.