Parents are usually spilling over with questions and, oftentimes, frustration and even hopelessness when they bring their young son or daughter into treatment. Their own stress tolerance and understanding of what’s going on have long since been exceeded. For the child, whether referred by a guidance counselor, pediatrician or even court, a young person in therapy is almost always skeptical or even fearful about sharing his or her inner world with an outsider.
Therapy aims to strengthen and augment the parents’ efforts at raising their child or adolescent, not replace it. Working together with the parent, our therapists establish themselves as a champion for their child and as a guide to aright their child’s development; they help to get it back on track. Whether through traditional play therapy, interactive therapy or talk therapy for the older child, the therapist becomes the young patient’s trusted advisor and faithful liaison for getting “back onto the same page” with his or her concerned parents.
Common symptom clusters: ADHD and Oppositional Behavior, Eating Disorders, Major Depression, Obsessiveness, Self-Harm
While late adolescence through early working life is a wide age range with many unique features of each sub-stage, the main challenge during this age range is balancing friendships or romantic relationships with personal aspirations. The desire to find a significant other or remain in close friend circles is sometimes at odds with an effort to launch oneself and find independence and self-direction. Sometimes a person experiences a lot of anxiety or depression around this time which makes it close to impossible to manage this balance.
Our therapists work hard at the outset to help the individual feel validated, respected and understood. Oftentimes it is a powerful experience for the individual to be in the presence of a new, objective third party (their therapist) and treated as an adult, not beholden to the person’s parental figures. Learning valuable life skills, developing coping mechanisms, and finding one’s path are also important parts of the work with the therapist.
Common symptom clusters: Substance use, Bipolar Depression, Psychosis, Eating Disorders, Panic, Violence and Suicidality
Clients in this age group are often finding themselves burnt out and overwhelmed. It seems the demands of life come fast and furious and there is no let-up. Whether it’s struggling to make ends meet with ever-increasing costs, dealing with difficult or very needful children, or finding oneself conflicted between the urge to “get-ahead” and the guilt of alienating one’s children, parents find themselves and their relationships stretched to the max. Arguments ignite without even striking a match. Single parents have their own sets of challenges from lack of adequate support and resources to crippling self-doubt and inability to make decisions for their family.
Sharing these struggles with an unbiased, compassionate and understanding therapist opens the door to finding solutions to everyday problems, paving a path to a better routine, or achieving insight into one’s blindspots, leading to a greater sense of control.
Common symptom clusters: Anxiety, Phobias, Post-partum and Bipolar Depression, Anger and Addiction, Emotional or Physical Abuse
When a client reaches middle age, there is oftentimes a “settling in” that has taken or is taking place. However, for many, that “settling” means giving up dreams and wishes. They may have lost connection with what was once meaningful and exciting in their lives. They may find their relationships with their partners growing stale. They might be struggling with physical changes and changes in their health which make them wonder where their youth went and if it’s still retrievable. Some clients may be burdened with family responsibility while others may experience profound loneliness as long-time friends move away or have other priorities.
Your therapist seeks to help you get in touch with your real self and reconnect with what matters. The work might be discussing whether and how to rebuild or strengthen your relationships. Or, the work might be focused on reconfiguring your goals and establishing better patterns in your life to help unstick yourself, releasing attachments to unhealthy addictions and relinquishing ties to unrealistic aspirations.
Common symptom clusters: Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Addictions, Infidelity
Clients in this age segment have unique challenges. Health, medicine, doctors, tests and procedures take center stage and can sometimes be overwhelming. Family-related concerns are also of utmost importance and often take precedence over one’s relationship with their significant other. The central challenge of this age is hope: to find a sense of peace and contentment, being satisfied in looking back on the bulk of one’s life, and yet also optimistic about what the next week holds. Struggling older clients may find themselves depressed over where time has gone or fearful about what lies ahead. Questions about retirement, financial resources, and longevity are also very important. Sickness, widowhood, or loneliness may contribute to what is already a very challenging situation.
A talented therapist, despite typically being younger than her client, will nonetheless be able to break through a client’s pessimism and establish a relationship of mutual respect and understanding. Always mindful of ongoing health concerns and a client’s physical limitations, the therapist aims to uncover the underlying reasons for a person’s despair and creatively and collaboratively build new avenues for meaning in a client’s life.
Common symptom clusters: Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Agoraphobia, Chronic Illness, Suicidality, Grief and Loss
People entering couples counseling are oftentimes looking for a way to change their partner. Either they feel their partner changed over time (for the worse) or they themselves have changed (for the better) and wish their partner would as well. In truth, what usually has occurred is a new context of life, usually stress, imposing itself on the couple which sometimes brings out different responses in different people. Dormant skills emerge or embarrassing habits re-emerge. The bottom line is that the couple wants and needs to find new ways of being together, as they perceive staying together as less daunting than splitting apart.
In couples counseling, we carefully tease out the various contributions of each partner into what is making the relationship intolerable, and collaboratively devise new ways the couple can reassemble itself, renegotiate the expectations one has of the other, and new ways each can express their fondness and affection for the other.