Individual Psychotherapy / Counseling
Individual Therapy Issues: Chronic Pain | Cancer, Chronic Illness & Disability | Depression | Obsessive-Compulsive Issues | Grief | Relationship/Family Issues | Support/Guidance | Anxiety (Specific/General) | Academic/Work Issues
Many individuals come to work with me in therapy to resolve issues that are best handled one-on-one. The above list is not comprehensive but does touch on the most common issues I see individuals facing. About half of my work each week is with individuals and helping bring understanding, guidance, and healing to achieve a better sense of personal peace, competence, and self-worth. Many individual who work with me are surprised by the end of their therapy about how much change they are able to make in their own lives simply by focusing on themselves and spending less energy on the actions done by others.
There are some patients, however, who come to individual therapy even though they would prefer to work with me in some type of couple or family therapy format. Sometimes, the very people we have issues with are unwilling to come to therapy with us. There are many reasons for this, but is all boils down to the same thing: we often need the other person to change for us to feel better. If we find that those individuals connected to us need to change but won't, there is still hope through our own individual therapy.
When this is true and we encounter resistance about therapy with a loved one, friend, co-worker, etc., the best route to take is one of personal honesty. We must be honest with ourselves that we are the only one willing to change at the present moment, and as such the best option to consider for moving forward is individual therapy, at least until the other person is in the right place to participate in therapy. I often encourage people who call me for couple/marital therapy to attend individually when it appears that his or her partner is not invested in personal change through therapy or other means.
Some of my best work is done with individuals, because it is sometimes easiest to make changes when an individual has his or her own space to consider all of his or her own feelings and options for action. The following quote from Terry Hargrave's 2011 book Restoration Therapy makes this point most clear:
"I cannot guarantee that the person who I wanted to change will change in the exact ways that I wanted, but change on my part necessitates some type of change among the individuals who are systemically connected with me."
In summary, although I believe therapy sometimes moves more quickly when multiple family members (or both spouses/partners of a couple) are in the therapy room at the same time, it is often true that many of us who could benefit from therapy are connected to people who simply will not attend therapy with us. Rather than wait for the other person to become ready or try to force or push him or her into also attending, we may find the most helpful thing to do is to decide to commit to coming alone. This is the most fruitful potential option for many of us. As an individual, we can focus on making whatever changes are possible on our own and even recovering from the pain we feel in our own relationships. And there is great hope for change for those of us who do come to therapy on our own.