As a psychotherapist, my work is informed by many theories of human functioning. I learn from many different views, and take what I have observed to be most helpful to people, and especially to CASIGYs™ in their quest for healing from life’s hurts and better ways of living. Recent developments in neuro-biology, brain science, quantum mechanics, quantum physics, chaos theory and other sciences also inform my work. The field of Gifted Education has many contributions to make. Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration dovetails with many of the other psychological theories delineated below.
JUNGIAN/ANALYTICAL PSYCHOLOGY: One premise of this approach is that mind, body, soul and spirit are connected. I find this very important in my work with people. It is my observation that emotional growth and spiritual growth occur together, and that these may, but do not necessarily correlate with religious activity or involvement. Another premise of this approach is that myth and story are valuable in helping us learn what is missing and how to supply that in our lives. The concept of the Shadow is important in helping us deal with the less desirable aspects of ourselves, as well as in discovering previously unknown benefits, skills and attributes. A key self-development tool and skill in Jungian psychology is Active Imagination, which many of my clients find very helpful.
BIO-PSYCHO-SOCIAL MODEL: This is an approach that recognizes the interconnections between the mind, body, soul and spirit which includes emotions and interpersonal relationships. When there are symptoms in one area, all areas are likely to be involved or affected in some way. Therefore, it is important to attend to all areas when there are problems in any one of these areas.
INTERPERSONAL THEORY: This theory suggests that one of the most important things in psychotherapy is the working alliance between the persons involved. It is important for this working alliance to develop, and for the therapist to work with consistency, honesty, and integrity. It is also important for the therapist to respect the client’s values and goals for her or his life.
CRISIS INTERVENTION THEORY: It is not unusual that a crisis is the impetus for a person seeking counseling or psychotherapy. The first thing to be dealt with is that crisis. Often in a crisis, people discover that some of the ways they previously coped no longer are working for them. It is important to identify what these coping mechanisms that no longer work are, and to learn better ways of coping that will serve the person better now and in the future. A goal of Crisis Intervention is to help the person leave psychotherapy having regained at least the same, and ideally, a higher level of functioning than was present before the crisis.
DEVELOPMENTAL THEORIES: I work from a developmental perspective. This means that I believe that there are building blocks we all need at different stages of life. If a particular building block is missing or damaged, it will have an effect in adult life. It is often important to identify what developmental tasks were or were not completed in gaining an understanding of what doesn’t work, and what needs to be done to fill in the gaps. Adult life also has a normal developmental process as well, and this can be important in understanding the issues a person is dealing with at any given time. Developmental understanding is also important in marriage, as I believe that each marriage has a normal developmental sequence as well. A good understanding of child development is also important for parenting, as well. Developmental theories includes theories of normal aging.
GRIEF AND LOSS: Grief and loss are issues and themes that run through all of the work I have done and still do. Life is full of losses; how we deal with loss is central to how we cope with any adverse situation in our lives. I take a normalizing, supportive, psycho-educational approach to loss, grief, and mourning.
ADLERIAN THEORY: Alfred Adler was one of the first who recognized the importance of a person’s need for significance. He paved the way for several others who have applied his theories in beneficial ways. Victor Frankl has some important work on the importance of meaning in a person’s life. One way to summarize his work is to say that he discovered that “If a person has a ‘why’, the ‘how’ doesn’t matter so much.” Therefore, I believe it can be important for a person to discover their purpose, their mission, so to speak, and what meaning their present suffering has in that context.
Adler is also the precursor to SELF-IMAGE PSYCHOLOGY. This tells us that we live our life according to our self-image, and informs us about what the self-image is, how it is formed, and how to change it if it is not what we would like it to be.
In addition, Adler’s work is also the basis for DREIKURS and CLINE AND FAY in their works on parenting. Some basic principles in these approaches help parents identify who is responsible for what in a family; what is the purpose of a child’s behavior and therefore how to respond appropriately and effectively to it; how to discipline using both love and logic, with natural or logical consequences instead of punishment; and how to help children
about cause and effect, which helps them learn observation, thinking and decision-making skills, thus preparing them for responsible adulthood.
TRANSACTIONAL ANALYSIS can be very helpful in identifying early decisions that were made about one’s value in relation to others, and about the “scripts” we write for our lives. It can also be very helpful in learning to identify and modify our internal and interpersonal functioning, in its work with Ego States. This can be very useful in helping us to improve our lives by making new decisions, writing new scripts, and learning how to make Ego State shifts.
GESTALT THERAPY can be very helpful in helping a person learn how to become aware of, identify emotional states, and process these feelings effectively.
RATIONAL EMOTIVE and COGNITIVE/BEHAVIORAL THERAPY: This theory comes from the premise that our thoughts, emotions and behaviors are inter-related, and that if we don’t like how we are feeling or acting, we can make changes in how we think, and this will have an effect on both behavior and feelings. Often, it is also effective to make a change in behavior, and that will have an effect on feelings or emotions.
CHANGE THEORY: Change is a predictable process, with predictable steps and pitfalls, or challenges. It is helpful for anyone who is wanting to make changes in his or her life to understand the process of change.
SYSTEMS AND FAMILY SYSTEMS THEORY: These theories start with the premise that an individual always lives and functions in relationship to other people and institutions in society. Therefore, to understand and help the individual, one must understand the system(s) in which this person functions. Also, it would follow that to help a person make desired changes in his or her life, these changes need to be considered in the context of these systems.