What therapy approach(es) do you utilize? What issues do you specify treatment for?
The therapeutic modality that I utilize is a Rogerian/Humanistic approach—specifically that of unconditional, positive regard and active listening—which means that I will be working hard to understand where my Clients are coming from without being judgmental. This unconditional positive regard is present during each subsequent meeting as well. Each person is invited to move through the process at their own pace, with some folks needing more time to get to the core issues and others ready to dive in sooner. Once the issues that need to be addressed are brought to the surface, they are treated through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Narrative Therapy techniques specific to the Client’s situation.
Essentially, I provide client-centered, strength-based counseling to individuals, couples and adolescents for issues related to substance abuse, anxiety, career, and relationships, as well as gambling and sexual addictions.
How does one know if therapy is right for them?
Studies have shown that no one therapeutic modality is superior to another; rather, clinicians themselves ultimately determine whether treatment will prove effective. It’s not about the model you’re using; it’s the relationship between the therapist and the Client. Therefore, the main consideration when deciding on therapy is the relationship between the counselor and Client. If a Client is not comfortable with the counselor their working with, the work is that much harder.
What can one expect to gain from therapy?
Each of us develops psychological schemas that teach us how to interact with people and the world. When we grow accustomed to a certain pattern of behavior we look to repeat it, even after it’s outlived its usefulness. Addiction, for instance, is simply a maladaptive coping skill that worked at one time and does no longer. Unfortunately, these schemas are often “hard-wired” and very difficult to change. That’s the struggle and that’s where therapy comes in. My Clients and I work together to get past their unconscious defenses to recognize the need for change.
Ultimately, I look to my clients to be the experts of themselves, which guides the therapy where it needs to go, with the goal of insight and that insight as a catalyst for change.
What is unique about you as a therapist?
With a background in English literature as well as Psychology, I am unique in that I bring a decidedly postmodern perspective to my therapeutic approach. One of these concepts is known as Narrative Therapy. The use of this technique encourages and compassionately challenges people to be mindful of the story they’re telling themselves to better utilize their strengths. The words we choose to use can help manifest the changes we hope to bring about. The idea is to encourage the use of more positive words as opposed to negative words. This personalized approach has proven remarkably effective in helping people confront the challenges of their lives to bring about lasting and meaningful change.
I take satisfaction from watching people become who they can be. There is something special about that moment when a person realizes that they’re more than who they thought they were. If each person can achieve balance and make their little corner of the world a little bit nicer and a little safer, it becomes positive for everyone.
What relationship exists between mental health and substance abuse?
As already stated, each of us develops psychological schemas that teach us how to interact with people and the world. When we grow accustomed to a certain pattern of behavior, however, we look to repeat it, even after it’s outlived its usefulness. Addiction is simply a maladaptive coping skill that worked at one time and does no longer. Oftentimes, there is an underlying untreated disorder such as anxiety, depression or other trauma-related issues that have never been addressed. Once the substance abuse is addressed, it is important that the Counselor be prepared to help their Clients with these underlying issues as they surface. Basically, the substance (or behavior) was the means for dealing with this underlying issue. Once that means for coping is gone (the substance) we need to be able to support our clients until better coping skills are developed. May people mistakenly think that just by stopping the drug of choice, life will be easy, but that is often not the case, and counselors need to know that dealing with the addiction is only the first step to meaningful change.
William James Dougherty is the Owner of Lehigh Counseling Services and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Easton, PA. For more information, please call (610) 762-2428
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