Psychodynamic therapy (also known simply as “talk therapy”) has roots in Freudian psychoanalysis, although it is typically shorter in duration and intensity. At the heart of psychodynamic therapy is the collaboration between therapist and client, and a belief that talking about our thoughts and feelings can bring relief. The “talk” in talk therapy allows us to explore our thoughts and emotions, identify recurring patterns, understand avoidance, and make sense of what we really want to get out of life. The aim of talk therapy is to bring the unconscious into consciousness and thereby find relief. Further benefits include the increased ability to express ourselves, enjoy healthier relationships, and experience a broader range of feelings.
Existential psychotherapy works by placing the therapeutic conversation within the larger frame of the human condition. Here, the focus is on subjective experience, individual responsibility, and personal meaning-making as a way to address those struggles that seem to be an inherent part of being human, such as feelings of isolation/emptiness, difficulty with decision-making, joylessness, or anxiety related to mortality & aging. Often, such existential concerns are the real issue underlying such common experiences as boredom, anxiety, compulsiveness, and addiction. By identifying these struggles in the therapy hour and addressing them directly, we can connect with a renewed sense of freedom, purpose, and a sense of what it means to be human.
Central to contemplative psychotherapy is the idea that our symptoms and problems become workable when we view them with curiosity and openness rather than with aggression: We are not bad because we suffer- rather, suffering is part of life. This view leads us to first develop self-compassion and acceptance and then insight into our humanity. The theoretical foundation of contemplative psychotherapy blends humanistic and psychodynamic western concepts with the 2,500 year old Buddhist tradition of examining and working with one’s own mind. Students of contemplative psychotherapy are required to investigate themselves and come to a depth of self-awareness and insight achieved primarily through sitting meditation practice, one’s own therapy, academic work, group process and meditation retreats. Mindfulness is a key feature of contemplative psychotherapy and is cultivated through body awareness, self-compassion, the identification of resistances and through the presence and support of a skilled therapist.
In individual therapy, our primary interest is in your development as a dynamic person. Our relationship is built on helping you verbalize and understand your world in words, giving you the opportunity to connect to parts of yourself that may be blocked, unknown, or undeveloped, the end result of this process is greater psychological strength. Psychological strength gives you the ability to feel free enough in your world so that you can develop more of your natural capacities, deepen relationships, explore creativity, and approach life with more flexibility and ease. Initially, when people enter therapy it may be difficult to say everything right away. It takes time to feel comfortable in a relationship with a therapist. We are trained to create a secure and warm space wherein you can begin to talk more freely, explore the obstacles to talking, and use what happens during our time to make sense of your larger world.
One of the most difficult paradoxes of modern times is that while we are wired for relationship, relationships can be very difficult. Culturally, we are not well set up for a realistic version of what relationships feel like, what they can offer us and how they can challenge us. Our version of romantic love often erodes the potential for actual intimacy, the capacity for which takes time, security, and practice to develop.
Our way of working with couples acknowledges the inherent conflicts between selfhood and partnership, security and eroticism, being understood and learning to understand. Most relationships, if given enough time, will offer opportunities for growth- and growth itself can be painful. It is a tender endeavor to get to know someone and have them know you. Couples therapy is a place where intense feelings can be contained, understood and translated into energy that can bring specific healing into your unique partnership. Some common issues that couples we work with present with are: infidelity, sexual concerns, transitioning into parenthood, mid-life fears, boredom, attachment wounds, healing separation, amiable divorce and polyamory.
CHILDREN & ADOLESCENTS
Young people are, by nature, vulnerable. The role of a parent or caregiver is to keep children safe and facilitate their overall growth and development. Sometimes, however, young people can experience distress that exceeds the ability of parents or caregivers to adequately contain.
When children struggle, they may act out, test limits, or employ other coping skills that result in negative attention and distress. Whether your child or teenager is having trouble at home, school, or socially – or all of the above – psychotherapy can be of benefit.
At Big Sky Mind, non-directive play therapy is our preferred therapeutic approach for emphasizing the spontaneous, subjective language of play as a younger person’s primary mode of self-expression. For older children and teenagers, we offer a modified form of talk therapy (one that balances confidentiality with parental consultation to help support the therapeutic process) to help make sense of the overwhelming thoughts and feelings that can accompany this stage of life.