As a Psychologist, I’m influenced by several theoretical perspectives including existential, gestalt, cognitive, and psychodynamic. While these influence my practice, I find clients often struggle with one of the below themes. Such themes bring them to therapy and connect to their initial distress.
There are times in our lives where we recognize a need to go in a different direction — but struggle doing so. Examples include relationships, careers, or new responsibilities. Sometimes the feeling of being at a crossroads is more vague, less specific. It may be a nagging sense of being stuck, lacking joy, or wanting to go somewhere else (not knowing where or why). Other times, the crossroads are identified in our own lives by others. People we love who identify unhealthy or unproductive patterns, ways of thinking, or behaviors in need of change.
Core Existential Struggles
Influenced by existential writings, I believe that we are susceptible to big picture life struggles that may be beyond our everyday awareness – but impact us considerably. Our distress may be focused on something “small” but it’s actually related to something much bigger or a larger existential question. While often not the underlying reason for what brings us to therapy, these struggles are real.
Some of these include:
- Finding purpose and meaning in our lives
- Coping with loss
- Achieving true intimacy versus handling our own aloneness
- Dealing with life’s fragility and making the most of our time
Finally, influenced by a range of cognitive perspectives, I believe clients often enact rigid, unrealistic, and at times inflexible ways of thinking. These thinking styles impact their emotional lives, behaviors, and decision-making. Our unique and inflexible cognitive styles are often shaped by early experiences and family/societal messages. As Albert Ellis wrote, we have a unique way of creating what can be a upsetting, unhealthy internal self-talk. We also have preferences for life to be a certain way, that we express as needs. While it can be hard to change our thinking styles, being challenged about our thoughts that connect to our inner and outer worlds can be quite helpful.