Training to be a psychologist in the San Francisco Bay Area afforded me experience with people differing in age, class, race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and privilege. This added a vital complexity to my understanding of psychotherapy and mental health. I was trained to listen, not label. I was asked to understand, not fix. This means that first and foremost I strive to be aware of my own assumptions and biases so I can see each person for who they are.

I learned about the complicated interplay between nature and nurture and the equal respect these influences deserve. I see things through a relational framework, which means that I believe attachment and relationships are the foothold and matrix of the developing self. This framework, known as psychodynamic, also posits that beliefs and thoughts out of awareness are influencing and shaping experience. In this model, the therapeutic relationship is seen as a source of information and also as a vessel for change. Together the client and therapist can begin to see the client’s relational patterns and implicit beliefs as they manifest in the room. This work relies on emotional attunement, which is the bedrock of knowing what one feels and what to do about it. The focus of therapy is on the here and now, encouraging present moment awareness and attention towards both intra and inter personal experience.

Despite the complexity of psychodynamic thought it has been fairly criticized for overlooking the role of the body. The body-mind connection has become a burgeoning field of research, and has led to more mainstream acceptance of somatically based therapies, which situate the body as a focal point of treatment and healing. This pointed me towards somatic and mindfulness based approaches such as Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Internal Family Systems. These models offer specific and effective techniques for working with the whole body-mind system, particularly with trauma, while still valuing the role of meaning and insight. They also rely on mindfulness, which is another axis of my approach.