I have been practicing psychotherapy since 2003, having earned my master's degree in psychology from Duquesne University. I earned my PsyD (doctor of psychology) in clinical psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2010. I have worked in a wide variety of settings over my 15+ years in the field, including private group practice, community mental health centers, hospitals, a residential facility and a cancer support center.
Originally from Pennsylvania, I now call Park Ridge home with my wife and two young children. My primary hobby is watching my kids grow by the second, but I also enjoy spending time along the forest preserve trails, sitting down with a good book, and streaming shows on Netflix. Every fall is a little extra fun when I can root on my Pittsburgh Steelers, too.
My View of Therapy
I view therapy as a matter of working through relationships. That includes the relationship between you and me, your relationships with other people, as well as your relationships with feelings, patterns of thinking, and life experiences. The children and teens I see often struggle with their relationships with parental divorce, friend making, self-esteem, attention and concentration, bullying, and acting out behaviors. With adults, it is often a matter of relationships with partners and children, long-standing patterns of behavior that are no longer effective, traumatic experiences, and overwhelming and exhausting circumstances.
I like viewing therapy in this way because it provides a framework for working with what we have available to us now, as opposed to focusing on how things "should" be. You may have noticed that simply trying to force ourselves to think, feel, or act differently does not always work. In fact, sometimes it even seems to make things worse. Recognizing the relationships you have with your goals and your barriers typically helps "put the cards on the table," so to speak. It may sound counterintuitive, but whatever it is that is troubling you is probably also doing something beneficial for you, or at least trying to do so. For example, many people have come to me saying they want to "get rid" of their anxiety, only to discover that they need some anxiety to make sure they pay attention to their surroundings and stay motivated to do their best in life. Instead, the act of improving their relationship with their ways of being anxious empowered them to differentiate between the beneficial and detrimental ways they did so.
My approach is also grounded in the belief that we are always changing, even when we feel stuck. We may not always be changing in the way we want, but we are changing nonetheless. This provides an opportunity: if we are always changing, every moment is a new choice to make within the limits that life throws us. It is a notion rooted in mindfulness and existential analysis, and it leads me to wonder what keeps us in patterns of feeling stuck. If we are to work together, I will invite you to approach that work through the following three overlapping tasks:
Understanding more clearly how it is that you are feeling stuck. I want to understand what the world is like through your or your child’s eyes as best I can. We all have unique experiences, and I will not assume that I know what you need based only on a set of symptoms or a diagnosis. Instead, I believe it is important to understand what is going well in your life as well as what is not. I have found that many people are able to figure out what they need simply from slowing down, being curious about their experiences without jumping to conclusions, and keeping sight of the context for everything they describe.
Exploring the possibilities you see in front of you and listening for others that might be hiding in plain sight. Having a clearer understanding of what you have been experiencing can help shed light on new options for how to think about or feel through your dilemmas. What it looks like to explore those options depends on how you relate to them. If you primarily think about what is troubling you, we might try to identify and challenge some of the assumptions you have made about your circumstances that have led you feel stuck in this way. If you tend to feel through your experiences, we would be more likely to start with some body-oriented exercises to let your feelings speak for themselves. These are both just starting points. One assumption that I will bring to the table is that establishing a balance between these points will help you be more self aware and more flexible in the face of stress.
Practicing those options that seem meaningful and rewarding to you, and then following through on helping you implement them in your life. It is vital that you feel in control of what you do or do not try out. That includes the right to not change anything. You may find that what brought you to seek support in the first place is more meaningful to you than you realized. If so, you will have my full support. If you still want to pursue change, we will work together to pursue your goal in a manner that feels safe and makes sense to you.