What makes your practice special when compared with others in the area?
My work as a therapist is founded in an axiom that I believe applies to all human relationships (and perhaps even brief encounters): Whenever two (or more) human beings with open hearts occupy the same proximate space, some form of mutually nourishing, healing and/or transformative exchange will take place. From this perspective, our job together is thus to say whatever needs to be said and do whatever needs to be done in order to maintain (or re-establish) an open-hearted connection with ourselves and with each other. I have learned over and over (though I still often forget!) that if this fundamental condition is met, healing and evolution arise quite naturally (and often powerfully) without any further “effort” from us -- often in ways we could never have predicted, much less controlled. For me, the “effort” of psychotherapy is usually more in the work that is often necessary to deconstruct our conditioned, fear-based – and usually quite unconscious and automated -- ways of perceiving and relating to ourselves and each other that we first constructed in an effort to adapt to the circumstances and emotional dynamics of our early life. Said another way, one of our primary tasks in psychotherapy is to dismantle the “fortresses” we have built to protect ourselves -- but that have now become our prisons. From this perspective, I see my job as establishing a sanctum (both in the specific time and place of our meetings, as well as in the larger context of our relationship) for you to feel safe and free – and perhaps even encouraged and/or challenged -- to discover yourself and just plain be yourself in relationship with another human being (i.e., me).
What are you and your team proud of at your practice?
This may sound a bit strange, but if I am “proud” of anything as a psychotherapist, it is exactly my refusal to pretend to be more enlightened or knowledgeable or competent than I actually am at any given moment. My current best “irreducible” definition of psychotherapy is: "A collaborative and intentional relationship aimed primarily at reducing suffering (by catalyzing healing and evolution) in the person called the “client." Thus I see therapy as a relationship between equals: as therapist and client we are of course playing different roles — but that does not imply any kind of “hierarchy,” or suggest that I deserve any more “respect” than you do. One other thing comes to mind that distinguishes my practice from many others: I ongoingly challenge myself and my clients to QUESTION the (especially unspoken) assumptions, “rules,” and belief systems we have inherited from our culture (as well as from our families of origin). Collectively, I refer to these otherwise unquestioned assumptions and beliefs as our “cultural trance” — and I see many aspects of this trance as greatly contributing to our suffering as human beings (e.g., the idea that “punishment” is a necessary and useful response to behavior that arises out of ignorance, or that “happiness” has anything to do with any particular set of circumstances).