Do you need someone compassionate to help you through the challenging issues of your life?
Steve Harris, PhD
Psychologist & Psychotherapy
Individual & Relational Therapy
Steve Harris, PhD
Psychologist & Psychotherapy
Individual & Relational Therapy
Sometimes people come for therapy with their focus upon a single diagnosis. While this might be helpful, it is very important to realize that a diagnosis does not tell us much about the person, why the are feeling the way they do, or their relationships. The following are examples of these special issues or diagnoses and a brief idea of the importance to adjustment, relationships and other life issues:
Anxiety. Whether needing to control things or feeling completely out control, anxiety can be so debilitating. This can make it very difficult to relax and enjoy another's presence. Anxiety's symptoms, however, often clue us into what needs to change. Learning to participate in life, work, and relationships can be a very significant way to reduce and manage anxiety. Although relationships can be the source of anxiety, the experience of a real, affirming and therefore positive therapeutic relationship can go a long way to improving anxiety symptoms.
Depression. The causes and meanings of different kinds of depression are many. When it comes to relationships, loss (long term or current), the threat of loss can be a part of the picture. Some relationships are not attainable adding to feelings of futility and can result in depression. The more we are able to be in relationships and find them gratifying, depression can begin to lift. Sometimes we think that one must be over depression to have relationships. I have found that this is only partly true. Starting a relationship can alleviate depression in some cases. Being open to relationships signals that we are able to feel more alive again. Also, some depressions and their symptoms can teach us many things about what is needed to begin to feel better. For instance, we can learn we need to grieve something before the depression can lift.
Complex PTSD. PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, sometimes called Borderline Personality Disorder when it becomes long term or lifelong, ranges in its symptoms and struggles, shares the similarity of varying levels of trauma in its origins. When it comes to relationships, exploitative, abusive, neglectful and other negative experiences in relationships, especially when sustained over time, can make even the most basic experiences of trust nearly impossible. Protective defenses against further trauma can make give-and-take, trusting relationships very challenging. A a safe, trusting, patient, and understanding therapy relationship is necessary to begin to experience a mutually beneficial relationship.
Autistic Spectrum. Autistic individuals can struggle to experience mutuality within relations, which many people see as something to just accept. With behavior therapy being the primary focus with autistic spectrum disorders, relationships may not be what people associate with as a primary emphasis for therapy. In my experience, the ability to learn to develop basic relationship skills in therapy and becoming able tolerate increased levels of basic emotional frustrations that all people go through, can play a significant role in adjustment and the emotional regulation of individuals who struggle with autistic spectrum related symptoms. Improvement with emotional regulation in relationships, and when possible, developing levels of awareness of others (e.g., empathy) can enable autistic individuals to work at becoming more flexible can have potentially far-ranging effects on the adaptation to school, work, and at times, more independence for autistic-related problems.
Bipolar. One of the most significant challenges for individuals with bipolar symptoms is learning to adjust to middle-ground levels of expectations and functioning. Often the fear of slowing down can be a fear of letting others down or disappointing them. Instead of facing the challenge of acknowledging limitations, which can be experienced as crushing, keeping up the pace, and staying in constant motion assists the individual in feeling a commanding unconquerable position which eventually becomes unsustainable. Learning to accept one's limitations, finding a way with overwhelming emotions and having more ways to cope with these experiences can go a long way to limit and/or diminish the chances of manic/hypo-manic episodes. Although potentially problematic, along with the many other complex matters with bipolar conditions, a strong therapeutic bond can facilitate and accelerate emotional growth in more realistic ways.
ADHD/ADD. I have often thought that attention deficit is a misnomer. I think it involves an "attention surplus!" Individuals with ADD related challenges struggle to focus, usually because they are attending to too many things at once, and at too fast a pace to participate in a relationship in a deeper and meaningful ways. Psychotherapy with ADD is learning to have a relationship that slowly increases tolerance to taking things slower, developing ways to be able to process emotions, keep thought processes connected with the present context, and together with someone, in order to have more meaningful relationships.
Sexuality. Although this category is quite broad to include sexual preferences, identity, fetishes, and other sources of both anxiety and gratifications (or both), approaching a meaningful conversation about these matters can require significant levels of safety, understanding, empathy, and other important responses requiring sensitivity and compassion to work towards desired goals that address comfort, adjustment, and satisfaction with sexuality in relationships. Coming to terms with the desires, needs, and knowledge of one's particular sexual issues is important to understand within a relationship as well as with the context of relationships in general. The psychology of sexuality is for understanding the varieties of sexual experiencing, not a moralizing stance or drawing rigid lines of "normal" and "abnormal," which becomes ways that stop far short of, and closes the door to meaningful dialogues towards understanding sexuality.
Addictions. In the context of relationships, addictions often substitute for having a mutually gratifying relationship, be it spiritual or human. Some addicted individuals have given up on relationships and it can require the re-learning of how relationships might have anything in store for them. Though no substitute for 12-step programs, therapy can be a helpful addition to the treatment of an individual seeking to address the deep emotional issues that may need to be focused further upon.
I will be glad to meet with you to sort out any of these complex matters and implement a plan of action with you!
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DISCLAIMER: Any materials and related content included in this website is provided as a service to the community and for informational purposes only. This website is not meant to provide answers to questions, nor is it meant to serve as a substitute for psychological advice. Steve Harris, Ph.D., makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein.