I’m a nerd at heart. If you are too, below are the major theoretical constructs that I have incorporated over time in my professional evolution.
Marital & Family Therapy
Human beings inherently need others. We crave other humans to talk, love, and relate. We also need time to be alone to think and process. Finding a balance between both of these needs is a life-long process, made even more difficult when we encounter complications. Helping people with their significant relationships are the primary work of Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs).
MFTs differ from psychologists and psychiatrists, although they deal with similar issues and employ similar approaches.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in mental health and the chemistry of the brain. They are interested in how the physical brain and human body interact with thought, behavior, and emotions. Most psychiatrists do not provide much “talk therapy”. Their primary activity is assessing the need for medication and prescribing the correct medication.
A psychologist usually has a doctoral degree in psychology (in the US) and/or a master’s degree (in Australia). A psychologist has training in counseling and in research. Psychologists provide counseling and diagnostic testing. They are not able to prescribe medication.
A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist usually holds a master’s or doctoral degree and has completed 3,000 hours of clinical supervised hours post graduation, and is required to undergo their own individual psychotherapy. MFTs have less training in research methods and more in technique.
Systems theory is a foundation of MFT and focuses on the non-linear nature of relationships. MFTs articulate how people are mutually influencing each other, explore how people are getting their individual needs met, explore the mutual rewards/costs, and suggest alternatives.
See American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists.
Psychodynamic Theory and Human Development
Psychodynamic thought is concerned with how the arrangements of early relationships with our caregivers impacts the ways in which we, as adults, organize and experience current relationships with self and other. Special attention is paid to the client’s experiences with attachment, intimacy, risk taking, anxiety and/or depression in their present life, as well as their subjective experiences of childhood and adolescence.
Cultural studies represents a range of scholars in ethnography, communication and sociology who explore how our identity and subjective experiences are always contextualized by language and culture. Incorporating these theories, my role is to help clients become more aware of the interdependence of one’s internal experiences and the particular cultural surroundings in which they are embedded.
Evolutionary psychology, with roots in cognitive psychology and evolutionary biology, is a theoretical approach that attempts to explain useful mental and psychological traits-such as memory, perception, or language-as adaptations, i.e., as the functional products of natural selection. Theories regarding mate selection, expressions of anger, reproduction, and sexual desire are all of particular interest to my love/sex/trust work. See David Buss, Univ. of Texas
Mind-Body Approaches & Interests
Interpersonal Neurobiology and Mindfulness Meditation
Interpersonal Neurobiology is a mutli-disciplinary collection of research exploring the physiological aspects of emotional connections. Psychological integration and/or affect regulation are goals when applying these ideas to psychotherapy. Mindfulness meditation, guided imagery, art and music therapy are some techniques associated with this approach.
For more information, see below
Hakomi is a body centered approach to psychotherapy. The method works with the body’s structural and habitual patterns as a doorway to exploring unconscious material, including hidden core beliefs. The experiential method allows material to emerge safely into consciousness and helps the person integrate the material and achieve more contentment.
See Hakomi Institute
The main interests of PNI are the interactions between the nervous and immune systems and the relationships between mental processes and health. PNI studies, among other things, the physiological functioning of the neuroimmune system in health and disease. This research is of particular interest as it applies to issues with fertility, sexuality and chronic illness.
See the Psychology of Cells
or Candace Pert, Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind or Molecules of Emotion