Individual Adult Therapy
Untangle Life’s Snarls
Is pressure from work and family keeping you up at night?
Maybe your angry outbursts are causing rifts between loved ones and friends.
Life transitions can also throw us for a loop – empty nests, divorce, new jobs…
And grief and loss can cause unimaginable heartache.
Don’t let the snarls control your life – there’s a way forward to a more fulfilling life.
“My mortal enemy
Something I can’t see
Sneaks up inside of me
And takes me for a ride…
It takes my breath like a villain
It steals my heartbeat”
– Noëlle Hampton, “Like A Villain”
(written about her panic attacks)
Veronica* was glad she decided to sign up for short-term disability.
It was a smart hedge against accidents, right?
She had no idea at the time that what started out as mild anxiety around deadlines and work pressure would grow into full-blown panic attacks.
Or that those panic attacks would hijack her career – and her life.
Sundays were the worst.
Morning was ok, but as the day wore on, the anxiety grew.
Sometimes, it was related to a project or meeting that was imminent. Other times, it was just there.
A general feeling of worry, fear, doom; feeling like she was a bad person.
Logically, it was ridiculous.
Part of her knew that she was doing a great job at work, she was in decent shape financially, she had friends, a life.
Why was she so scared all the time?
But another part of her was in charge of the projection system inside her head.
It had a cache of movies of self-doubt, criticism, judgment, and catastrophe that – more and more – it played on a never-ending loop.
We got to know those parts — and many others.
Veronica learned to listen to herself with compassion.
She came to understand that her mind and body communicate with each other intimately and sometimes carry outdated or incorrect messages about how safe we are in our lives and in the moment.
Soon, she became centered enough to divert her panic attacks, and moved forward to help her anxiety relax and save its energy for times when it was really needed.
She returned to her career. She returned to her life.
“I was told I need to get counseling for my ‘anger issues’,” Jeremy* said to me, making air quotes and using a sarcastic tone.
“Who told you that?” I asked.
“My wife,” he replied. “And my boss. And my best friend. Pretty much everybody.”
“What do you think?”
“Well,” he said guardedly, “I do get mad a lot. But most of the time people are asking for it! I mean, you know how stupid and crazy Austin drivers are, right? And people at work are so irritating – my wife deliberately tries to make me mad, I just know it!”
He went on defensively, “But I’m not that guy! I don’t want to be Angry Guy!”
“I hear part of you notices some truth in what they’re saying, and you really don’t want to be Angry Guy. Another part of you feels wronged or attacked and you need to protect yourself from that. Does that sound right to you?”
“Yeah. That feels right. What do I do about that?” he asked.
We got curious about those parts.
It may not seem like it right now, but they have some important information about why you react the way you do and how they are trying to help you.
We can work together so you’ll respond instead of react when you get triggered.
Jeremy gave it a try. How about you?
It was a truly challenging and heart-wrenching situation.
Sonia* had been married to her husband for 26 years.
She had set aside her career to support him in his, and stayed home to manage their home and raise their two children.
They were happy enough.
Over the years, he climbed the corporate ladder and now traveled during most of the week.
She diligently kept up with all the kids’ stuff, and shouldered all the household chores.
It started with anxiety, then grew into unexplained pain in her body, migraines, then panic attacks.
A devastating childhood trauma was reactivated, making her hyper vigilant.
She couldn’t sleep at night.
She felt like she was going crazy.
Thoughts of suicide popped up on a frighteningly regular basis.
We worked together to address all the feelings that were swirling around and seemed to be taking her over.
To hear, witness, and heal her hurt.
To acknowledge that she was not happy in her marriage, but had a huge fear of her husband leaving her with no way to support herself.
Then her husband asked for a divorce.
Sonia felt like she had just gotten centered, and this knocked her back off track.
Her worst fears realized, her anxiety surged back.
We walked back though the lovely progress she made.
During reflection, Sonia realized she did not change the circumstances of her history – that was impossible.
What she changed was her relationship to her circumstances and her experience of them.
She began to see that she could do this in virtually every area of her life – even the dissolution of her marriage.
Instead of understanding this as a devastating ending, she came to see it as a life transition.
Unwelcome – as some life transitions are – but she was able to make the shift from feeling like a helpless victim of the change to someone who was being offered an opportunity to start fresh.
Instead of asking, “Why me?” in those harsh circumstances, Sonia asked “What can I control or create in this situation?”
And then, she did it.
She changed her relationship to her circumstances.
It was the best she had felt in a very long time.
Grief & Loss
“Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on”
– John Mark Hall, Matthew West, Bernie Herms, “Just Be Held”
Outwardly, the man sitting across from me in my office looked as if he had the world by the tail.
Well-groomed, good sense of humor, nice-sounding family, obviously intelligent and well-spoken – this successful entrepreneur had scheduled and rescheduled his appointment several times before we finally met for our first session.
When I observed we had about 20 minutes left, and he had not yet revealed why he was seeking therapy, he laughed again, “I’m not really sure. To hear myself talk. I don’t have any real problems. All is well with my family, my business is thriving, I have my health. But out of the blue, I find myself feeling really sad at times, and I’m starting to zone out a lot.”
“Mmmm. Is there anything you might have forgotten to mention, Gerald*?” I asked.
“Well, my Dad died, but that was a while back.”
“Gosh, it’s been almost a year, I guess. But that’s history. I should be over that by now, right?”
Grief is different for everyone.
There is no “right” length of time to grieve.
And a loss – especially like that of a parent – will never not be a loss.
But your relationship to the loss can change over time – the pain can heal.
Gerald’s face softened as tears welled up in his eyes.
“I know I’m supposed to be the strong one. I’ve helped my Mom with everything, kept up with things at work, stayed close with my family….”
He faltered, then cried, “I just really, really miss my Dad!”
“That’s right,” I said gently. “You miss your Dad. That’s a great place to start.”
Are you wondering if I am the right counselor for you?
Feeling comfortable, safe, and connected with your therapist is crucial to achieving your therapeutic goals.
You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for a counselor who focuses on relationships – with your partner, family, work, your body, your past, your higher power, and yourself.
You already have within you all the resources you need to untangle life’s snarls.
Move into living your life fully, and more authentically.
Call me today, and I’ll help you reconnect to those resources (512) 633-1994.
*not an actual client, but a compilation