Experiencing and understanding your feelings of anger can help you better regulate your emotions and express yourself more constructively, increase creativity and assertiveness, and allow you to be more in charge of your life.
In growing up and becoming socialized, we often learn to distrust, withhold, or ignore our anger. For example, if we are continually discouraged or shamed when we experience anger, we can develop a phobia about it. As a result, we may overly inhibit anger, negating energy that could help us assert ourselves, set limits with others, and define who we are and how we want to live. If those around us express anger impulsively and explosively, we may either learn to avoid the feeling altogether or imitate unproductive ways of expressing anger.
Inability to experience and express anger constructively can harm our ability to manage relationships and carve our way in the world. An explosive temper that seems to come out of nowhere hurts us at work and at home. Chronically repressing anger can lead to underperformance at school and work, shyness or social phobias, self doubt, insecurity, and stress-related headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, or unexplained body pain.
Using a combination of ISTDP and mindfulness-based approaches, I will help you to reduce “affect phobia” — fear of expressing anger and other emotions. You will learn to experience and express your anger and other feelings in ways that help you achieve your goals and improve your relationships.
For some people, anxiety is a chronic state they have lived with for much of their lives; for others, anxiety is episodic, occurring during periods of uncertainty. Your anxiety may manifest in the form of heart palpitations, sweaty hands, headaches, or an achy feeling in your gut. Or you may experience panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, or obsessions and compulsions.
Anxiety can be particularly powerful and visceral because it activates the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, affecting your heart, lungs, and digestive system.
While experiencing anxiety can be extremely uncomfortable and even disabling, it can also serve a positive function: preparing the body to respond to danger. Whatever threatens our relationships when we are young will create anxiety. Situations we encounter as adults that remind us of those earlier experiences cause us to feel that anxiety as if the childhood threat of loss were current. For example, if in childhood we learn that a parent perceives feelings such as anger or sadness as a threat, we will become anxious when we feel these emotions.
Sometimes we learn this explicitly from the ways we are rewarded for ignoring our feelings — for example, if we are told to be strong and push aside feelings of sadness when enduring a loss or traumatic event. However, more often we learn these things implicitly, through a thousand subtle interactions with our early caregivers. Because implicit learning is mostly unconscious, we later have no idea that an emotion inside of us is triggering our anxiety. Yet we carry bodily memories of these early experiences, and anxiety results when a current interaction reminds us of them.
In therapy, you will begin to understand the cause-and-effect relationship between your feelings and your anxiety. Anxiety is reduced as your body gradually learns not to react to these feelings with fears of rejection or abandonment. Returning the body’s natural threat-detection system to its proper function can help us regulate anxiety, freeing us to be more creative, spontaneous, and fully alive.
Identifying the root cause of depression is the first step in restoring your hope, self-esteem, and sense of purpose.
Anyone can experience depression. It can take many forms and have many causes. Depression can feel like an unbearable burden that depletes our motivation, saps our energy, and robs us of our vitality and self esteem. Sometimes we experience depression as a harsh judge subjecting us to guilt and self-recrimination. At other times we may feel the weight of unbearable sadness that seems to come out of nowhere. We may experience depression mostly as anger or irritability. We may even just want to escape from our lives or be left alone.
Certain junctions in our lives may leave us more vulnerable to depression. These include the more obvious transitions such as divorce, death, and loss of job or career. Sometimes a life event that is supposed to bring us joy —such as getting married or having a baby —can trigger depression.
Although depression may make no obvious sense at the outset, a skilled therapist can help you uncover the source of your pain. Uncovering the unique aspects of your depression involves a careful, methodical exploration of the triggering events and underlying emotional causes.
Symptoms of depression may include:
lack of libido or interest in sex
loss of appetite or increased appetite; significant weight gain or weight loss
decreased ability to function at work or school
guilt, self-criticism, and self-doubt
hopelessness or helplessness
increased sleep or sleep disturbance
lack of interest or pleasure
anger, irritability, or anxiety
difficulty making decisions
thoughts of suicide
Attention problems can be a result of biological factors such as ADHD or ADD, or a side effect of depression or anxiety. When you’re stressed or have a lot on your mind, it is hard to concentrate. You may have difficulty finishing projects or find yourself wandering from task to task; get bored easily; appear tuned out; or have a hard time knowing what you want. This lack of concentration can have a devastating effect on personal and professional relationships.
Understanding the source of your attention difficulties can be an important step on the road to regaining self-confidence and learning how to organize your thoughts and your time.
Even when there appears to be a biological component to your attention difficulties, learning to manage anxiety better can vastly improve your ability to concentrate and accomplish tasks. People with ADD and ADHD often suffer from accompanying self-esteem and depression issues as a result of chronic underperformance or criticism from others due to a condition that is beyond their control. Attention disorders are also some of the most commonly misdiagnosed syndromes. Often we find that people who come to us with a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD actually suffer from chronic, unregulated anxiety or depression, and can be treated successfully with ISTDP and mindfulness approaches.
I can help you improve many areas in your life that suffer along with attention by:
learning to regulate the emotional ups and downs that can disrupt your focus
improving your ability to be receptive to and read the emotional states of others
slowing down so you can digest your thoughts and feelings more fully
Following a comprehensive evaluation, I will discuss with you the approaches that would be most effective in improving your attention and organization. These could include ISTDP, mindfulness approaches, psychoeducation, and referral for medical consultation.
 ADHD = Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder; ADD = Attention Deficit Disorder