Before I was a therapist, I was a scientist. (See my education and research here.)
What fascinated me was, how is it people have such a hard time finding common ground when they disagree? Whether this applied to romantic partners, or people in politics, I wanted to know why it was so hard for people to come together and move forward. Was it as easy as one person convincing the other that they were wrong? Do you bombard the other person with facts? Do you try to compromise? Why is it, when it is so clear to you what the right thing is, can't the other person see it the same way? And it seemed this was at the root of so many negative feelings and outcomes in the world. I wanted to be a part of the solution.
It turned out, science didn't have such a good answer to this question. Sure, there were fragments of answers here and there, but no satisfying explanations. So for many years I tried to add to the scientific knowledge base in the area. I felt I made some good contributions. I became an expert in the ins-and-outs of how we think about others. Science moves at a glacial pace sometimes though.
After not finding academic life as satisfying as I initially did, I decided instead to follow my passion of helping people. Specifically, helping people navigate the complicated social situations we find ourselves in: relationships, marriages, and just balancing our needs with those of others we come in contact with. Now I help couples try to see each other in a different light, so they can move forward together and put conflicts behind them. (For more information, I also run the Tuscaloosa Couples Clinic.) I help individuals relate to all the others in their life in ways that hopefully reduce stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions. And I try to help people develop the skills to make their futures more enjoyable and satisfying.
It helps solve your problem more quickly when your therapist understands not only that doing certain things in therapy works, but why things work. It helps if your therapist understands not just that we sometimes view the world through a distorted lens, but deeply understands the mental processes that lead to certain unhelpful ways of viewing the world. It helps because it provides insights into how to effectively change the things you want to change!
For example, it helps if your therapist knows and can explain to you why and how encouraging you to spend more time with your spouse or partner will lead to more positive assumptions about them. It helps if your therapist understands why many people end up with the perception that the worst possible result always seems to happen to them, and that it’s actually not a character fault if you think this. How exactly do we end up with such negative views of the people we’re committed to, thought we loved, or thought loved us? If you understand the psychology of perceptions, attitudes, and attributions (that is, the conclusions we draw about other people and what’s going on inside their heads), it helps target the problems in a much clearer way.
To be clear and as straightforward as I can-- A lot of whether your therapy is successful comes down to a fit between your therapist and you. A therapist you feel comfortable with, feel valued by, and trust is one of the most powerful predictors of whether you will achieve the change you sense you need or want to see. But in addition, I am committed to maintaining the deepest level of scientific knowledge surrounding the inner workings of our thoughts, in a way that I think will ultimately help heal you and your relationships. That isn’t something that every therapist will promise you. (See list of published research)
But ultimately, I want you to feel like you’re in good hands. I hope that my clients feel safe when we talk, and that there is hope for them in overcoming their problems. That starts with a good personal relationship, someone that truly listens, and someone that genuinely cares for you. Please let me know if you’d like a chance to talk! Don’t be afraid to call and get a sense of who I am, and I hope that you’ll agree I can help you.
For even more on how I approach therapy, check out my blog.