I have created a web site that represents both who I am and how I approach my profession as a Licensed Clinical & Sports Psychologist.
Who I am and my philosophy on mental health and psychotherapy comes from a number of sources:
My time in the United States Marine Corps; undergraduate school at Florida State University (go ‘noles!); the superb training I received at the University of Tennessee and at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine where I trained with some of the finest minds in the field; my 43 years of clinical psychological practice–ten years in training, twenty years practicing in beautiful Vermont and the past twenty years here in Boca Raton; from four decades of being a father and then a grandfather; from studying healing rituals of the shamans while traveling through Central and South America and living in Guatemala; from my own long, arduous process of being in therapy; from living a long, healthy, fit, athletically competitive lifestyle; and from understanding and accepting that to be healthy in mind and body requires lifelong dedication and determination and discipline.
I believe each of us has both opportunity and obligation to ask the profound question, “Who am I, and why am I so unhappy?” Many people wait too long to ask this question and, then, only ask when they develop emotional problems that require psychological treatment and therapy. Sadly, most people never ask at all. To ask this question is to engage in a lifelong process of self-examination. Throughout my website, I have tried to highlight what I see to be many of the struggles and obstacles that we encounter along the way.
The maturational process–birth, infancy, childhood, preadolescence, adolescence–is filled with developmental hurdles that none of us successfully master. Be it deprivation in the environment, insufficient parenting, trauma, abuse, or an inability on our part to incorporate love and nurturance, we are all stunted by life. The process of coping and growing requires constant adaptation by a child. The coping style of the child then becomes the coping style of the adult. However, what worked in childhood is maladaptive in adulthood. We are unconscious to this process. We learn to not be aware of ourselves, to not pay attention to our deepest needs, our deepest truths.
Most people go through life unaware, out of touch, numb to themselves, living empty unfulfilled lives because they fail to ask the fundamental question, “Who am I, and why am I so unhappy?” This question, though simple to ask, is very difficult to answer. We must be willing to examine our family of origin and to look at our parents’ relationship as a couple. Were they loving, distant, hostile, detached? How did they manage the issues of intimacy? How did each parent relate to us? Were we reared as ‘special’? Were we perpetually criticized, never able to please?
The questions to ask are many. Most people entering psychotherapy initially say they come from a normal home life. As a person navigates through their defenses and deceptions to face their truths, they will be able to look at their life from the perspective of an adult, not that of an idealizing child. In doing so, one can come to see the dysfunction within the family. The purpose being not to lay blame on parents but rather to view them in a realistic light–that they were people with problems, some of which interfered with their capacity to lovingly and effectively parent.
The first step is to ask the question. The second step is to find a clinical psychologist who has the knowledge, capability and understanding to make answering our question possible. We cannot answer this question on our own, for we are far too capable of self-distraction and self-deception. This work of self-discovery must be done with a therapist who understands the unconscious–for what is buried within us, unknown to us, is both the source of our problems and the source of our enlightenment.
My assumption is that you are asking, and are beginning to seek the therapist you need to find the answers. Choose your therapist carefully, for like all walks of life, there are well trained mental health professionals, and there are poorly trained mental health professionals. There are mentally healthy professionals, and there are unhealthy ones; and, regrettably, there are therapists who have never been in treatment. It is doubtful that a therapist can be effective if they have not been through the process of therapy themselves.
My bias is clear. I think that a well trained Ph.D. clinical psychologist who practices a psychodynamic therapy, who is working with a lifetime approach and an appreciation and understanding of the unconscious, is the most competent and effective therapist available.
Appreciate that growth and maturity are processes that take time, patience and commitment. In asking the question, “Who am I, and why am I so unhappy?” know that there is hope in the very asking–for to ask is to seek, and to seek is to find.