“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart… love the questions… like locked rooms and books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live into the answer.”

—Rainer Maria Rilke

Individual Therapy

Take a moment and imagine a young boy or girl who is being abused. They are functional…kinda. They go to school. They participate in programs and get good grades. They have found a way to cope. They have friends that they’ve confided in, but because they are peers, there’s only so much help they can be. And because they are only a kid themselves, with no tools, there is only so far their under-developing coping mechanisms can take them. They begin to exhibit behaviors that can only be explained by the brokenness they are feeling and keeping to themselves. They are afraid to share with their parents because it’s the other parent doing the abusing. The fear of not being believed wins…but only momentarily. After watching a lifetime movie by accident about a young person in a similar situation, they muster the courage to finally tell. And, of course, their worst nightmare comes true. Not only are they not believed, but now they have been labeled as a liar and accused of trying to break up the family. It’s an ugly and vicious cycle of hurt. When it is all said and done, without intervention, all this kid, now an adult, learns is that reaching out for help only makes things worse. Individual therapy could have helped.

For some people, going to individual therapy has always had a negative connotation. Maybe you grew up in a family/culture that fostered the idea: “you don’t tell strangers any of your personal business.” Perhaps you feel shame about needing help because you were always taught that you needed to work out things on your own, and that to need help is a sign of weakness. Maybe the old adages about how therapists “shrink” your mind and control your thoughts has become a real concern for you.  You might possibly feel like you don’t have time, even though a part of you knows you really need it.  For any of the reasons listed and maybe a million more that weren’t, you have never given yourself permission to sit down and talk to a therapist. There’s no judgment. We get it. And as much as we get it, we can assure you that therapy is none of those things. But, let’s talk about what it is. 

Individual therapy is a conversation – a safe space for you to explore and work out internal conflict with a professional listener. But what does that really mean? What does it mean to be a safe space? Webster defines safe as something that is “secure from threat of danger, harm or loss.” Our aim is not to hurt you at all. We want you to be better. Keeping things, like secrets and pain, bottled up can make you sick over time. Our therapists and the walls of our offices are the secret keepers you never knew you needed (with the exception of the secrets that we can’t keep due to the limits of MD, DC confidentiality laws which make us mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect, and client risk of homocide or suicide).

Individual therapy is a place where people come to get help with dealing with whatever. We all need that at times. Whether it’s an issue related to identity, personal/professional development, self-worth, attachment…or just coping with LIFE! We could all use some help right now with just coping. If you are depressed or anxious, you are not alone. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the impact of trauma, isolated and alone because of COVID, struggling with life transitions, we can help. We know what it feels like to not feel heard. We understand the pain of not having your personal experiences validated. We are living in today’s America with you. We understand how hard it can be to just do the routine things everyday. We really do get it! And we get you. We do our best to get to the core of who our clients are so that we can help them improve their overall mental well-being. We have tools to help you get to a better, more mentally healthy you.

Many of our clients come to individual therapy to safely explore family of origin issues. These are the issues directly related to our first social group – our biological or adoptive families or blended family. Not everyone grew up in a house filled with love, acceptance and 24/7 fun like those we saw on television. Real life families are oftentimes the cause of many traumas and much drama on kids that wreak havoc in their lives as adults. They sometimes cause people to be overstressed and always burnt out in an attempt to be perfect for a romantic partner because perfectionism was an (unrealistic) requirement from one’s parents. That’s just one example. There are many others and we can help you explore them all.

“Your personal truth is your gift to the world.”

-Jennifer Elisabeth

There are four major styles of attachment that people form early in life and generally tend to keep into adulthood. They can all be explored in individual therapy and are as follows:

  • Secure.
  • Anxious-ambivalent.
  • Disorganised.
  • Avoidant1

Each of these four has a specific set of pros and cons. But maybe your attachment style isn’t faring well for you, and you need some tools to better manage your day to day activities and relationships. We get that and we can help. Helping is what individual therapy is all about.

Individual therapy is a place where you can come to learn more about yourself. Through open communication with our skilled therapists, we can help you to identify your feelings, learn the “why” behind some of your behavior and tolerance of certain negative behaviors from others. And most importantly, we help you get to know and become more familiar with various aspects of your personality that can drive much of what you experience daily, this coming from Internal Family Systems psychotherapy.

  • Your WHOLE self: the healthy part that feels compassion, is grounded and knows how to, both, give and receive love; the part that brings balance and harmony alone with certain non judgemental qualities (curiosity, caring, creativity, courage, calmness, connectedness, clarity, compassion, presence, persistence, perspective, playfulness)2
  • Your WOUNDED self(s): the parts of you that hurt and feel exile, the parts of us that have been shamed, dismissed, abused or neglected in childhood
  • Your MANAGER self(s): the part of you that is responsible for managing your day to day functions and strives toward preventing the exiled and hurt in us from re-experiencing emotional pain
  • Your FIREFIGHTER self: The part of you that extinguishes pain and overwhelming feeling (like disordered eating, abusing substances, addictions, self-harming behaviors)

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.”

-Nelson Mandela

Lastly, we are allies to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, and/or asexual identifying individuals. Whether you are in high school just beginning your life journey, or you are a working professional struggling with adulting…we are here for you!

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