When I started practicing psychotherapy, psychoanalysis was the rage. I trained in Paris, wrote books and articles about it, and practiced it in Paris and New York.
I worked with my patients to uncover their patterns, to address their larger issues, to rummage through their emotional attics.
Often, to little avail. Truth be told, the enterprise often provided very little in the way of real help.
The more I wanted to look for root causes, the more my patients wanted to address everyday dilemmas. Once I started following their lead, I discovered that these problems were not a function of an unresolved childhood trauma, but were real difficulties that would have tested anyone's capacities.
People were not coming to me because they wanted to learn about their past. They had arrived at my office because they needed direction, guidance, focus, and even solutions.
My motto became: There may not be a real solution, but we should always act as though there is.
So I was pushed into becoming a life coach. Quite frankly, my patients insisted that I do more coaching and less therapy.
My goal today is to help people to manage their lives and relationships, whether with lovers, friends, spouses, or even colleagues and bosses.
I specialize in solutions that involve negotiation. When people find themselves in conflict, when they find that they are fighting too much, when they find that they are constantly at odds, I want to help them to find a middle ground where they can both feel that they have won.
I do not believe in the virtue of constructive fighting. Harmonious relationships do not need an endless cycle of fighting and making up.
My approach is very practical and reality-based. I have found that it more helpful to look at the problem, the dilemma, or the situation objectively-- to cast a cold eye, as it were-- and then to examine possible ways to manage it.
I will not always come up with the right answer, but most people find that reframing the question helps them to find their own solutions..
Do feelings enter into the picture? Absolutely. Yet, I do not attempt to see your emotions as the consequence of something that happened in the past. I see them as relevant to what is happening in the present.
Emotions are the mind’s way of trying to tell us something that we have not gotten around to working out for ourselves. Our task is to try to hear what they are trying to say.
I have outlined my approach in more detail on my website. And I have been running a blog, called Had Enough Therapy? where I have been offering notes and comments on coaching issues and other relevant questions.