Issues of Special Interest . . .
Every therapist has certain topics or issues they are particularly well suited to help with. These might arise from their formal training, experience with a particular population, theoretical orientation, or life experience. Therapy is never a "one size fits all" proposition. Choose your therapist carefully. While I routinely treat such issues as depression and anxiety, the following are my areas of special interest.
Trauma in this sense means emotional injury due either to experiencing a single horrific event or an ongoing series of very upsetting events. Even witnessing something terrible can leave a person traumatized. Combat, natural disasters, being a victim of crime, and childhood abuse are the most common causes of emotional trauma.
If you suffer from flashbacks, nightmares, irritability and unexplained anger, fear, suspicion and other symptoms that interfere with functioning on the job and in relationships, you may have unresolved trauma.
When appropriate, I use Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) to help patients "digest" traumatic memories that were never adequately processed. EMDR is one of the few evidence-based treatments for emotional trauma. It is gentle and effective and doesn't require talking about the events in detail, which can be re-traumatizing in itself. I am also trained to use Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
Does the gender of your therapist matter? It all depends on what issues bring you to therapy. If you've had trouble relating to men--bosses or boyfriends, for example--the trouble might stem from a dysfunctional relationship with your father. Working with a male therapist can accelerate your healing process.
Another instance where therapist gender matters is when the client is a young person who lives in a "fatherless" household due to divorce, the father's death or incarceration, or just the father's lack of engagement with his children. Having a male therapist to talk to can go a long way toward a correcting the emotional emptiness and even self-blame the young person might be experiencing.
Self-Esteem and Self-Acceptance
People sometimes have a harmful assumptions about themselves or life in general because of distorted thinking, exposure to societal biases, or a difficult childhood--or all of the above. For example, a child growing up with a parent who abuses substances might form a worldview based on distrust, a feeling that they cannot depend on others who should take care of them. The situation forces them to grow up too fast. They believe they must be independent and strong in all situations. Sounds good--except when you're trying to have a romantic relationship, where interdependence is preferable. That person's partner will sense an emotional wall and often will end the relationship because of the lack of healthy intimacy. I have worked with many adult children of alcoholics (ACA or COA) who are in the grips of this powerful but often unrecognized pattern. Individual therapy is a recommended adjunct to Red Book step work and group work in local ACA meetings.
A self-acceptance issue I frequently treat is internalized homophobia in individuals who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. The life-long influence of societal, religious--and especially family--biases often instills a sense of shame, inferiority, and self-loathing that can be devastating. It can lead to substance abuse, depression, alienation, dysfunctional relationships, and self-sabotage.