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Counseling and Treatment Approaches

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After over 20 years of experience working in the trenches with people from all walks of life, what I’ve come to realize is a lot of counseling or therapy techniques are ineffective due to one major reason: they do not begin with an in-depth assessment to dentifies all of the key factors contributing to your problems.

Without in-depth assessment, the “rudder” that drives the treatment approach and techniques is weak and unreliable. That is why I put such an emphasis on conducting in-depth assessments, and training other practitioners (such as psychiatrists at Banner Hospital) to do the same.

Because I’ve seen so many people not get the results they want from treatment, I wrote a blog that became very popular, which outlines the questions you should ask before you choose a counselor, therapist, or even a career guidance mentor.  Here it is:  12 Questions to Ask a Counselor, Therapist, or Mentor You are Considering Seeing

Here are common problems with counseling or therapy approaches, and how I address them:

The treatment meetings feel no more useful than a “coffee chat”.  My style is to ensure that our meetings remain vigilantly focused on helping you make progress on the problems you are experiencing.  We make measurable goals at the beginning of the treatment and assess those goals at every meeting.  Often, I will use numerical ratings in order to help you see how much progress there is been over time.

Nothing happens between the meetings.  Toward the end of each treatment meeting, I work with the client to identify what at-home exercises they need to do to amplify the positive effect of our meeting.

The treatment advice or guidance given feels generic or shallow.  Before I treat people, I conduct in-depth assessments so that we uncover all of the important factors contributing to the problem.  I use the most advanced assessment methods to develop a cognitive map of the factors contributing to the problem, and how those factors relate to each other. We draw this up on the dry erase board in my conference room and the client receives a copy of the cognitive map. From there, we develop a strategic approach composed of a customized set of tactics were going to use.

The client feels the therapist has their own personal problems that they bring into the meetings.  This is a common problem in my field because many people go into the field of counseling or psychology because they want to solve their own problems.  After going through six years of training and undergoing assessment myself, using many different types of personality assessment tools, I gained a panoramic perspective where I have been able to pinpoint unconscious processes affecting my functioning.  I know the key to being a great mentor or counselor is truly knowing yourself, so that your own issues do not get in the way of providing a completely client-centered experience.

Many counselors think “caring is enough” and lack the necessary technical skills to effectively treat problems.  So many counselors and therapists believe that if they care enough the client will get better. However the best treatment is a combination of a caring attitude combined with a sophisticated combination of techniques.  For example, most people are unaware that there is an ongoing list that is constantly updated which outlines what are considered to be the truly evidence-based methods in the field of behavioral health.  Click here to go to that list.   My original training and focus is always been to use the most advanced methods so you get the treatment you need in the most cost-effective manner possible.

Great treatment follows a Craftsmanship Model

With much of the counseling world headed to the corporatization of counseling, there is a movement toward higher volume, and away from providing you with a more customized, personally tailored experience. I have intentionally chosen to stick with the craftsmanship model of being an independent PhD.  Our meetings are never rushed, and you’ll never feel like you are on a conveyor belt as can be, and in some healthcare offices.  My office is completely private, and I even have a separate entry and exit so my clients never run into each other.  Because I see some high profile clients, this can be very important!

Ongoing Researcher = Better Clinician

My focus is to continue to engage in research as well as to continually provide expert witness work in the legal realm, all the while working with a healthy combination of high functioning to more challenged individuals.  This wonderfully refreshing diversity of experiences allows me to stay on my toes, and provide you with a unique hybrid approach where I weave together many different knowledge bases into unique solutions that can help each person that I work with.

One of my more recent areas of research is developing a unique process to help people (including students) figure out what they are TRULY meant to do. Here is a story from one of my college-aged clients. Helping you or your student prevent unnecessary college debt is a passion of mine! 

Deep Community Relationship > Enhanced Team-Based Treatment

If we work together and you already have other people who are working with you, I make sure to understand what role I should play, and what role other highly effective professionals should play.  We figure this out together.

As a Tucson-based counselor, I recognize that your team needs to work very closely together, and I have built a thick and reliable network of trusted professionals with whom I have strong ties here in Southern Arizona. Moreover, sometimes we need to find someone with expertise outside of Tucson and I have developed a nationwide network of professionals. That way, we can find the very best people who can also save you time and money.

Techniques in my toolbox include the following:

  • Social Skills Training
  • Behavioral Modification
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Exposure-Response Prevention (ERP)
  • Insight-Oriented/Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Hypnosis
  • Progressive Relaxation

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