Hope and Compassion
I find that most people who come to therapy have already tried to help themselves. These efforts can sometimes backfire and actually create symptoms that are worsening rather than improving. For example, many people try to avoid a particular thing that makes them anxious.
Often the behavioral solution is counterintuitive. That is, in order to reduce your fear of something you must stop avoiding that thing. So you can see how any person would easily become discouraged and lose hope when they perceive that despite doing everything they can think of to get better,
nothing seems to be working!
Let me help you rediscover and nurture hope. We can create it together.
Your Free Consult
All therapy services for clients are strictly confidential. I like to take the initial session to get a clear understanding of an individual’s or couple’s particular concerns and to allow them time to ask questions in order to determine if we are the right fit for treatment. I will make suggestions about the possible course that therapy could take so that clients can make an informed decision about whether to proceed with treatment. All treatment goals and plans are made collaboratively and if at any stage a client decides to end therapy, I will suggest other avenues of support that might be more appropriate for them.
Evidence-based therapy is based on research that provides evidence that a particular therapeutic intervention actually works. Lots of research has been done to determine what it means for therapy to “work” and how recovery is technically defined. Understanding what specific treatments work, and how to put them together in a treatment plan, is part of evidence-based therapy.
A holistic approach is an approach that considers as many contributing factors as possible. That is to say, therapy focuses on the whole person and not just on that person’s cognitions. We all exist in a context and that context is important to feeling better. That means Dr. Alison considers how physiological factors might affect psychological factors.
Adults (18 – 64) comprise about 2/3 of my practice. Adults participate in individual therapy or in one or more select group therapies, including couples therapy.
I also offer help for children and adolescents (9-18) who struggle with anxiety, panic, strong emotions / highly sensitive personalities, or obsessive compulsive disorder. Time slots for this age group are fairly limited because they are generally during after-school hours. Please contact me so we can discuss how I can best meet the needs of your child.
Anxiety or Panic: Ever feel like the other shoe is always about to drop? Or, perhaps you have had a panic attack, or you suspect you might have had one. Anxiety and panic can truly be miserable but the good news is that panic attacks respond well to behavioral treatment. I use a multi-systems approach to helping people with anxiety and/or panic that focuses on both physiological and psychological aspects of anxiety. You can help your brain learn to calm down, and life will get better.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Not everyone who finds themselves sorting all their shirts by color or arranging objects on a desk actually meets the diagnostic criteria for OCD, even though we all joke about it (“Oh, I have to make sure it’s completely straight – I have OCD!”). Even mild OCD can lead to a lot of stress and wasted time. Treatment is not complicated, but it does demand your best efforts. OCD can look pretty different depending on personality and circumstances, but it responds beautifully to the same basic behavioral principles. I love helping people individualize treatment in ways that work.
Depression: Clinical depression is a distinct period of at least 2 weeks where you feel quite sad or blue, you don’t enjoy life the way you used to, it’s hard to find anything interesting anymore, you often feel unusually guilty and you may even have thoughts of suicide. Sometimes people sleep or eat much more than usual and sometimes they sleep or eat much less than usual. Depression is in large part a physiological problem. I use a holistic approach to tackle depression from multiple aspects at once. We’ll talk about nourishing the brain, getting a good night’s rest, as well as understand how thinking patterns and difficulty tolerating emotions can create trouble both mentally and physically.
Sensitive Temperament or Personality: Ever wish you could just flip a switch and turn off all your emotions? Although there is no specific diagnosis for this challenge, much of what I do is geared toward helping people who may be a little more (or a lot more!) sensitive to emotions as compared to the average person. Come find out why I think being sensitive is actually an advantage once you learn how to manage your sensitivity.
Difficulty Managing Emotions: People who have difficulty managing their emotions may find themselves unable to have as much control over anger, sadness and fear as they might wish for. Dialectical Behavior Therapy is an ideal treatment to help those who would like to develop better “control” of their emotions. You’ll learn to tolerate difficult emotions instead of running away from them or numbing out. You’ll find that you are tougher than you thought you were and that emotions aren’t so awful once you figure out how to “have” them.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills Group: If you know about DBT, then you probably know what this group is all about. DBT Skills group is a weekly meeting that’s actually more like a class than it is like a traditional psychotherapy group. Members of the group learn about and practice skills in managing difficult emotions, tolerating distress, becoming truly skillful at communicating (and getting what you want), and developing discipline of mind.
- DBT-compliant individual therapy. If you’re not sure what this means, please contact me and we’ll talk about it.
- There are four skill modules (like sections) and it takes about 20 weeks to complete the group. Often people choose to go through the group more than once.
- DBT Skills group dovetails with your individual therapy. You’ll learn skills in group that get applied to your life during individual therapy.
I provide couples therapy for couples who are committed to making their relationships work. I will not do therapy with couples who are simply making one last-ditch effort before they divorce because it is my experience that they have already made the decision to split up, and their subsequent lack of commitment significantly interferes with therapy.
I am very up-front about the fact that I have a strong bias toward trying to make marriage work. I am not likely to encourage a divorce, so please keep that in mind as you think about whether or not you want to work with me in therapy.
Couples usually complete a personality assessment called the PRF. This is a “normative” test of personality and it will tell you useful things that relate to how your work together as a couple. It is not, however, a test that will tell you whether or not you have a psychotic disorder, so don’t worry that it will reveal all your hidden secrets ? You will learn to appreciate the other person for who they really are. Most couples find the shared sense of discovery helpful, and most people find out that their spouse is probably trying to be less annoying than they might have thought. What I mean by this is that the PRF helps you understand what drives your behavior. It may be that you simply have a need to be quite independent, and therefore the reason you don’t include your spouse in decisions is not because you are trying to be irritating.
I encourage couples to start therapy before things get really bad. It’s easier to mend broken relationships when you can still find all the pieces. However, if things have already gotten pretty rough in your relationship, don’t give up hope. Most couples don’t seek therapy as soon as they probably should. Behavioral marriage therapy can help you re-awaken those long-lost feelings of love for your partner, and can help you feel closer and more deeply understood by each other. If you are committed to making your marriage work, things can get better.
If you aren’t able to get the therapy help you need now, you might benefit from reading the book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman.