It takes courage to come bare your soul to a stranger. I want you to know that regardless of the issues you bring to counseling, of how defective or inadequate you may believe you are for not having been able to solve these personal dilemmas on your own, of how much anger you may feel at not having lived 'the life of your dreams', no matter how little hope you hold for change, I will not judge you.
Instead, I will help you develop or recapture the ability to feel compassion for yourself. To stop beating up on yourself for being human, which means being flawed. To learn to be okay with imperfection - that's as good as we're going to get in this life.
I will teach you to observe your thoughts as you are thinking them (that's called being mindful), to decide not whether they're bad or good but instead whether they are helpful or not helpful (that's meta-cognition: thinking about thinking!), to thank your brain for generating these thoughts even if they're not helpful (your amygdala, or anxious brain, has probably been used to working overtime for years and it's doing its best to problem solve for you, even if it's just running around like a hamster on a wheel inside your head!) and to simply move toward different thoughts if you decide that what you're currently thinking is not helpful. Many of us have been taught to tell ourselves, "Stop it!" whenever we notice that our minds are harboring 'bad' thoughts. This is like telling a two-year-old to stop saying 'No!". What happens? More "No!" and less cooperation. It doesn't work.
Once we have you non-judgmentally observing your thoughts and more effectively managing them, we'll start identifying specific issues and develop problem-solving strategies, depending upon your needs, learning style and preferred modalities (for example, thinking, feeling, being or doing).
Throughout the process we may sit still and meditate in silence. We may get physically active. We may laugh. We will surely cry - and that's healthy. Tears release oxytocin, the 100% natural pain reliever produced right in your own brain! We may draw, color, write or sing - creative endeavors are health boosters. Above all, I will listen to you because your life story matters.
I don't know how long it will take for you to feel better. Sometimes people feel worse for a while after starting therapy. This is normal because of the nature of what is being processed. Most clients come for weekly sessions to start and taper off as they begin to feel more capable of going it on their own. I may assign homework, which I have found through ample experience moves people forward faster.
Some of the issues I've helped clients like you resolve are described below.
They learned to notice and appreciate the possibilities of the present moment instead of being stuck in the past or the future.
They came to understand that they had done the best they could with the resources they had earlier in life and to forgive themselves for not doing 'better'.
They became able to complete the physical process by which the body responds to trauma so that they were able to desensitize when triggered and to allow trauma to recede into the past.
They developed the ability to manage panic by shutting down their bodies' fight-or-flight reaction to situations that were not really dangerous.
They became able to befriend their anxiety and use it as an ally, not an enemy.
They learned that it could be safe to have relationships with people rather than getting lost in substances or processes of abuse.
They learned to make peace with the physical changes their bodies were experiencing: aches and pains, serious illnesses or disabilities.
They left unproductive, negative or harmful relationships because they understood that the only people they could change were themselves.
They decided to stay in or to leave challenging or disruptive work settings because they learned that work did not have to define them.
They set off on bold new ventures because they became confident in their abilities to tolerate uncertainty and change.
They became willing and able to move forward with faith in themselves and a renewed sense of passion, purpose and peace.