Therapy Can Work

Katherine Rabinowitz, LP, M.A., NCPsyA

Licensed Psychotherapist & Psychoanalyst
Union Square, Greenwich Village, New York, NY

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Therapy Can Work

Katherine Rabinowitz, LP, M.A., NCPsyA

Licensed Psychotherapist & Psychoanalyst
Union Square, Greenwich Village, New York, NY

Individual Therapy

“After all these years, I am still involved in the process of self-discovery.
It’s better to explore life and make mistakes than to play it safe.
Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.”
~Sophia Loren

Why Therapy?

When people come to therapy it’s usually to find answers to or relief from an initial, pressing problem in their personal or professional life, lifestyle choices, or addictive behavior of many kinds. It might be causing difficulty coping with everyday life, low self-esteem, and generating feelings of depression, anxiety, irritability, loneliness, failure, or just general unhappiness. As we begin to explore how these things came to be a force in your life greater than your own ability to deal with them, more often than not we discover other underlying issues that contribute to what’s going on right now.

The Individual Process

Typical individual psychotherapy is a once- or sometimes twice-a-week insight-oriented process of self-exploration with a focus on how you came to be who you are and what about that person you’d like to keep or change.

We take a look at what’s going on in your life right now, what brings you to therapy at this moment, but we also bring in your family history and relationships to help us understand why things have gone off the rails.

What we talk about from session to session is up to you. In fact, that’s the whole idea. It’s not necessary to come in with an agenda of Important Issues to discuss, or talk about what you think I want to hear, but rather, to say whatever is on your mind on any given day, with the least amount of censoring possible. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but over time you come to trust that you are in a safe environment and can say anything you want without fear of criticism or retribution. It’s a collaboration: we’re in this together.

Your Defenses

Over our lifetime, we all develop a kind of self-protective network of defenses (like, say, ways of explaining things to ourselves to justify why this or that is the way it is, or needlessly blowing things out of proportion for effect, sabotaging our own efforts without realizing that we’re doing it, and so forth), which might work for a while, but which gradually becomes less effective. We might then add something else, without even being aware of it. Eventually it becomes untenable, and the system begins to break down, and our ability to cope stops working as well as it used to. That’s when the idea of looking for help begins to sound good.

Part of the work of therapy is to understand how those defensive strategies got there, why they’re not so effective anymore, and what you might want to substitute that would work better.

Like peeling away the layers of an onion, we begin to look at what’s underneath. What’s underneath is likely to be a little more tender, and the tendency is to want to protect it, so in-between sessions the tougher outer layers get built back up again.

What makes the process work is the regularity and consistency of sessions. It’s therapeutic to hear from someone who’s been trained to listen between the lines that the reasons you so often feel guilty, ashamed, helpless, blue, conflicted or confused (and a host of other feelings too numerous to list), aren’t always your fault.

Not a Blame-Game

It’s not about assigning blame, because that doesn’t solve anything. It’s about coming to understand where all these conflicting and painful feelings came from, and then accepting responsibility for what comes next. Your future is up to you. You are the author of your life from this point on.

My job is to help you recognize, understand, accept and resolve conflict (whether thoughts, feelings or behavior), to become a more effective agent in your own life, and to help you stop getting in your own way so you can have a fulfilling life that makes you feel more satisfied overall (I qualify because life is never perfect), able to enjoy the good parts and better tolerate the bad.

Time & Commitment

It is a process, and takes time and a commitment to working hard at understanding and looking at yourself in a new way. Progress is not necessarily steady or predictable. Unexpected issues can arise, external life events can intervene, resulting in a feeling of a setback. But for those willing to embark on the journey and stick with it, it can be one of the most revealing and rewarding experiences of your life. Opportunities you never expected may materialize; you might discover new interests, new goals, new friends or a new career, all of which you might then pursue with newfound zeal and energy. While there are no guarantees (therapy certainly can work, but whether it does is largely up to you) the results can be immensely rewarding.

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