Therapy with Colman
From your perspective, what is therapy?
Therapy is a process that promotes growth, healing, and change by examining who we are, where we have come from, and how we act with others and in the world. This work is made possible by establishing an atmosphere of safety and acceptance in which to explore the full-range of human experiences, especially those that confront us and contribute to problems in day-to-day life.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is based on the idea that we are often motivated by thoughts, feelings, and desires that are not fully understood or that are out of our full awareness.
Please share 2-3 anonymized examples of how the work can play out and/or look in the room so that I can form a visual or narrative of what to expect.
-A young man discussed his anger at his mother for having made holiday plans for his new family. These plans, the client said, felt intrusive and made him feel babied. In addition, his mother’s holiday plans went against his own desire for a quiet holiday weekend alone with his wife. When the therapist asked the client how he had hoped to communicate this conflict to his mother, the man indicated that he could not; his mother had given him opportunity to plan the holiday get-together but he did not give input because he feared hurting his family. The therapist pointed out that (1) it seemed that guilty feelings had inhibited the young man from expressing his true wishes (2) so he had relied on a long-standing pattern of deference to his mother. This made him feel angry and dependent. The therapist empathized with the young man’s struggle to assert himself with his family and shared curiosity about other areas of the man’s life where he felt similar inhibitions.
-A couple met with the therapist to discuss a series of unpleasant interactions about sharing responsibilities at home. The husband described feeling hurt and resentful toward his wife when that morning she greeted him by saying that the bathroom was a disgusting mess. The husband felt bitter, he said, because the morning before he had spent time organizing the living room after his wife had stayed up late and made a mess. He was irritated, he said, but cleaned up because he knew it was the right thing to do. The therapist observed that husband and wife both liked to have a clean home but had trouble communicating to make this happen. Rather than engaging his wife in a direct way about tidiness in the living room, he cleaned on his own while hoping his wife would be more thoughtful next time. Rather than making clear her expectations for bathroom cleanliness, the wife criticized her husband leading to his retreat and defensiveness. The therapist assisted husband and wife in exploring their shared expectations and how to realize them.
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
Sharing can be a wonderful form of feedback to reflect on and affirm the hard work that clients do during therapy. As a rule, I share if and when it is in the service of the client and I believe it will meaningfully deepen or impact the treatment process.
How participatory are you during sessions?
I am very participatory in sessions.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
While I do not assign homework, my sense is that psychodynamic psychotherapy can provide opportunity for new ways of engaging with and relating to the world between sessions.
How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
Psychotherapy is a professional helping relationship unlike those with family or friends. It is guided by professional ethics, theories, and techniques that focus on the needs of the client. Relationships between therapists and clients can be quite close. However, they are always guided by professional standards that serve the interests and needs of the client.
Is there ever a time when you would encourage me to leave or graduate? Or how do I know when it’s time to end or move on, or time to stay and explore more?
The choice to end a therapy is the decision of the client. In my work, I offer ongoing opportunity for reflection on the therapy process to explore and evaluate how the work is or is not meeting client needs and expectations. This is often an enriching exercise that can further strengthen the work or help bring the treatment to an appropriate end.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
As a graduate student, I completed field training at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s. Since 2015, I have worked at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s in a community psychiatry program for children struggling with serious mental health needs and their families. In this work, I have addressed a wide range of mental health issues among a highly diverse population.
I have significant experience with psychotherapy for children and adolescents and parent collaboration. Some of the issues which have concerned my patients include anxiety, depression, gender identity and sexuality, suicidality and self-harming behaviors, substance use, relationships, and many others.
Working with children and families in community mental health is a great privilege and one that has enriched my experience with psychotherapy. I have learned much from my clients and also from talented colleagues: parent advocates, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists.
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
I am currently a candidate in adult psychoanalysis at the New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, the oldest society for psychoanalysis established in the United States. This is an intensive, 4-year program of post-graduate course work and supervised clinical work. I have completed one year of post-graduate study in psychoanalysis and dynamic psychotherapy that included advanced course work on child development and psychotherapy theory and technique.
What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
I became a mental health practitioner because of my love for and interest in people and my belief in the power of psychotherapy to enrich and enhance their lives. Dynamic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis is a unique and intensive treatment approach and theory of mind that I have found both professionally and intellectually gratifying.
What is the best part of the work for you?
It is a great privilege to work with so many wonderful people and to be a part of an intimate process of growth and self-examination. I am delighted to be involved in treating mental health and feel lucky to be excited and curious about the profession.
What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
One thing that makes my work as a therapist unique is how I blend classical psychodynamic ideas and techniques with a down-to-earth, approachable style.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
I have had the privilege of working with a highly diverse clientele with a wide variety of backgrounds. As with other issues, I look to my clients to determine the extent to which we explore issues of identity and diversity in treatment. I have great reverence for each persons’ background however they present or represent it. It is an important aspect of living, about which I am happy to explore.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
Over time the benefits of psychotherapy should be clear in your life. Some examples of how you may know a psychotherapy is working for you might include: more enjoyment in relationships and work, greater appreciation of and control over powerful feelings, reduced impulsiveness, clarity of mind, and improved focus, to name a few.
How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
In my work, I do my best to listen closely to the experiences of my clients and give attention to unspoken communications. Feedback is something I eagerly seek with my clients.