Ken A. Verni, Psy.D.       Approach to Therapy

mindfulness approach to therapyI view psychotherapy as a shared learning process that takes on a shape and direction which allows for creative responses to the issues at hand. Therefore, the elements of our work together will vary and shift in emphasis over time and in response to what is needed at any given moment. My clinical education and training has predominantly been in psychodynamic psychotherapy with an emphasis on what is referred to as a relational approach. It is called 'relational' because it recognizes the social nature of our experience as humans from infancy to adulthood. Simply stated, this approach uses the exploration of our current and past relationships, and what arises in the therapeutic relationship as doorways into a greater understanding of the issues that create psychological distress in our lives. Our relationship to our own feelings, needs, desires and fears is also a very important part of this work. In addition, my experience with mindfulness practices have led me to understand the importance of bringing awareness to our moment to moment sensory experiences, our habits of thinking and acting in the world and how we can learn to make different choices from moment to moment which help to generate a greater sense of stability and well being in our lives. 

While reflecting on how I ‘approach’ therapy and what I hope for and expect from myself during our meetings and what I hope for and encourage in my clients, the words Attention, Curiosity, and Compassion came forward most prominently. Here is my understanding of how these elements inform my efforts towards providing help.

Together we will bring a very careful attention to the elements of your life, your current situation including physical and psychological health factors, close relationships, employment and career pursuits, and your current strengths, goals, and aspirations for your future. Equally important will be the attention we bring to your past experiences including your experiences as a child, your early relationships with caregivers and other important figures in your life, and any other elements from your past that you believe might be having a meaningful influence on your current situation. Finally, and perhaps most importantly we will work together to bring gentle attention to what transpires from moment to moment in each therapy session. In this way, (at a pace that feels right for you and with the curiosity and compassion described below) we can use what comes forward in each session within you and within our relationship as an opportunity to understand and reflect on the elements that make up our experience as human beings struggling to relate to ourselves and others with a sense of safety, ease and confidence.
I will encourage you to join me in a non-judging, non-blaming attitude of curiosity towards yourself- the thoughts, feelings, fantasies and physical sensations you experience throughout your day-, your past and current experiences and relationships, and whatever comes forward during our meetings together. For me, this curiosity includes elements of deep respect for what is known and not known about what shapes our sense of who we are and what drives our moods and behaviors, an interest in a process of shared discovery and mutual learning and a willingness to bring a sense of awe or respectful amusement to the infinite varieties of adaptive and mal-adaptive coping strategies that arise in our attempts to manage the challenges we face in our lives.
Very often when we are stressed or unhappy about something in our lives we forget to offer ourselves and the situation at hand a degree of compassionate attention. Instead our sense of judgment or shame can dominate our experience and we in turn have greater difficulty looking directly at the issue or personal challenge that we are faced with. Sometimes our attempts to avoid or look away from a painful element in our lives only serves to create more difficulties, further confusing and complicating our task of healing.  In our work together, I will invite you to start from a place of compassion that states “there is more right with us than wrong with us” and from there, within a framework of trust, clear boundaries, careful listening and respect, we can begin the process of looking deeply at the issues you are seeking to understand and overcome.