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Stephen’s Theoretical Orientation

Theoretical Orientation

kintsugi statueI choose to liken my approach to therapy to that of a kintsugi artist for the soul. Kintsugi is an art form that joins broken pieces of pottery back together with gold, remaking it through repair and highlighting its beautiful imperfection, adding to its value. The brokenness is very real, and yet, it no longer detracts from its beauty and value; it adds to its worth. That is how I see my work with those facing their brokenness, pain, trauma, shame and fractures in relationships with family, friends, themselves and God.

I believe that our struggles (or pathologies) arise from trauma and our response to it, which often creates shame. That confusing cocktail of pain and a commitment to self-protection and self-approval hides the beauty and creates ongoing shame that must be addressed.

Stephen B&W headtilt shotMy approach, in light of these core beliefs, is relational in nature; is interested in the narrative that leads to the moment we meet and how each story will unfold moving forward. I work with the existential questions of life and meaning; trying to create psychological flexibility that overcomes cognitive fusion (or the belief that we are our feelings or thoughts) and existential avoidance (those internal and external things we run from without knowing we are doing so). I have been heavily influenced by psychoanalytical theory (particularly British Object relations, and attachment theory) about the intrapsychic (internal structure and workings of the mind), and yet find myself more interested how that works itself out in the interpsychic (how the mind is effected through relationships both past and present); and how those relationships (and indeed, most importantly, our own relationship formed and revealed in therapy – this is relational psychoanalysis) can actually re-form the mind’s structure and flexibility moving forward.