I center my therapy work with clients around their relationship issues because I believe that fundamentally, the root of almost all of our emotional struggles–depression, anxiety, stress, loneliness, lack of motivation, self-loathing–stems from relationships. We are social creatures and we form our identities, experience our deepest wounds, discover our strengths and weaknesses, and find healing and fulfillment in the context of our relationships.
I remember the first two years of my clinical work as a therapist at the university mental health clinic–over time, I began to notice a pattern–whether my client was a freshman new to the whole college experience, a senior about to graduate, a Phd student, an international student, a burly football player, a sorority sister, an engineer, a historian, an artist–the moment in the therapy session when they suddenly realized and stated, “I’m lonely,” was the moment the tears would come. Even when I worked with homeless teenagers and adults, I expected their greatest struggles to revolve around their basic needs not being met–hunger, lack of shelter–but the thing they always wanted to talk with me about was their ex-girlfriend, or problems with their significant other, or a family member who was sick, or a friend who had died. It opened my eyes to see that social needs ARE a basic need.
In the 1930’s and 40’s, orphan children in American hospitals who were provided with food and shelter literally died because they were deprived of touch and emotional contact. Research by attachment theorist, John Bowlby, confirmed that loving contact is as important as physical nutrition and is necessary for survival. In an experiment with young monkeys separated from their mothers at birth, he discovered that these monkeys desired connection so badly that when given a choice between food or a soft-cloth “mother,” they would choose the cloth almost every time. When these same monkeys got older, they were unable to solve problems or understand social cues, unlike the monkeys who had mothers. They were depressed, self-destructive, and unable to mate. If monkeys are this in need of social attachments, imagine how much more human beings need relationships to survive!
One of my greatest role models, Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, attributes her success in law school to spending time with her baby daughter. She understood the value that investing in her relational life would have in living a holistic, successful life. Spending time playing games, going to the park, reading books, and singing songs with her daughter helped her to nurture her soul and clear her mind so she could get back to studying, renewed and refreshed. She stated in an interview: “Each part of my life provided respite from the other and gave me a sense of proportion that classmates trained only on law studies lacked.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg is also known for her strong, supportive relationship with her husband. Ruth’s husband coached her through the birth of her son, proof read her articles, stayed by her side in and out of the hospital when she had cancer, and helped her obtain her position on the Supreme Court.
If we want to make an influential impact on society through our work, it is crucial that we have people in our lives who nurture, support, and encourage us. We must be able to relate to and work effectively with others because we will almost always have to collaborate in some form to achieve a goal.
This is the key piece to success that tens of thousands of dollars in a college education will not teach you. This is why I am here to help. Through working with me you can understand how you relate, why you react to people the way you do, why you adore some people and can’t stand others, what keeps you from connecting, and what is going wrong in your relationships. I can help you to figure out how to better connect with others, how to communicate effectively, how to break down your barriers, how to nurture your relationships, and how to get the supports that you need to live a fulfilling and impactful life.