Us humans are creatures of habit. Sure, we like some variety to make life interesting, but we feel most at home with ourselves and the world around us when our external reality aligns with our perceptions of how we predict things should be. Experiencing a sense of constancy in our lives helps us feel settled, secure, and more motivated to explore our world within and around us with curiosity and enthusiasm. But ... as you know, life is dynamic, not static, in nature. Change is a part of life. When we unwittingly experience abrupt changes, it can feel like the ground beneath our feet has suddenly disappeared. Disorienting ... bewildering ... sometimes leveling. For those folks especially sensitive to change, even planned or anticipated ones can bring a sense of discontent and fear. And heck, on a microlevel, sometimes just being confronted with a belief, value, or new knowledge that conflicts with our personal worldview can feel upsetting and put us on defense. Our ego is behind all this; its job is to protect us and keep our mortal bodies safe, but it can go overboard. Our egos react to bring us back to our sense of equilibrium. When we feel overwhelmed, we tend to close ourselves off from anything that doesn't match our worldview. What our ego is saying is I do not have the capacity to tolerate this. So we judge, resist, deny, suppress, ignore, avoid, and sometimes create chaos or 'static interference' to create distance between ourselves and this anomaly. We do this reflexively and before we realize what we're doing or why we're doing it. In our busy lives, the thought of being perpetually open-minded to understand all of the contrasts we encounter is not always reasonable or feasible. Challenging ourselves this way stirs in us confusion, uncertainty, incoherence – none of which feel comfortable.
Personal growth is most often NOT comfortable; it is what happens when we are both forced to confront change and somehow invoke the courage to grieve our losses and learn to accept our new reality.
We can be deeply resistant to change because change represents uncertainty, and uncertainty sometimes feels like chaos ... oblivion. Should I accept this change? Do I have to? What should I do?! Accepting changes often means we must confront the existential questions that arise in us. Who am I if the world as I know it doesn't make sense to me? Who am I without [this role, this relationship, these assets]? What do I stand for? What is my purpose in life? Where is my meaning in life? What is my new 'blueprint' for the rest of my life? The quality and quantity of our preexisting internal and external supports directly relates to our own ability to tolerate the inherent ebbs and flows of life and thrive.
My role is to guide you through your internal and external realities, help you leverage your strengths, nurture underdeveloped parts of yourself, and locate inroads leading to your sense of wholeness. With guidance, you will feel more able to accept what you cannot change, you will become more empowered to change what lies within your control, and possess the confidence and wisdom to know the difference. The process of therapy itself is amorphous; at times it can feel validating and supportive, but it can also feel messy and stir up old fragments of ourselves that have been disowned – in favor of the parts of ourselves we prefer to reveal. All of your parts are important. I guess I am really just someone who helps you safely experience you.
Dr Caruso-Maxey's therapeutic approach is integrative, and takes into consideration not only which evidence-based therapies are effective based on your symptoms, but also who you are as a unique individual. Since evidence-based interventions are only effective if you're able to engage in treatment, below are some of the internal and external factors that require consideration:
Most of the time, Dr Caruso-Maxey conceptualizes your needs and creates a plan after the first session, though because you are a dynamic individual, different interventions can be added or adjusted depending on what is appropriate at the time. You will be a part of the treatment planning process to ensure both you and Dr Caruso-Maxey are aligned in understanding your needs and desired outcomes.
I meet you where you're at; we walk together. I've never found it to be effective to push clients when they're not ready, or refrain from challenging clients when they're capable of a gentle push. Your body holds wisdom that even you may not be conscious of, creating thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that can seem incompatible with your goals and because of this, must be explored rather than dismissed. My therapeutic style is straightforward, sincere, intuitive, and relational, and I recognize that the work is not effective unless you feel safe enough to be honest with me and with yourself. While I am trained in the art of psychotherapy, you are the expert of you. I'm also quite aware that my role as your psychologist creates a power differential within the therapy relationship, and so I'm here to preemptively empower you to bring up any issues that may arise. I am always open to being wrong, as being 'wrong' is part of the human experience. I welcome and support mutual respect, authenticity, openness, and curiosity in therapy, because without them, there is no trust.
Dr Caruso-Maxey has specialized training and/or certifications in the following evidence-based therapies:
"Length of treatment varies depending on the aforementioned factors and how they interact with each other. Treating depression that came on a month ago without any other co-occurring issues is honestly rare these days, but this type of depression would likely be a lot quicker and more straightforward to resolve than say someone coming to see me after they've had untreated depression for two years, carrying of a history of victimization, attachment trauma, and exhibiting poor self-regulation from the habitual use of ineffective coping skills. "
"Everyone's needs are different, even if I'm treating the same diagnosis. If I notice there is no movement in treatment after three sessions, we will explore what might be happening and see if we can't move past any barriers. If I believe you need a different level, style, or type of support to help you that I cannot provide, I will let you know and will help guide you in that direction. All of my clinical training and most of my professional experience has been with brief therapeutic interventions, and I also know that some people need longer-term therapy to get to their desired goals and build a life worth living. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask."
You might be questioning yourself right now. Am I really depressed or just lazy and unmotivated? Am I really anxious or just being dramatic? Was what happened to me really that traumatic? You might start mentally comparing yourself to others and conclude that because there are other people in existence who you believe have it worse, you couldn't possibly be struggling. I mean, it's not like you can peer into anyone else's mind to compare your suffering to theirs, and no one can simply look inside your ears, nose, or throat to see what your suffering looks like from the outside in. But you see, this wound is not like a broken arm or appendicitis. You can't literally see it, nor can anyone else, and no x-ray or invasive medical intervention will simply tell you what you're experiencing is real and pop out a diagnosis. Living with an invisible illness does not mean it doesn't exist, and just because your mental math tells you you're too far down on the hierarchy of suffering to be entitled to be depressed, anxious, or whatever you might be experiencing, doesn't mean it isn't true. The cruel reality is mental illness doesn't care how your life looks on the outside; it happens regardless of your perceived or actual privileges. So, if you aren't sure whether you are struggling but you think you might be because the thought of being in this state for the rest of your life feels intolerable, just reach out. If I don't think you will benefit from therapy at this time, I will let you know.
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