Claudia Salazar, Psy.D
My work with clients over the last 10 years as a psychotherapist, as well as my personal life experiences, have brought me to a place of deep understanding and respect for the sense of urgency that comes with the desire of having the life we envision for ourselves, and the reduction of unnecessary suffering.
Life Transitions can be very hard, and even if you have never struggled with depression or anxiety, the stress brought up by a crises can make old patterns of coping ineffective. Some of the most common reasons that bring people to therapy when they are going through a difficult life changing event, are symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Life changes brought up by loss of relationships commonly bring up to the surface old wounds that we suffered in past relationships, as well as conflicts around physical and emotional intimacy, thus providing us with the opportunity to learn better ways to fulfill our needs for connection while remaining true to ourselves.
If during our consultation session you and I identify that your main problem is that your anxiety is not regulated (which usually causes problems such as gastrointestinal pain or discomfort, headaches, difficulty with concentration, panic attacks, blurry vision or other cognitive problems), then we will work together to help you ways to identify early signs of anxiety in your body, identify what is making you anxious (most people who experience fast rising-high levels of anxiety do not know what is triggering it), and learn how to regulate it.
You will find it interesting to know that a great deal of problems with anxiety regulation are related to our tendency to ignore, dismiss, or not having yet developed the self-observation skills necessary to identify early signs of anxiety. Unfortunately, people notice that they are anxious only when the anxiety is already too high leading them to become paralyzed by fear, or to experience significant pain in the body.
If the problem is that you are experiencing symptoms of depression such as significant sadness, difficulty with motivation, getting out of bed, significant self-doubt, or general unhappiness, then we will identify what causes or contributes to feeling this way. In most cases, symptoms of depression are the result of using strategies that help us deal or avoid with emotions that we find unbearable or threatening.
Some of these mechanism that we have used successfully in the past to protect ourselves or our most meaningful relationships, become unhealthy or simply stop working for us. As a result, we tend to struggle with thoughts about inadequacy, lack of self-worth, and frankly sometimes we experienced a great deal of difficulty with self-regard and self-compassion. Addressing effectively the mechanisms of self-neglect, self-hatred, and self-judgment will result in finding that ability to love and to believe in yourself again that you have been longing for.
Relationships, or lack thereof, are certainly one of the greatest sources of pain for most people. We all long for deep connections (whether we know it or not), but frequently experience significant pain when we are disappointed in our expectations, hurt by our beloved imperfect way to love us, or frustrated by our tendency to keep others at a distance. We constantly put up walls in our relationships that leave us feeling lonely, and unseen. Working closely with a therapist, allows you to see first hand the different ways in which emotions, thoughts, and fears come into play in intimate relationships. By witnessing in the here-and-now the display of all these dynamic factors as they facilitate or interfere with the work of therapy, you will have the opportunity to learn how to become more authentic at communicating your thoughts, desires, and needs in the context of interpersonal relationships.
One of the most challenging relationships that we sometimes have, is the relationship with ourselves. This is also an important focus of the work we do in therapy.
WHY INTENTION AND INTENSITY ARE FUNDAMENTAL VALUES OF MY THERAPY APPROACH?
I believe that for you to be able to see results in a timely manner, therapy must be done in a way that I call Intentional and Intense. This sets therapy with me apart from other forms of help that you might have tried in the past.
INTENTIONAL: Most of us, would really prefer to be talking about the weather or the last book we read, rather than facing the pain that we are feeling. We will work together to help you do the work you came here to do.
INTENSIVE: Your courage and willingness to face reality will likely evoke intense, painful feelings. Most people seek therapy because they want someone who can bear the pain with them, and I am here with you all the way. We have been socialized in our families to fear certain kinds of emotional experiences. However, feelings are not our enemies. The defenses that we use to deal or not deal with our intense feelings are usually the ones that create trouble in our lives. With most of my clients, we work together on identifying those defenses that no longer do their job of protecting you, and to free you up so that you can give voice to the healthy desires that defenses usually hide.
COMPASSIONATE: I keep in mind the person who is hiding behind the wall of defense and unhealthy habits and that frequently causes suffering. I strive to join forces with that part of you that is trying to move forward in life, and most importantly, we will help you see that side of you that sometimes can be quite elusive.
In our work together we will focus on uncovering what is at the bottom of your current problem. Our attention will be in the HERE and NOW. We will honor your history as it organically emerges in the therapy, but it will not be neither the goal, nor the pathway. By staying in the here and now, we have the chance to see exactly what is causing or contributing to your problem, thus giving us the chance to intervene right away to change course.
In therapy, we will focus on your emotions instead of just talking about them. In my experience, one of the main reasons that conventional therapy achieves only limited results and takes longer than needed is because there is a significant amount of weight placed on the intellectual understanding of the client’s problem. It is very important for change to occur that we can understand what is going on in our minds, however, research has demonstrated, that this understanding is only helpful when is the result of an emotional insight. This is the true aha moment!
I will help you face your emotions and your truth, instead of helping you avoid what has been scaring you. In my practice, I have seen it over and over that the most productive and helpful sessions are those in which the client comes with the intention to share some thing that is very difficult, despite being aware of how much they also would like to avoid talking about it. Your willingness to face in therapy what you want to normally want to hide from is what makes therapy possible!
In working with me, the ultimate goal is to bring about long-lasting changes, as time-efficiently as possible.