I am a client-centered therapist, specialised/specialising in Emotion Focused Therapy. Perhaps this information doesn’t say you much. But it’s essentially different from for example cognitive behavioural therapy. Some of the principles which define my therapeutic approach:
- You’re the expert of your life and you possess all the capabilities to move beyond present challenges. The overall goal of my therapy is to bring you more in contact with your own capabilities so you can continue growing in your direction.
- Because you are the expert and not me, I’m not going to tell you what you should do, think or feel.
- This doesn’t mean however that I’m just friendly nodding and confirming anything you say. I will invite you often to check with yourself how something (a situation, something you said, some feeling) makes sense to you and if you can become aware of deeper meanings or feelings. Furthermore, I can invite you to exercises that help evoking or regulating emotions.
- Thoughts and feelings cannot be controlled. So I don’t offer techniques how to change/correct/control them.
- Emotions are an essential part of the therapy I offer. I try to offer a safe space where you can get in touch with all your emotions, including the painful ones. Important ingredients for this safety is the so-called client-centered attitude (warmth, non-judgement, genuinity, being non-directive (=not the expert)) which I try to embody.
- I regard you (and every client) as a whole person, rather than as a collection of behaviours or symptoms. So I don’t limit the scope to your symptoms (like is done in cognitive behavioural therapy)
- DSM-diagnosis (like depression or a personality disorder) or labels (like High Sensitivity) can certainly have value, but in my therapy it’s not relevant as I try to understand you as an unique person with your own unique history. Two people with the same diagnosis can have completely different issues.
- This said, I do recommend people with severe problems (like for example psychosis or a high risk of suicide) to seek help of specialists.
What is Emotion Focused Therapy?
I offer Emotion Focused psychotherapy developed by Greenberg (note: this is not the same as Emotionally Focused Therapy, which is a therapeutic approach for couples developed by Sue Johnson). EFT is rapidly growing more and more popular. The basic assumption is that we all have fundamental emotions which point to essential universal human needs (like for example feeling connected/seen/understood or assertive anger when someone crosses your boundaries). When we grow up, we learn (mostly from our parents or other important caregivers) to suppress (some of) these fundamental emotions with so-called maladaptive emotions like anxiety, shame, guilt. Take as an example a child whose initiatives for closeness were met with criticism and rejection from the parents. This child may learn to connect closeness with shame. As an adult, this person can then have problems with intimacy with romantic partners, as he/she feels easily ashamed when trying to become close to someone.
As we humans don’t want to experience feelings like anxiety, shame and guilt, over the course of our life we develop strategies to not feel them. Common strategies are:
- Worrying about things that can go wrong in order to feel control
- Trying to achieve a lot in order to ‘gain’ recognition
- Putting other’s needs first
- Avoiding making mistakes (perfectionism)
- Suppressing one’s emotions (eg by numbing out, taking substances, overworking, distracting oneself)
These so-called coping strategies do to some extent work (otherwise we wouldn’t stick to them). But in the long run, they will often cause problems. Putting other’s needs first can for example lead to unhealthy relationships. Perfectionism can cause a lot of anxiety when one is in a life stage where things are less under one’s control (eg when looking for a job after graduation or after moving to a new country). Emotionally, it’s often feelings of helplessness, frustration, a global sense of distress, a lack of energy, a depressed mood or anxiety which show that our coping strategies fall short and that motivate one to seek professional help.
The first thing you will notice when you do EFT-therapy, is that you’re encouraged to pay attention to any emotions that arise. This may feel scary at first. Many people have the belief that if you attend to emotions, you will ‘get stuck’ in them, or you will ‘drown’ in them. With help of the therapist and regulation techniques, you learn to find the right distance towards emotions: neither numbing them or drowning in them. By allowing emotions, you get access to the information which emotions possess (like the meaning of them or the needs which are connected to them). Furthermore, you can then become aware of deeper emotions which are hidden underneath them. It’s these deeper emotions that guide you on a journey of self-knowledge and self-acceptance. Eventually, difficult emotions connected to painful experiences from the past will transform. For example, the person who learned to connect closeness with shame, can work through his/her negative childhood experiences with his/her parents by connecting to assertive anger (asserting your needs and self-protection) and grieve.
Using self-assertive anger and self-compassion you can then develop a more positive sense of self and more assertively champion your own deep needs which weren’t met in the past in the present.
Examples of challenges I can help you with:
- negative thoughts are at times impacting your mood and energy
- you find it hard to make important decisions in your life
- you don’t know how to deal with difficult emotions
- some situations trigger unpredictable tensions/anxieties/self-doubt
- you find it hard to focus
- you suffer from traumas (single trauma or complex trauma)
- you find it hard to deal with things that happened to you in the past
I have a background in clinical psychology and mindfulness. More about my educational background you can find here.
To book a session you can contact me at email@example.com. I offer sessions at my home at Granaatstraat 38 in Amsterdam. Sessions last 60 minutes and cost 75 euro an hour including VAT.