We often seek therapy because the ways we’ve learned to navigate the world aren’t working the way they used to or the way we’d like them to. Sometimes these strategies cause us pain and sometimes they cause pain to others. Our work involves uncovering strategies we’ve learned to survive in the world and understanding where they come from. Once we understand their origin and function, we can develop awareness of when they arise in the present and make choices to navigate differently.
Because I believe we can’t fully embrace change without understanding the forces that influence us (who we are, where we are, when we are, with whom we are), we’ll identify and consider the multiple and complex ways our many identities have been more and less present in our lives; the ways our identities overlap and intersect, magnify and minimize, and influence and are influenced by the systems with which we interface.
I also use my lived experiences: growing up gay in the 1970’s, coming out when HIV/AIDS was a likely death sentence, being Jewish, being the grandson of immigrants, being an older adult— of being “other,” to inform my work around acknowledging the parts of us that feel marginalized in some way. At the same time, I use my experiences as a white-identified, middle class, male-identified person to inform the ways I understand privilege and the responsibility that comes with also holding privileged identities. Our lives become much more complex when we hold the tensions of all our identities which, over time, are both more and less present and more and less congruent.
And while what we talk about in therapy is important, our evolving relationship is equally important. It provides a window to the world outside of therapy, and an opportunity to translate changes made inside the space we create, to changes in spaces that exist and are created outside of therapy.