From my perspective, the process of therapy falls outside the limits of the diagnostic realm and the DSM-V. Though you will need a diagnosis on file if you wish to use your insurance, I do not think of this diagnosis as a definition or even necessarily as an illness. Often, the way medical professionals speak about mental health diagnosis puts the responsibility on humans to cure or manage their “condition”, as if something is simply wrong with your brain biologically without any wholistic approach to looking at the larger impact of the systems surrounding you. I do not provide comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations and will refer you to a prescriber or psychologist for these purposes.
Additionally, in many cases what might qualify for a DSM-V diagnosis might also be a very adaptive and appropriate response to trauma, stress, and a rapidly shifting political, social, and ecological climate. In other words: I see your humanity in your responses to stress - anxiety, depression, difficulty focusing, heightened sensitivity, a desire for isolation - all these responses make sense in our society, which is generally unsupportive of human wellbeing. Sometimes these responses can indicate a very strong survival instinct, even if they aren’t helping you live the life you want.
There is certainly a place for diagnosis in our work together. For one, it can help to provide some language, context, and understanding for common human responses as symptoms that fit into a category. This can help us feel less alone when we know there are other humans experiencing the same feelings we are. It can also help to know specific treatments that work well for categories of symptoms, as some treatments work very well for certain categories but are not very effective for others. Sometimes symptoms can feel very disturbing, and adjunct treatments in addition to therapy may be helpful.
At the start of therapy together, there will be space to discuss diagnosis, if that is something you wish to be part of our intake process. It is important that I understand as much as I can about what your experience looks like to ensure that I am the right person to support you. However, a main goal of therapy is to understand yourself better and by doing so to sort out what kind of life you would like to have, and understand both the internal and external barriers in the way of that life. It is also ideally a place where you can feel deeply understood, heard, and validated, and come into a more loving and compassionate relationship with yourself in the midst of a harsh world.
Ultimately, the way you understand yourself is most important to me. I hope to provide a warm space for all humans where you can be you, free of judgement, constraints, and opinions. I am not an expert on your life, nor am I here to tell you what might be "wrong" with you or what to do. I am simply here to walk alongside you for support as you do the difficult work of honest self-exploration. You are very welcomed here.
Therapy and diagnosis