Therapy

Colleen Moloney offers Individual, Family & Group Psychotherapy in a comfortable office in NE Portland. Before starting a therapy process, clients often have questions about what to expect, as well as curiosity about a therapist’s individual approach in the therapeutic process. Therapy is, in most ways, a process of discovery. Questions and conversation prior to scheduling are always welcome.

Having practiced in this field for over 20 years I would describe my approach as…eclectic. I work from many theoretical models, sometimes one model exclusively and other times weaving a tapestry of patchwork pieces from multiple models which address the specific concerns being dealt with in the therapy room. This can make for a rich and tailor-made experience for clients, and is an enjoyable aspect of the work I do – helping to identify the best fit, the ideal approach, the perfect match between client and therapeutic tools.

The bits and pieces we may knit together in therapy can be any combination of:  self reflective work, learning about and practicing mindfulness, self awareness building, ideas from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Family of Origin perspectives, trauma work (including EMDR), along with ideas stemming from work in Nonviolent Communication. I use ideas from the research on couples done by John Gottman Ph.D and lean on work done by Harville Hendrix Ph.D, among many others.  Additionally, I draw from the vast pools of research done on the brain and attachment theory.

A good metaphor for therapy is often that of crossing a bridge – working with a therapist can help you get from where you are, to where you want to be – in fact, it can help you first understand where you are, and discover a deeper knowing about where it is that you want to be, then help develop the tools or skills necessary to get from here to there.

The process of therapy creates a safe holding place and non-judgmental arena for:

*self reflection and growth
*connecting with a more knowing self
*discovering and articulating your values, what it is you care about
*exploring the way in which you want to live in the world and live in relationships
*learning about and practicing relationship skills
*learning new skills around self care and nurturing
*the experience of slowing down and creating a sense of  calm
*understanding your history and when it is activated
*exploring your history’s usefulness to present day

With a sense of calm and a connection to your own values, you can make more conscious and informed decisions about how you move in the world, to be able to live as the person you want to be. All of this: the venting and talking, the listening, the skill building, the articulation of values, the calmness, the self care and nurturing help you live authentically as your best self.

I think you will get a sense of what sort of therapist I am from what I’ve written here on the page, but I welcome any additional questions you might have.

My role in therapy varies, in relationship to the individual needs and personalities of my clients. I am always curious, listening (to what is said and not said) and am an active participant. This may look like reflecting your thoughts and emotions back to you, asking questions, making observations, creating clarifications, offering education, teaching or reinforcement of the practice of specific skills.

I am often asked to “just tell me what to do.” This, as you may guess, is one thing I will not do, it is not part of therapy.  You have a unique story full of intriguing characters and experiences. I see my job as helping you to discover and practice living “what to do.”  What works for one does not work for all. It is never as simple as “just telling you what to do.”

The beauty of therapy, and one of the reasons I love my job, is each of us will find our own way, unique from all others.

During the first session we will talk about the reason you are here now. What is happening that you decided to make this appointment? I will also collect information about your your current life as well as your history. This session will involve me asking questions, listening and taking notes while you do most of the talking. We begin to get a sense of being in the room together. I strongly recommend and ask each person  to pay close attention to what it feels like to be here, talking in this room to this person – me, Colleen -their potential therapist.To begin therapy, first a minimal amount of paperwork is required, then an initial intake session will be scheduled.

A sense of comfort is essential to the therapeutic process (link). The experience of the next session feels quite different, and together through subsequent visits we begin to dig deeper to the current issues at hand, as well as the roots or repercussions of those issues…

Individual Therapy-
The source or sources of anxiety and depression is complicated. Therapy may help to discover the source which can create some relief from the suffering.  Some will feel relief without ever discovering the source. Although discovering the source is provocative and interesting (and often what we see depicted in movies and tv) it is not essential for experiencing relief. In many cases there are specific tools and techniques that can we can work with or learn about in therapy that helps alleviate anxiety, depression, and break patterns of stuckness that surround these states of being.

Often people seek help for depression or anxiety, not realizing that these two tend to come hand in hand. Both are painful and disruptive and get in the way of living a full life. Both can show up suddenly, each can be debilitating in certain circumstances. Therapy is a way to help an individual find a way beyond these sorts of issues, which can crop up in many of the circumstances of simply living modern life.

Anxiety can take a variety of forms, including:Yellow leaves on cobble stones
*worry and fear
*ruminating thoughts
*full on panic attacks
*social anxiety and performance anxiety
*constant or periodic agitation
*feeling revved up

Depression is not always obvious in its presentation, sometimes showing up as:
*sleep difficulties
*lack of interest or pleasure in activities and life
*difficulty connecting with others
*feelings of guilt and worthlessness
*lack of self-care and concern
*substance use and abuse

Couples  and Family Therapy-
Relationships; we live in them, they are the foundation of our lives. Relationships can be a source of great joy as well as pain and anxiety. I help couples or groups of people in relationship to each other (partners, families, extended families) to:
*improve communication
*build greater connection, creating the felt experience of “I’m on your side”
*expand empathy
*build and expand compassion
*reduce competition while cultivating a sense of “we are in this together”
*discover and connect to their own Best Self
*recognize their togetherness as well as separateness

I work with couples in all phases of relationship, providing the environment to help them to grow individually and as a couple. Together we work towards the ideas articulated above. I help people to stay or leave the relationship for the right reasons, help them to identify and choose the best options, make the decisions for themselves. To stay in or leave the relationship as their best selves.

Some couples decide on couples therapy as a “last resort” wanting to believe they tried everything before parting ways. Although there is hopefulness in this circumstance, too, it is generally not an ideal place to begin therapy or try to open lines of communication. For this reason I always encourage couples to seek counseling early as possible, as trouble first seems to be appearing, whenever possible.

Groups-
I’ve led a several productive groups in my office, bringing together individuals in a group therapy setting to dig a little deeper into the issues, topics, tools and insights that inform client growth and development. Once again looking to the idea of relationships and relating, there is an astonishing amount that we can learn about ourselves in the context of one another’s life experience or perspective.

Occasional Men’s Group: Men of the Twenty First Century
This group work started by asking participants the following sorts of questions:
How are you managing in your relationships (romantic, work, friendships, parental)…From whom did you learn about relationships…Are you the person you want to be…Where did you learn to be a man…Who is the man you want to be…When does he show up…When does he disappear…

Anxiety and Depression Group for WomenAnxiety Group for Women
This group focuses on the following topics related to resolving anxiety and depression, encouraging connection with other women while creating the safe space to be learning and practicing skills to live the life you want to be living:

*learn about anxiety, its many forms and the myths of anxiety
*learn how to practice mindfulness
*education and practice of acceptance and self compassion
*develop more satisfying relationships
*learn about control and the difficulty in the struggle with it
*be the woman you want to be

There is no right answer to this question. Therapy is a very individual experience. Some clients come in to discuss and resolve a very specific issue, and we end up working together for 2, 3 or 4 visits. Sometimes a client experiencing significant blocks in their lives will embark on a longer process of discovery, anywhere from 10 to 20 visits.

Often, someone seeking immediate assistance for a substantial problem will choose to come weekly in the beginning, then every-other-week, then taper off to monthly or even every few months for a quick check in, just to reiterate, remember and reinvigorate the insight, skills and practices learned over the course of our time together.