Professional Counseling in Austin & Westlake Hills
3355 Bee Caves Rd, #505
Austin, Tx 78746
Hours: Tu, Th, Fri 11-6 | Wed & Sun 12-4
Whether you need to learn how to tame anxiety so that you can feel at ease with your decisions, or take charge of depression so that you have the energy to live your life again, I will help you understand what your symptoms are trying to tell you, and create a plan to help you find relief. People are often relieved to find out that what they learn in our sessions applies to many other life circumstances, not just what they came in for. This is because I teach mindfulness, adaptation and resiliency in all aspects of life.
If you have been feeling like you’re going in circles and cannot figure out why, or if you are having difficulty feeling understood, then it’s time to get started on a new way of living. Start by making changes that help you find what you have been looking for: understanding, hope, confidence, and quite often, simple answers to your questions that lead to efficient solutions to your problems.
Featured Article: Cathartic Writing – When the written word heals
Benny Pointer, 2007 – 2016
Sometimes we feel like our pain is so intense we just cannot get it out of our heads and hearts; it can be unbearable to the point of leaving us almost paralyzed with emotional agony. Recently, in Austin Texas, a local musician (John Pointer), known in countries around the globe, lost his trusted best-friend, his 9 year-old dog, Benny. Now John is already well-known for his musical and songwriting talents, but as you get to know him, you find that he has a heart of gold and wants to help people heal from whatever pain is in their lives; he sees music as a path to this kind of healing. When he couldn’t bear the pain, he decided to turn to what he knows best: writing. In this case, he wrote a letter from Benny’s perspective, about his final days. It is a heartwarming, and heartbreaking, example of Cathartic Writing where he begins to get the pain out of his head and heart, and on to paper; and in this case, out to millions of people who have read it and been helped to heal with it.
Please, read more. . .
Therapy helps you help yourself
You deserve to know how to adapt to life and its inevitable curve-balls. When you feel stuck though, it is important to know where to go to get what you need. Whether you just need some insight from a neutral 3rd party, or a more in-depth exploration of your circumstances, I’ll help you:
- See what your discomfort is trying to tell you
- Develop a plan that resolves the discomfort
- Apply that plan in changing circumstances
Because we will be focusing on where you want to go (rather than on where you’ve been), we will not get bogged down in the past; I will help you learn from your past experiences so that you can apply the lessons learned moving forward. Allowing therapy to ‘help you help yourself’ means facing towards what you want, not what you don’t want. Remember, you’ll go where you’re looking.
Therapy improves communication skills
Couples counseling is one of the most common reasons people start counseling. You probably feel frustrated and hurt when you feel that your thoughts and feelings are dismissed (dismissal is often called the worst kind of insult). I have worked very hard to develop an approach where both of you can feel heard and understood, even when you disagree with each other.
Think better, feel better
Our emotions are the physiological expression of our thoughts; this is why they are called ‘feelings’ . . . we physically feel them. We can all relate to having a stressful thought (“I have 10 things to do in the next 5 minutes!”), then feeling our shoulders and neck tense up; or perhaps we have an anxious thought (“Will my boss approve of my project?”) followed by a swirling ball of tar in our belly. And when you stop and consider that our emotions/feelings are processed in our brain, which is a slab of meat between our ears, the idea begins to make more sense! So, it’s ike the late Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “Change your thoughts, change your life!”
While working at an international Employee Assistance Program (EAP), I had the good fortune of receiving in-person training, clinical case consultations, and live supervision in the Solution-Focused/Brief-Therapy model by several of its pioneers and highest teachers, including:
- Insoo Kim-Berg
- Scott Miller, PhD
- Barry Duncan, PhD
These teachers were extremely important in shaping my approach to effective counseling. I learned to assume that you already have the tools for success and happiness; and that my job is simply to help you uncover them and apply them in new and creative ways. It’s a strengths-based approach that fosters adaptation to your reality by using your inherent strengths.
I also bring mindfulness practice into our work to help you see things from a less cloudy place. In stressful times, most people get caught in a negative cycle of judgement and “borrowing trouble” that only adds to confusion. When we strip away judgment and assumptions, we cut through the clutter and are able to see efficient solutions much more easily.
Your mind is your body
If you have ever wondered how on earth the mind and body are the same thing, I’ll explain it very simply: Your mind is a function of the gray matter between your ears . . . in other words, your “thoughts” are, at the most basic level, chemo-electrical pulses flying around the neurons (the gray matter) in your brain. Think of the neurons as the wires that carry electricity. And these wires extend all the way down to your fingers and toes; they control what your muscles do, that is, how you move the rest of your body around. This is why exercise is so helpful for mental health: the better you care for your body, the better you are caring for your physical brain.
In 2010, Jonathan was selected by renown spiritual teacher Ram Dass to be one of only seven people in the nation to share his daily thoughts and reflections on the 108 core teachings of the classic meditation & spiritual enlightenment guidebook Be Here Now," an Amazon #1 Best Seller in "Religion & Spirituality."–Click Here to read more. . .
Recently published articles
Here are a couple of commonly requested topics in therapy. For a complete list of articles, click here.
How discomfort is trying to help you
When you put your hand on a hot stove, it is the obnoxious pain that is helping motivate you to pull your hand away in order to stop doing damage. When you have a bruise, it is the pain that happens when you touch it that helps you leave it alone so your body can do what it knows how to do: heal.
Discomfort exists to eradicate itself. It wants to resolve, to go away, to let you return to a state of balance. This includes emotional discomfort like grief, anger, fear and sadness. Anger always arises from hurt; it wants to give you the energy and motivation to deal with the perceived or real threat that has hurt you.
Read more to learn how to make sure your discomfort helps you rather than making things worse.
Our families are the people that we are supposed to trust the most; who we are supposed turn to for comfort and guidance. We tend to take out or worst moods on them. They are the most important players in our early development, and since this is what we build on to become adults, they are also crucial to our adult development.
Growing up in a healthy home has a lot to do with our success in all parts of life. So, if things feel difficult, perhaps you see your kids acting out in ways that are concerning, it may be time to pay attention to those red-flags rather than assuming that it’ll just pass.
Read More. . .
Co-parenting: Best Practices for divorced parents
Take a close look at this picture. See the problem? The parents have forgotten how their relationship impacts their little girl. Perhaps they are divorced, and the father has just brought their daughter back after a great weekend with him. . . and this is what she will come to expect from visitation: a fight upon her return. To her, it must be her fault.
Of course you didn’t get married expecting to split up, but it happened; and now you have a kid, or a couple of them to care for. When a 2-parent household cannot be held together for whatever reason, it is critical that you and your ex- be able effectively co-parent so your kids don’t get caught in the crossfire. Handling yourselves with the dignity and integrity that you would hope your kids would show will help you to model if for them, and keep things healthier and peaceful.
Read about ground rules, tips, reminders and best practices here.
Trouble getting your husband or wife to agree to couples counseling?
This is by far one of the most common barriers to getting started in couples counseling. Typically, it is the husband or boyfriend that is opposed to “getting help” for the relationship. It is important to understand that this may not simply be laziness or defensiveness; rather, men often are concerned that they have already been judged as “wrong” or “broken” and that couples counseling will only be the counselor and their wife/girlfriend ganging up on them and telling them just how wrong they are and that they need to change. In addition, many men are raised in this society (perhaps both in their families and by society itself) to think that asking for help is a weakness; comedians often use the example of men refusing to ask for directions as comedic fodder (it’s funny because it’s often true!). Furthermore, they way the male brain works (Read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus) is that it wants to “fix” things, and if it has failed to fix something, then they may feel emasculated (less of a man). This is how a brain marinated in testosterone works. Finally, (and this is related to the last point in Men are from Mars) while men are wired to “fix things,” women tend to be wired to “process” or discuss things and look into them (this is how a brain marinated in estrogen and progesterone works). Of course, there are exceptions, but these generalizations tend to hold true. So, while women will usually be wired to know that processing things is the answer, men are often just not wired that way and have a difficult time understanding this (just as many women have a difficult time understanding why men find it so difficult to just listen instead of trying to fix everything).
This is where I can help. I can help you find a way to talk to your husband/boyfriend in a way that helps them hear what couples work is really about. I will help you know how to clearly let them know that you are aware that there are things that you do that annoy them, and that you are willing to work on these things as well. We will discuss how to tell him that I will not take sides, and that I will call you (wife/girlfriend) out just as quickly as I will him. Typically, once men see this in action, and they know that they have an ally that will help their concerns be heard as well, they are more likely to engage in couples work.
Read more about Marital and Couples therapy. . .
Buddy: The therapy-assistance dog
This picture really captures him (when he’s awake): Present, intelligent and a show-off.
Buddy is a regular presence in my office. He helps people feel more at ease. He is quite intuitive, does not bark, and and enjoys playing at Zilker Park. If he is not in “work” mode, he will likely come say hello, then go to sleep beside me. Feel free to give him a scratch, he’s super friendly! But please don’t just give him treats–he has to earn them, and sometimes he cannot have more if he has already gobbled several treats up from earlier clients.
I trained Buddy in the intensive Therapy Dog program at the local non-profit Austin Dog Alliance. While I do not take him to nursing homes and hospitals, his intuitive nature makes him a perfect fit as an emotional-support animal in my practice.