All depictions in the client journeys below are fictional and include an amalgam of different successful cases seen in actual clinical practice. They are offered as examples of the types of clients I see and results may not be typical.
The Success Bill Thought He Wanted Failed to Make Him Happy
Bill is a patent attorney who was working 70 hour weeks in Silicon Valley. In order to make partner, he has had to devote all his time and energy into both generating and executing legal work for the firm. Last year he finally made partner. He thought this is what would finally make him happy…however, once the newness of the accomplishment wore off, he found himself feeling dull, even numb, inside.
Bill’s wife was equally busy raising their children, and because he had rarely been home to be a part of that, she had found her own activities to keep her busy once the kids started school. Once Bill reached the success he wanted at work, he realized he really had no one to truly share it with. There was distance in his marriage and his kids were growing up without him. He began to turn to wine at the end of the day.
When Bill came in to see me for therapy, we examined what drove him to work so hard. We looked at his stress level and what internal messages lurked behind. Bill learned about Mindfulness practice and began to practice checking in with himself through the day. His ability to observe his reactions to his environment strengthened. He realized he was often so preoccupied with his cases at work and the pressures of bringing in clients that he was often short with those around him. He often had the thought that no one understood his pressures and that other people, his wife and kids included, had it easier than he. Through our counseling sessions and Mindfulness practice, Bill learned to recognize and challenge this assumption, which allowed for some compassion towards others to bloom which improved his relationships with others. He also developed compassion for himself allowing him to ease up on the pressure he was putting on himself..
Through intelligent and creative conversation, we pulled forth and clarified his values so that he could then begin to act on his values, rather than react from stress. Bill also became more assertive in his communication. As a result, he was better able to ask for what he needed and wanted. Bill slowly reduced his hours at work, especially to attend to his kid’s activities. When we finished our counseling work together, Bill said he felt more alive, had more passion for work, better relationships with work colleagues and clients, and had renewed his relationships with his wife and kids.
Dave and Amy Begin a Fresh Start to their Relationship
Dave and Amy came to see me after close friends suggested that they seek couples counseling. Amy had been feuding with Dave’s family for years and felt like Dave never took her side. Dave was “tired of the drama.” He felt angry that he had to work so hard to pay the bills only to come home to strife.
Amy began to experience panic attacks that seemed to come out of nowhere. Dave started to smoke pot on occasion. Amy was shopping too much, which temporarily made her feel better, but stressed when the credit card bill came. They both started to yell at each other in front of the kids.
When Dave and Amy came to see me for couples therapy, Amy expressed she felt like Dave loved her, but didn’t like her any more. She was afraid he was done with the relationship.
Through marriage counseling with Dave and Amy, they began to really listen to one another and understand each other’s position. Amy began to have compassion for the fact that Dave worked under a lot of pressure as a high tech executive to pay for their lifestyle and to put their kids through the best schools.
She began to put effort into mending relationships with Dave’s family on her own, created a kid’s schedule and reward system for homework and chores, and scheduled a regular babysitter for weekend date nights with Dave.
The immediate result was a more peaceful atmosphere in the home for the entire family. In response to this, Dave immediately softened towards Amy. He found he looked forward to coming home and especially to their date nights. He began to like her again and listen to her feelings regarding the extended family. They began to set goals for their family, such as having dinner at the table together and purchasing a better-suited home, that were not possible when they were focused on crisis management.
When their couples counseling ended, they both reported they felt much happier and like their relationship had a new start.
Megan Stopped her Panic Attacks and Learned Peaceful Productivity
Megan, a young founder of a Silicon Valley startup, came to therapy at the request of her doctor. She had experienced repeated bouts of dizziness and feeling “out of her body”. After running a series of tests, her physician told her there was nothing wrong physically and that she was likely having panic attacks.
Megan thought her doctor was wrong, because she wasn’t worrying about anything when the attacks occurred; they seemed to come from nowhere. She was hesitant to take the anxiety medication he prescribed, but did and felt some relief. However, she didn’t want to take the medication for the rest of her life.
Through our counseling work together, Megan came to understand that the day to day level of stress she was operating under was too high. As a result, her body would randomly go into “fight or flight”response-even when she wasn’t in distress. Even though she was excited about her new start up, her ongoing stress level was simply too high.
Her startup business had just received substantial funding. Life was great…and full of pressure. She was definitely out of her comfort zone. We identified her “upper limits” problem as the mix of fear and excitement she felt about the prospect of her company “going big”.
As she learned to observe her moment to moment thoughts, she realized she spent most of her time either worrying about meeting the expectations of her investors or in fantasy about the possibility of her company “making her a multi-millionaire “.
Through therapy, Megan developed specific skills to keep her thoughts in the present moment. She found out that the more she practiced these skills, the calmer she felt. Her panic attacks slowly stopped and she was able to gradually reduce her anxiety medication until she was off of it completely. Megan learned that she could have in-the-moment, peaceful productivity that boosted her leadership skills at her start-up and increased the confidence of her investors.
For more information on how I can help you, to schedule a no-charge 20 minute phone consultation, or to make an appointment, please call or text 408-213-8148 or email at DrGinger@GingerMartirePhD.com.
Life can be more fulfilling…
You can be happy again.
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