Basic elements of my approach:
I enjoy reading and hearing about different ways of thinking about psychotherapy and have incorporated ideas from many, many therapists and writers. I read about new forms of therapy as they come to my attention and often find my work enhanced when seeing it through a new writer's perspective. My principal reliance, though, is on the time-tested approaches originating from the psychodynamic, existential-humanistic, experiential and Gestalt therapies.
By “psychodynamic” I mean, in a nutshell, that who we are now didn’t form in a vacuum. As an example , someone whose father left when s/he was 4 is likely to be more sensitive to being left than someone who made it to adulthood without any major losses. Someone who was repeatedly teased and insulted may have more trouble with confidence than someone from a supportive environment. That kind of stuff. I think it’s worth grounding discussion of present conundrums in aspects of our history that might be at play in the present.
By “existential-humanistic” I mean that people naturally grow toward increasing health, wholeness and integration and that they do this in the context of the challenges of being human. The awareness of our finiteness - the limits of our time and our eventual death - weighs on us. The balance each of us must find between being isolated individuals and being in community with others is always at play. The need to discover or create meaning for our lives presses on all of us. These may move from forefront to background for us, but I see these themes as always present in some way. (I've encountered the misconception that existentialism is somehow in opposition to spirituality. For me, existentialism focuses on the givens of this life and easily fits with explorations of how other realms are experienced.)
By “experiential” I mean that, by and large, we try to move beyond conceptualization and abstraction, and check in on what’s happening in the person in the room. For instance, it is different to ask how you felt during an argument last night than to ask how you are feeling now as you recall it – and the latter is generally more interesting and more productive. We invite as full an awareness as possible of the complexity of each moment.
“Gestalt” adds a particular focus on the “how” – how our attention moves, how we choose and form our thoughts. It also adds an encouragement of experimentation. The most famous Gestalt technique, having a dialogue with another person or another part of yourself in an empty chair, is merely the most visible form of such experiment. More subtle ways to explore our split-off parts are also valuable.
Ultimately the mix that comes into any particular session is guided by our interacting intuitions in the moment.