Relational Psychodynamic

Dr. Alan Nathan, Psy.D.

Relational Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Relational Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is all about helping you to better understand how your mind, body, and interpersonal life can work together to relieve your emotional pain and to create opportunities to make lasting changes in your life. We will work to help you discover how your unconscious mind is creating problems for you and how those problems can be altered toward creating opportunities for change, healing, and growth.

What is the unconscious mind?

The part of our mind that stores what we have learned about ourselves, relationships, and life. It regulates what we pay attention to and what we keep out of our conscious awareness. It reacts to both imagined and real dangers as well as imagined and real opportunities for happiness and success. And it includes thoughts, feelings, and desires that we keep out of awareness for fear that they’d make us not like ourselves or cause problems in our relationships with others. The problem is that these thoughts, feelings, and desires continue to exist and influence the way we feel, think, and act.

What is relational about my psychotherapy approach?

It is about helping you to understand the influence of your relationship history upon who you are and where you are in life including the relationship you have with yourself.

  • What types of internal dialogues are activated for you repeatedly both within your awareness and outside of your awareness?
  • What happens in your relationships with others that you imagine within your unconscious mind as dangers that must be avoided at all costs?
  • How is your actual interpersonal life keeping you stuck feeling that these dangers are real and inevitable?

 

Relational psychodynamic psychotherapy helps you to become aware of these unconscious dangers and to create new experiences that help you internalize new lessons about how to be with yourself and with others.

I bring a multicultural perspective to all of my work. That means we will strive to be mindful of the social and cultural contexts in which you both thrive and struggle. Helping you to identify and overcome exposure to racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of bias, social exclusion, and oppression are central elements of my relational psychodynamic approach to psychotherapy.

How do you know if relational psychodynamic psychotherapy can help you?

The following questions refer to patterns of thinking and feeling that underlie and are common to the type of problems that I can help you overcome. If you recognize yourself in these questions my relational psychodynamic approach might be right for you.

Do you find yourself compelled to stay in control of your thoughts, feelings, actions, and relationships in a way that drains and constricts you? Does this way of being at times drive others away?

Are you sometimes afraid of your own thoughts and feelings?

Do you struggle with shame and guilt about your sexual thoughts and feelings?

Is it difficult to be alone with yourself? Do you sometimes feel empty and as if no one is thinking of you? As if you no longer exist?

Do you find yourself stuck in the same painful relationship patterns over and over again?

Do you struggle to express feelings of affection and love and end up regretting it?

Do you long for love, sex, friendship yet feel unable to find lasting satisfaction with others?

Do you often feel misunderstood or that others just don’t get you?

Do you generally not feel well and struggle to get your physical and emotional needs met? Do you struggle to take care of yourself?

Do you find yourself avoiding risks or procrastinating in ways that prevent achievement of important goals?

These and other real life struggles are the focus of relational psychodynamic psychotherapy. It is these sorts of difficulties that create anxiety, depression, chronic problems in relationships, and difficulties with self-confidence and goal achievement. While your mental health symptoms are important points of focus, I will not lose sight of you as a whole living person. We’ll work to understand the root of whatever problems you bring to psychotherapy so that the solutions will be long lasting.

How does relational psychodynamic psychotherapy work?

  1. A safe exploratory relationship is central to my approach to psychotherapy, allowing you to express thoughts and feelings you have trouble expressing with others, including thoughts and feelings you’ve struggled to allow yourself to fully know.
  2. I will help you to understand how current interpersonal situations and life circumstances act as unconscious reminders of painful and problematic past experiences.
  3. I will pay careful attention to how our own interactions serve as a map for understanding these internal and interpersonal experiences that keep you stuck. And we will utilize the psychotherapy relationship as a catalyst for helping you to create and practice new ways of relating that you can transfer to your life outside of therapy.
  4. I will help you to pay attention to your own train of thought, to your body, and to the images your mind conjures in an effort to empower you to know and accept yourself. If we find that attending to your mind in this way is too difficult, I will teach you meditation and mindfulness practices that you can use both in session and in your daily life.
  5. I will help you to access personal qualities and abilities that have been under developed or inhibited by anxiety and maladaptive beliefs about yourself, others, and the world.
  6. I will help you to form a more harmonious relationship between your conscious and unconscious mind so that you can begin to see possibility instead of danger. The goal is to help free you to embrace and find meaning your internal and interpersonal experiences that you can translate to making lasting life changes.