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  • Writer's pictureMatt Brennan

Core Philosophies

Therapists are guided in their work by several factors, including: training, orientation, their own personal and professional experiences, and each therapist's unique style and personality. It can also be helpful to know a therapist's core philosophies. When you're thinking about beginning work with a therapist, this is often a useful question to ask.


Core philosophies can say a lot about how a therapist will think through the helping process, what they will bring to the work with you, and the issues they tend to do well with. My core philosophies are trauma-informed and resilience-focused.


Trauma-informed means I tend to focus on understanding what perspectives and self-protections got built when a person had to deal with pain and fear without the support, skill, language, and understanding they needed. Whether this was an overwhelming assault or years and years of chronic, repetitive hurt, I think it's important to explore how my clients coped-- what particular and unique ways did a client manage, and keep themselves alive and doing some version of "on-track"? And, what did those solutions cost? What does a person give up or get habituated to before they even realize what's happening? Working through a more informed and intentional understanding of that background can be enormously helpful to clients.


It is also important to note here the difference between "trauma-informed" and "trauma-competent." A trauma-informed approach can be very helpful to many clients in many circumstances. Clients with trauma looking to work through trauma tend to be helped best by a clinician who is trauma-competent. This means a clinician who has specific training and skill in helping a client take on and complete a stabilization and working-through process. I'm a trauma-competent as well as a trauma-informed clinician. If you're working on trauma recovery goals, please feel free to reach out if you'd like to discuss working together.


Resilience-focused means I deeply believe that all people are trying to find a way to reach the best version of their potential. As much as I help people get a sense of where they come from and what happened to them, I also focus on helping people discover their strengths and grow forward to more satisfying skills, successes, and relationships. There are two important things to know about resilience: First, it is not an inborn trait. Resilience is absolutely something that anyone can do, and it is based on how well how are attending to the various facets of your life. Second, resilience is something that can be learned (through a process called "inoculation.") Every moment in your life that is hard and feels impossible is also a moment to learn something you will never forget. Our pains also give us gifts that become ours, that no one can ever take away. If you'd like to learn more about how to do this, let's talk!


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