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Treatment Approach

 I provide individual therapy from childhood through adulthood and into the senior years.


 My treatment style is eclectic, an approach that integrates a variety of therapy methods into a seamless treatment plan that addresses the client's presenting problems, history, and goals.  Within this eclectic approach there are a few methods that I use frequently.  Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is the gold standard for brief, solution-focused treatment.  In the course of CBT, we examine how distorted thoughts and beliefs affect emotions and behavior, creating negative cycles of functioning, depression, and anxiety.   CBT aims to challenge and replace distorted beliefs and thoughts with reality based ones.  An example of a distorted belief  would be, "I have to do everything perfectly." Such a belief leads to feelings of anxiety, moodiness, irritability and maladaptive behaviors, such as procrastination, decreased productivity, and problems at work, school, and home.  


Often, I find that clients have a deep desire to understand the source of their beliefs and self-narratives. Exploring the childhood roots of such beliefs, the context of early life relationships, and the family dynamics while growing up is the work of psychodynamic therapy.  Research findings show that changing maladaptive pattern of thought woven into the fabric of one's life leads to deeper and longer lasting results from therapy.  

As a lifespan psychologist, I consider the impact of life experiences on a person's early development. According to Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development, there are 8 stages of development in the course of life, from infancy to old age.  Each stage has its own demands and challenges.  When demands in one stage are managed successfully, we move to the next stage, which leads to the development of a healthy personality with strong sense of autonomy, trust, identity, self-confidence, authenticity, productivity, and integrity. When the demands of a stage are not resolved successfully because of  stress and trauma, we have trouble moving forward successfully and experience feelings of shame, self-doubt, confusion, distrust, hopelessness, being stuck.  Thus, understanding the impact of stress on development becomes one of the goals of therapy, regardless of the treatment modality we use.

Research also shows that therapy changes how the brain works and which brain circuits and structures are activated during the process. What the mind thinks and what actions we engage in literally change the brain circuits.  As we address issues in therapy, we constantly refer to underlying brain functions and we work on rewiring brain circuits associated with maladaptive behaviors and thoughts.  Knowledge of how the brain functions empowers us to set up new circuits that alter the path of client's lives and enables them to achieve their goals.

Dana Watts, Ph.D.


“If you want to know the end, look at the beginning.”     Eastern European proverb

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