Annette Poizner, MSW, Ed.D., Registered Social Work
The Tools, the Tactics, the Technique
Here's an interesting rule of thumb.
Any disruptive symptom may be a problem but is never the problem. Symptoms are actually the unconscious mind's attempt to solve another problem, hidden from view, but effectively managed by seemingly unproductive patterns of thinking, feeling or behaving. The key, then, is to identify the root problem and solve that. Tenacious symptoms often fade away when their raison d'etre is no more.
Surprisingly, sometimes looking at some dreams that you wake up with and memories of the past may point us to a root problem that has been hidden from awareness. Using a map of the psyche that comes to us from Chinese philosophy, I can often garner insight into the root dynamics that need to be addressed, then use brief therapy methods to target change by developing resources within both the conscious and the unconscious. We work to reconfigure those mechanisms which had previously maintained the symptom.
In some cases, I've had success with clients who suffered from tenacious obsessive-compulsive conditions and other confounding mental health problems. More generally, I specialize in work with difficult conditions which have not been responsive to standard psychotherapy or drug therapies.
My model and techniques are derived from the work of psychiatrist Milton H. Erickson, M.D. and are strongly influenced by the psychology of Carl Jung, Milton Erickson and Ken Wilber, and that of Traditional Chinese Medicine. I also use EMDR and NLP techniques in my work, as well as techniques from Internal Family Systems work. And I am informed by the ways nutrition and lifestyle factors effect mental health, often over-looked variables which will make or break a successful recovery.
My work is technical, and I often liken it to Pilates, a type of exercise which targets very specific goals, depending on the muscular patterns that characterize any given individual. The task is to look 'under the hood', assess the various component parts that characterize a fully developed psyche and determine which are amply developed, which are over-developed and overused, which are undeveloped, and then to remediate imbalances, using interventions which target both the conscious mind and the unconscious mind.
As we go along, we collect dreams, postcards from the heart of hearts, to get feedback how we are doing. This work may help you forge a deeper connection to the essential nature that lurks in the inner depths, an anchor and inner compass that leads you productively forward.
"What do dreams and childhood memories tell us about ourselves?"
People are fundamentally expressive of who they are, which means that a person's intrinsic patterns may be expressed in the dreams that they wake up with (or have had over the course of life) or the childhood memories that they retain. Accessing a handful of your earliest memories can be illuminating, and potentially give us food for thought: looking at your dreams or gathering childhood memories, we will find patterns, ways you have conceptualized yourself or beliefs that have hardened into a set worldview.
Looking at personal material of this sort can give us insight into your personality style, talents, personal issues and even shine light on a blind spot or two. as we, together, tease through your influences and patterned ways of seeing the world and get ideas about how to move forward in new ways. This process is insight-oriented, also behavioural.
When is this kind of work useful?
Sometimes a person is looking for help with a longstanding challenge; other times, just looking for insight. I look at problems using a wide lens; I'm interested in the ways nutrition effects how we feel and act, Chinese medical theory informs our understanding of personal challenges and cognitive processing sometimes effects social and psychological function. In other words, I also think about the big picture and this can be a moment to think about life style issues, as they affect mental health.