Dr. Stephen’s practice is grounded in psychodynamic theory, which is one of the many theories and approaches in psychology. Psychodynamic theory suggests that our behaviours and emotions are driven by our conscious and unconscious motivations and intentions.
In simple language this means Dr. Stephen believes that our behaviours are based on a combination of what we consciously decide to do (e.g., goals, objectives, plans) and our unconscious drives (e.g., wishes, impulses, anxieties). The unconscious drives are rooted in our childhood experiences with positive and negative experiences influencing how our personality unfolds.
Dr. Stephen also believes that our personalities are shaped by the deep relationships we have with our parents, siblings, and significant friends. While childhood experiences anchor our personality development, the evolution of our personality is shaped by these significant relationships as we go through life. A challenge of these influential relationships is that as we are shaped by these significant individuals, we are constantly struggling to achieve our unique sense of individuality. Individuality refers to how we perceive ourselves and our self esteem, the boundaries we set in our relationships, and how differentiate ourselves from others. For example, in a marriage, one spouse will have expectations of how the relationship functions but each spouse has personal needs that may conflict with the relationship functions.
In working with clients, Dr. Stephen sees people for the unique individuals they are. Every individual has a unique history, unique experiences, and unique characteristics. The only way to fully understand an individual is to understand the personal life context that has given way to the person’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.
While his primary orientation is psychodynamic, Dr. Stephen is also trained in CBT (Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy) and DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy). These approaches involve providing psychological education along with specific skills that help individuals change their thoughts and behaviours to reduce or overcome psychological problems.
Dr. Stephen is comfortable integrating both the psychodynamic and CBT/DBT approaches as they each offer unique and complementary benefits for clients. CBT/DBT is a set of tools to help reduce psychological symptoms where as the psychodynamic approach examines the underlying life factors that might contribute to the problems. With the two approaches, immediate symptoms can be alleviated and insight into one’s identity and relationship patterns can be provided in a way that fosters a deeper self-awareness.
In practice, Dr. Stephen integrates a number of other approaches that best accommodate the needs of the client(s).