I have more than 10 years experience, helping individuals, couples, families and young people from around the world to break through their unique challenges and thrive in their everyday lives. Now, as an expat myself, I want to use this experience and some of the most modern thinking in psychology to help you and your family deal with whatever mental health issues you might be facing.
I believe our relationships determine the quality of our lives. The expectation is that we should all know intuitively how to have healthy, loving relationships, but the truth is that we don’t. We try our best, but often get stuck in cycles of conflict. Often the same pattern repeats over and over and no matter how hard you both try you can’t get out of it. It is draining and can leave you feeling defeated. As an experienced couples and family therapist I have often provided parental guidance for those who need some assistance in the demanding task of raising a well-adjusted child. I am also passionate about helping couples who decided to divorce to do so amicably and to help blended families to adjust optimally to their own unique set-up.
Living as an expat can be quite paradoxical. There is the excitement of living in another country, traveling, experiencing new cultures and on the other hand there are feelings of loss and adjustment. You are challenged to figure out a new set of rules and adjust to it. The excitement is often interwoven with frustration, anger and even depression. The exciting part takes care of itself. It is the difficulties that need attention. The isolation that often accompanies expat life can make it difficult to successfully work through the difficulties and adjust. The listening ear and expertise of a therapist who also has personally experienced expat life can help you to recalibrate in your new environment and live a fulfilling life.
As a trailing spouse you have made the (often very difficult) choice to leave your career behind to support your partner in pursuing theirs. What initially looks like an ideal opportunity to take a break (a gap year or two) or the ideal opportunity to be a full time mom/dad for your little ones often ends up in intense frustration and disillusionment. The trailing spouse is often challenged with reinventing themselves in order to have a feeling of self-actualisation. This process can be so difficult in a foreign country - especially if you also live in a country where you are either not allowed to work or where your qualifications are not recognised. Before you know it you are overcome with resentment, which can also quickly turn into feelings of depression or anxiety. A therapist can help you through the period of adjustment, working through the deep emotions which accompany what is often experienced as an identity crisis and reaching a place where you can think creatively and reinvent yourself.
Third Culture Kids
Third culture kids are children who grow up abroad in a culture different from that of their parents. It is a very unique and often difficult experience for the child. They often have a sense of alienation and feel that none of their peers fully understand them. Everywhere, they feel like the outsider often finding it difficult to to fit in. These kids normally also have a broader frame of reference than their peers which can make successful integration a challenge at an age where friendships mean everything. I can help parents to understand what their children are going through and guide them on how to guide their children through this difficult process. If needed, I can also work with the child him/herself.
Most of us experience a low to medium buzz that drives us forward and helps us to grow and improve ourselves. It also helps us see danger lurking around the corner and to plan for worst case scenarios, but for many this buzz goes beyond what we need to get things done. They have a flight/fight stress response that never switches off. Always on high alert and constantly worried. It is often accompanied by sleeplessness, heart palpitations and shortness of breath. Some even feel as if they are getting a heart attack. Anxiety in itself is a scary experience which often brings along more anxiety and before you know it you are trapped in a cycle where your anxiety triggers more anxiety which escalates your initial anxiety. It feels like impending doom. Therapy can help you to take back the control.
We live in a culture where being busy and a lack of work/life balance is worn as a badge of honour. We feel the pressure to work harder and to achieve more. To be the best that we can possibly be. This often results in feeling emotionally overwhelmed, drained and unable to meet demands. Burnout is often also accompanied by physical exhaustion and illness. Therapy can help you to manage your stress and exhaustion, re-evaluate your life and creating a more balanced and meaningful life.
I often tell my clients that to love is to know pain. The one cannot go without the other. This love may be interpersonal or material. The pain that is linked to love can take many forms - like disappointment, loss, resentment and anger. It can easily take us into a downward spiral where we lose hope and feel helpless. We lose energy to live and very quickly our world is shrouded in constant darkness. I know that if this is you, you probably feel that it is impossible to turn this process around. But I can also tell you that it is possible to experience relief and to find hope again.
Our self-esteem is formed through the feedback we receive about ourselves as we grow up, both as direct messages and indirectly through what we achieve. When we receive shaming messages a sense of not being good enough starts to build in us. This quickly escalates into feeling shameful, doubting yourself and results in overall low self-esteem. Low self-esteem and lack of confidence make it extremely difficult to know what you need and to be assertive about those needs, which in turn make it very difficult to experience fulfilling relationships. In my clinical practice I have found hypnotherapy to be a quick and effective therapeutic technique to help clients to build their self-esteem, to discover what they want and to be assertive about the fulfillment of their needs. Research supports the use of hypnotherapy in dealing with self-esteem related complaints.
Most people, when thinking about psychological trauma, think about natural or man-made disasters, abuse, physical assault and rape. However, losing your job, going through a divorce, relocating to another country or losing a loved one can also all be emotionally traumatic events. Any event that you subjectively experience as threatening and potentially life altering - attacking your core feelings of being safe in this world - can be regarded as traumatic. These events often leave us feeling numb initially and shortly after we can experience many different emotional, physical and social symptoms that prevents us from functioning optimally and living our life fully. I use either EMDR or hypnotherapy to help clients to process traumatic events and to reach a new level of effective functioning. Both these methods have been shown through research to be effective in resolving trauma.