Individual Psychotherapy 

My clinical practice is integrative and informed by an existential-humanistic approach which focuses on processing the individual’s lived experience and facilitates the understanding and regulation of emotional responses. Existential themes are often focused on in my practice and I have a strong interest in attachment theory, therefore a focus on relationship patterns in adulthood and childhood. Rather than using a standardised approach, I prefer to adapt my work to meet each client's unique needs and presenting issues.

Possible Areas of Work:

To have better interpersonal relationships: often people experience psychological distress and despair because they struggle to form or maintain satisfying interpersonal relationships. Our relationships are extremely important for our sense of well-being: they define who we are and how we feel about ourselves. Unfortunately, there are times when unresolved issues from our past can negatively influence the way we relate to our loved ones; we may, without being aware, project feelings we had for meaningful people who hurt us in the past onto the people who are close to us right now, creating conflict and separation.

Therapy can make a real difference and help people who are experiencing distress in their relationship because it offers a space outside of the relationship to explore those painful feelings in a safe place and make sense of the negative dynamic that gets created with their partner. Once more awareness is gained, it is easier for the client to start relating to their partner differently and break dysfunctional cycles.

To come to terms with bereavement or loss:  each story of loss - be it because of the death of a loved one or because of the end of a relationship - is different and painful in its own way and it is important that it has a space to be told. Unfortunately in our society death and loss are still a taboo subject for many and if you are grieving the loss of someone close to you, you may find that it is not easy to talk about your loss openly and to express your emotions, as people around you feel increasingly uncomfortable with the issue and expect you to be ‘ok’ after a certain time. However, trying to be ‘ok’ before you are actually ready can make things worse in the long term. If the natural grieving process is stopped prematurely, the suppressed emotions may come back to the surface later in form of depression or anxiety.

In the sessions I will help you work through your grief and we may also explore some coping mechanisms to help you when you are on your own. You will have a safe, private space to come to terms with your loss and process all the feelings arising from this life-changing event, as grief often involves a progression of different emotions and reactions that include shock and/or numbness, anxiety, anger and sadness, all experienced in a uniquely personal way and often very difficult for people around to completely understand.  

To overcome trauma:  whether it’s a traumatic memory from childhood that is still haunting or a more recent event that is affecting you, processing the traumatic memory in the safety of the consulting room will allow you to slowly integrate the memory so that it no longer holds that power over you.

To better cope with anxiety:  we all share certain conscious or unconscious anxieties. Personal values and goals aren’t always straightforward and at certain stages in life we may experience a painful bewilderment and anxiety of not knowing what direction to take. I will help you examine the roots of some of your anxieties. By gaining a deeper understanding of such anxieties clients usually find that they can better cope with them.

To increase self-awareness and develop a more reflective stance towards life:  we often make decisions based on pressure and influence from society, family, and friends instead of listening to our own needs and desires. As a consequence there may be inner conflicts, unhappiness, and feelings of powerlessness. Using an existential approach, I will help you become more truthful with yourself and authentic in the choices you make.

To be able to take responsibility for decisions: through an existential analysis of your current situation and life choices, I aim to help you develop a better sense of how you are the author of your life, to become more aware of the different choices available to you, your freedom to make decisions, and to reflect on the consequences of your actions for yourself and the people around you.

To overcome depression and find personal meaning:  unfortunately a sense of emptiness and meaninglessness are quite pervasive problems in our society. They lead to despair, great psychological discomfort, destructive activities and addictions. My task is to help you uncover meaning in your life, even when life means painful experiences and crises, through deep personal reflection and subsequent action. I will pay attention to your emotions, beliefs, and talents, and encourage you to find your own meanings and truths.


SOME INTERESTING BOOKS TO READ WHILE IN THERAPY:

Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy, by Irvin Yalom  

Momma and The Meaning of Life. Tales of Psychotherapy, by Irvin Yalom

Psychotherapy and The Quest for Happiness, by Emmy Van Deurzen

Tales of Unknowing: Therapeutic Encounters from an Existential Perspective, by Ernesto Spinelli

On facing death anxiety:

Staring at the Sun, by Irvin Yalom

On parenting:

Parenting from the Inside Out, by Daniel J Siegel and Mary Hartzell

On relationships:

Hold Me Tight by Dr Sue Johnson (excellent help for relationship problems)

The Love Secret by Dr Sue Johnson (another great book to help you make sense of intimate relationships and couples issues)

Attached, by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller (to gain insight into attachment styles and how they influence our relationships)

A General Theory of Love, by Thomas Lewis et al (fascinating book about love, brain functions and emotional life written by three psychiatrists)

On depression:

The Mindful Way Through Depression, by M. Williams and J. Teasdale (self-help book for dealing with depression using mindfulness and meditation)

On meaning:

Meanings Of Life, by R. Baumeister (quite a scholarly book that stimulates thoughts on what may give meaning to our life)

Self-development:

Mindsight by Daniel J Siegel


© Mila Palma