Michelle Allison LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Individual and Family Psychotherapy for
Adults, Adolescents and Couples
The format of therapy
I describe myself as a mental health generalist. That means I work in a way similar to that of a medical family practitioner, treating people of various ages. For me that includes children starting at about age ten, adolescents and adults. If you have concerns not noted above, please feel free to discuss these with me. Professional ethics requires that I refer to someone else if I know I lack the specific expertise for a particular problem, or to another level of care if outpatient treatment is not clinically appropriate.
I offer individual and family therapy. Although I have additional formal training in family and couples therapy, I also have significant experience working individually as well. The choice between the two is based on the specific details of the problem. Often there is a combination of both family and individual work. Even more frequently individual therapy addresses the fallout of childhood experience in one's current adult life. Flexibility is the key, as well as tailoring the treatment to the specific circumstances and preferences of each client(s). Because each of us is imbedded in a wider familial context, it often makes sense to work with a family or a couple at least some of the time. Most individual issues spill over into one’s intimate relationships.
For those my clientswho are are couples: the term “marital” therapy seems outdated. Couples can include married, unmarried, same sex, opposite sex, gender non-conforming—the only criterion is that there is an intimate, emotional relationship that partners want to work on. There are sometimes good reasons also to include some individual sessions in couples work.
Family therapy is often utilized for child-centered or inter generational problems. The assumption I make is that the parents of child with emotional or behavioral problems would want to be substantially involved in whatever treatment is recommended. Parents are far more emotionally important to their children than any therapist could be, no matter how personable or clever. A common goal of family therapy is to improve the emotional relationships between a child and parents. Other aspects of family therapy may be geared toward parenting skills or psycho education about child management.
There is a place for individual work with school age children and adolescents. How well this will go depends greatly on whether child or adolescent buys into talk therpy--which is a rather adult-like activity. The focus can involve building up some specific skills to deal with a particular stressor or problems (divorce, ADHD, anxiety, depression, trauma, abuse, grief).
About My Practice
Divorce, remarriage, blended families
Grief and loss
Obsessive compulsive disorder
PTSD, trauma and abuse
Substance abuse, addictions
Suicide; self injurious behavior
Some guiding ideas I like, in no particular order of importance
Give yourself permission to show up for therapy as exactly the person you are at that present moment: there is no preferred version of yourself that need appear.
If you do show up consistently and are present in therapy, you will likely make changes despite your initially sceptical outlook.
Figuring out who we are (Identity formation) is a central task of being human: the more authentic the identity the better the life we live.
Acceptance is not resignation or "settling": the skill is to know when acceptance is wise and therefore, affirming
Practicing mindfulness is paying attemtion to the present moment without judgement--more difficult to do than might first appear--especially the judgement part of it; corollary: awareness is the essential first step toward growth or change.
Avoidance of aversive experience, although understandable, is often self defeating; therfore,lean into your experience and spend time with it irrespective of its quality.
Always respect the limits of our imagination; it's very difficult to imagine something that you've never had any direct experience of; that said, an important goal is to find ways to move beyond those limits.
The fundamental fabric of our culture and experience is based on "doing" and making disctinctions or judgements. Yet a balaced life includes spaces and times where simply "being" and non judgement have primacy.
Finding ways to reconcile seemingly polar opposites (so-called "dialectical dilemas) helps us out of being "stuck" in dead end emotional pathways.
We often cast off or leave behind important aspects of ourselves, while preserving others which serve us less well. Reclamation of these cast-off parts of us can be re-invigorating.
Often we unthinkingly elimnate options for action without even seeing them as possible options: expand your field of vision, move outside the box.
Beware a view of the world as a zero sum game: the notion that there are finite and limited amounts of what we all need: that someone else's gain is my loss or disadvantage. Corollary: we can always generate positive emotion based on our inherent human capacity for compassion and good will.
Issues I Work With