Marty's counseling practice is currently closed. Marty will post an announcement when he resumes accepting new patients.
Introduction to Counseling & Psychotherapy
How often do we wonder, "Why can’t I shake this nervousness or sadness?" or "Do I have to take these sleeping pills for the rest of my life?" Our intentions are good – we want to feel better – but the methods we are using often do not provide us the results we hope they would. Dr. Marty Cottler provides counseling and psychotherapy sessions that address these issues:
A primary theme of our civilization’s ancient healing traditions is the quest for harmony and wellness. Since ancient Grecian and Biblical times, many forms of counseling and psychotherapy have addressed this quest. In our modern era, there are different types of counseling and psychotherapy. What are general differences between these two healing disciplines?
Counseling – Working With Our Surface Problems
Psychotherapy: A Deeper Exploration
Here is another example: what if you cannot easily fall asleep? Prescribed sleeping pills are helping a little, but you do not like the side effects of the medication. You might try other methods to fall asleep, such as relaxation strategies, but you discover these do not help and you do not understand why.
During psychotherapy, we carefully and safely explore what else might be going on in the background of your life-experience that could interfere with your falling asleep. You may be having worrisome thoughts about a loved one who is ill, or you may have a recurrent pain in your back that won’t let you relax enough to rest, and so on.
We begin putting together new strategies once we discover the pattern below the surface that might be contributing to the problem – in this example, not falling asleep. What other methods could you use to address your worries about your loved one that would help you to feel more at rest when going to sleep? One method that could help is to discuss your concerns about your loved one – safely sharing your feelings including your normal fears, your grief. Safely facing our fears and expressing our grief can have the effect of reducing worry and can help us rest at night.
How else could you relate to, and manage your pain so it will not get in the way as much when falling asleep? Exploring our pain is not easy, which is why we usually develop personal tension and other "negative” emotions like frustration, resentment or hopelessness when pain grabs a hold of us. At these times, it can be very helpful to learn what I term, "active acceptance” – not resignation. We develop the capacity to accept the pain that is there even while we work to reduce it through medical treatment. The work of "active acceptance” involves recognizing when and how we react to the physical pain with personal distress in the form of tension, and so on. Once we recognize our reactions, we start to see that our experience is not only of the physical pain, but also includes our personal suffering. In fact, our personal suffering can make the pain worse as we tighten muscles around inflamed nerves, and so forth.
At this point, we focus on safely softening and reducing our personal reactions that cause suffering. We can then better manage the pain because our personal suffering is no longer a strong problem of its own. Oftentimes, we then feel more in control, more relaxed, and sometimes, depending on our pain condition, we can break or change the pain cycle.
Identifying hidden personal obstacles that contribute to our problems, and changing how we relate with these obstacles can oftentimes make the original problem more manageable. Sometimes, as in our hypothetical sleep example, the original problem that was on the surface can go away.
Depth Psychotherapy – Rediscovering Our "Self”
What has this to do with psychotherapy? "Psychotherapy” is a modern term derived from this ancient Greek word, psyche plus therapeia, which is translated as, "service”, "nurse” or "cure, heal”. Depth psychotherapy is the experience of healing our self.
In our modern lives, we frequently place to the side our deeper connection with our sense of self. Family, work, finances – the stresses and strains of modern life – lead us to cover over our deeper inclinations and quests. Depth psychotherapy intentionally focuses on an exploration of the deeper meanings in our lives – our search for purpose and fulfillment beyond our normal desires to attain sufficient security, prosperity, and enjoyment. The experience of depth psychotherapy includes seeking to develop a day-to-day life-style that manifests values such as truth, beauty, goodness, wholeness, unity, aliveness, uniqueness, perfection, justice, order, simplicity, effortlessness, playfulness. A central purpose of a depth psychotherapy experience is to help us consciously reconnect with these sacred qualities that comprise the essence of "I”.
Integrating Counseling & Psychotherapy
Dr. Marty Cottler is a licensed psychotherapist in California (Ca Lic MFT No 6833).