I believe that effective therapy requires a thorough assessment and accurate understanding of a client’s challenges, resources, inner world and external environment. Such an assessment will ultimately lead to appropriate and beneficial therapy goals. In my view, mutual responsibility and respect between client and therapist are essential features of effective therapy.
It is my belief that people can change at any stage in their lives, but it is important to acknowledge that we can’t always change everything we wish to change about ourselves. An important goal of therapy is to acknowledge our limitations while choosing to make realistic changes and persist with these changes over time from an internal stance of self-acceptance and self-respect.
As a psychologist who works with people who struggle with obesity, I do not believe that we are completely “in charge of our weight” or that all we have to do is “take charge” and “exercise willpower”. Such statements are simplistic and unhelpful. I believe that each person has been endowed with a unique genetic make-up, biology, and temperament and lives in his or her own specific family, social and cultural environment. Nonetheless, at times people do get fixated and stuck in maladaptive thinking styles that lead to emotional turmoil and harmful behaviors or habits. It is important to recognize such patterns and make changes that will enable us to live our lives in a manner that is congruent with our values and goals.
I am not a dietician and I am not a weight loss coach, although I collaborate with professionals in hospitals and in the community. As I myself have struggled with a propensity for weight gain and obesity since childhood, I understand many of the challenges involved in leading a healthy and balanced lifestyle during this époque of abundance on one hand alongside a culture obsessed with unrelenting standards and pressures to be thin. I do not promote asceticism nor do I advocate thinness. I believe it is important to lead a balanced lifestyle that contributes to health and quality of life. As a therapist, I aspire to help people live a life that from their perspective is worth living.
One of the concepts that I have emphasized over time is the concept of “sovereign eating and living”. We are responsible for the choices we make and for ensuing consequences. I believe my role in the therapeutic relationship is to help people become more mindful of their inner worlds, develop clear and realistic definitions of their values and goals, and acquire the necessary skills to live a life that is congruent with their unique set of values and goals.