People come to therapy because they are experiencing emotional pain and/or have circumstances in their lives that they are eager to change. Sometimes there's been a recent loss or crisis and other times people have been thinking for months or years about seeking help.
Whatever reasons people have for seeking therapy in NYC with me—for codependency, depression, relationships problems or anxiety—my first priority is to be an active, solid and supportive listener, providing people with a safe place to talk about what’s on their minds and what’s going on in their lives. The act of sharing what’s bothering you with an experienced and caring listener is highly valuable in itself, and it sets the tone for the personal growth work that follows.
theoretical orientationMy therapeutic approach is humanistic, person-centered and grounded in the following fundamental principles from Relational Theory and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:
All human thinking, feeling and behavior develops throughout the lifespan in the context of interpersonal relationships. Thus, helping people to become more comfortable with and skilled at forming and maintaining healthy relationships (i.e. romantic, family, friends, work colleagues, etc.) is essential for cultivating psychological/emotional health throughout our lives.
—Relational Theory and the Practice of Psychotherapy (by Paul Wachtel)
—Relational Practice in Action, a Group Manual (by Judith Jordan & Cate Dooley)
cognitive behavioral therapy
Human beings can learn to monitor and influence their own habits/patterns of thinking and behavior in ways that help them experience (1) more consistently positive moods and (2) more creative & constructive engagement in the world.
—Cognitive Therapy & the Emotional Disorders (by Aaron Beck)
—Handbook of Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (2nd edition, edited by Keith Dobson)
—Reinventing Your Life (by Jeffrey Young)
beyond theoryWhile Relational Theory and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) form the theoretical foundation for my therapeutic work, it is also my belief that there are no simple answers to life’s challenges and no single "school of thought" that eclipses all the rest. It is crucial for therapists to read widely and often, across disciplines and theoretical orientations, and to view professional learning/growth as lifelong endeavors.
If we are to help clients think for themselves and cultivate independent minds, then we therapists must do the same. Dogma or rigid adherence to any school of thought has no place in effective psychotherapy. What is primary is the building and maintenance of a therapeutic relationship that the client can use for his/her own learning and growth. Relationship building in any context is beyond theory.
the therapeutic relationship: integrating professionalism and personabilityA therapeutic relationship characterized by safety, comfort and reliability creates the context that best supports human beings to make the positive changes, internally and externally, that they desire. Thus, our professional posture as therapists must be open, down to earth, engaged and transparent. The distant and passive therapist who “just sits there” analyzing you is no longer acceptable, nor is the excessively empathetic therapist who “feels your pain” but has little else to offer in the way of guidance and direction.
As therapists we must always be increasing our skills not only in the art of listening and understanding, but also in the art of giving direct feedback and providing new perspectives that open doors of possibilities for the people we work with. In truth, there is no single school of thought that has cornered the market on that.
Chris Kingman | Therapy
156 5th Avenue (at 20th St)
New York, NY 10010