It is incredibly challenging to raise healthy children in our fast-paced society. For many families, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to relax and play together—to really slow down and develop the deep bonds of intimacy that foster a child’s sense of confidence in him- or herself and a sense of respect for others. I believe that parents give their best efforts to provide all the love and discipline necessary to help their children be successful academically and socially. It is then very difficult to watch their children struggle with things like low self-esteem, anxiety or depression, school failure, or peer rejection. It is even more painful and surprising when some children become defiant and argumentative, rejecting their parent’s values and influence over their lives.
Adolescence is a time of transition, opportunity, experimentation, and challenge. Teens find themselves in the uncomfortable position of being no-longer-children who want to be at home with their families, but not-quite-adults who have the freedom to run their own lives. Moving through this transitional stage without self-destructing requires the support of family, friends, teachers, coaches, youth-group leaders and/or community-based organizations. Some adolescents, whose emotional distress or delinquent behaviors make them at-risk for dropping out of school or harming themselves, need the additional support of mental health professionals to help them manage their unmanageable lives.
Some parents feel worn down by the continual battle with their teen and they need to be empowered and enlivened again. Other parents need help in knowing how to support their children emotionally after a trauma, loss, or other difficulty. Still others want to have better communication with their kids or to know how to motivate them to be successful in school or extra-curricular activities. In addition, it is sometimes the case that extended family members are given the responsibility of raising children whose biological parents are unable to do so. This can cause disruption in the family and difficulty with adjusting to new surroundings, rules, and relationships.
When helping families, I like to collaborate with parents (care-takers) and their children to develop an individualized plan that meets their unique needs. Along with addressing all of the presenting issues, it is also my fundamental goal to deepen the attachment bond between family members so that everyone is able to enjoy a healthy and beautiful life.
There is no doubt that maintaining a long-term relationship is challenging. In a society that is increasingly supportive of just moving on when things get difficult, it can be very difficult to get the support you need when your relationship has become stressful, unsatisfying, and painful.
When two people build a life together, it is inevitable that their individual needs will at times collide, which can cause serious misunderstandings, hurt feelings, bitterness, and resentment. This almost invariably impacts the sexual aspect of the relationship and this can compound the difficulties already in motion.
My goal in working with couples is to explore the current problems in an effort to address major breaches of trust that may have happened, to clarify misunderstandings that have led to arguments and withdrawal, and ultimately to restore positive feelings and optimal functioning in all aspects of the relationship. In addition, many people have childhood experiences that make it difficult to maintain healthy relationships today. I believe that it is possible to heal the past through addressing and healing the present difficulties. I primarily operate from an Emotion-Focused Therapy modality assuming that we all have a fundamental need for attachment to our loved ones and that when we become detached from them, we feel a variety of painful emotions and act out in self-protective and often harmful ways (Johnson, see http://www.iceeft.com/home.htm for more information on Emotion-Focused Therapy for Couples).
Because I believe in the importance of relationships, I delight in facilitating premarital counseling in order to start couples off in a the best way possible.
Despite parents’ best efforts to protect their children from painful events or difficult circumstances, sometimes the rug gets pulled out from under them and unforeseen terrible things happen. Some people experience terrible accidents that change their lives forever. Others experience abuse or neglect from people they should have been able to trust or even randomly from strangers when they were just minding their own business.
Traumatic events change people in ways that are hard to describe and yet are absolutely life changing. Many people experience symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) without even realizing it. They may become jumpy and easily startled or experience sleep difficulties like insomnia and nightmares. They may begin to feel significantly anxious or depressed, and they may obsess about the traumatic event or avoid anything that reminds them of it. Sometimes people feel fundamentally defective and struggle with self-hatred or low self esteem, poor body image and eating disorders, perfectionism and/or feel isolated in the belief that they can trust no one but themselves.
My work with people who have been traumatized, whether as a child or in adulthood, tends to be gentle and slow. I am deliberate about not re-traumatizing people and therefore tend to work at a body-level to address the ways in which the trauma has impacted physical health, interpersonal functioning, and essential self-care behaviors. I utilize a combination of body-oriented and cognitive-behavioral techniques to address the myriad symptoms that arise subsequent to trauma.
Living with depression is like trying to live under the deepest, darkest ocean where everything is heavy, dampened, and dulled. It can be difficult to enjoy things that used to bring you pleasure and it can be almost impossible to carry on with simple things like bathing, eating, and working. Some people begin to feel so hopeless that they fantasize about ending their lives.
I am passionate about helping people reconnect with themselves, their loved ones, and their hopes for a good life. I tailor my therapy to the individual in order to address the specific issues that have weighed them down and caused them such despair. From personal experience I know that people can recover from the absolute darkest places in life and I am committed to helping others discover ways to recover themselves and their dreams for a beautiful future.
It may seem strange to see Anxiety and Anger Management put in to the same category but I think they are both indications that a person needs to learn better emotion regulation skills. We are hardwired to react to difficulties or situations that seem threatening with the fight, flight, or freeze reaction. Many people suffer Anxiety symptoms when they believe they are incapable of solving the problem or handling the set of circumstances they find themselves in. Others react in anger as they experience some threat to their self esteem, their sense of safety, or their relationship with someone important. Still others find themselves freezing or withdrawing when life feels overwhelming.
When people have difficulty regulating the level of emotional reactivity (whether anxiety or anger), they can feel overwhelmed and this often leads to behaviors that cause problems for themselves and others. I believe strongly that people can learn emotion regulation skills that will eventually lead to improvements in their sense of personal wellbeing, in their relationships, in their job or school performance, and in other important areas of life.
Body image difficulties and eating disorders,
There is no doubt that our current society overemphasizes the idea that a perfect body shape and size is the key to happiness, popularity, and love. Unfortunately, 90% of the human race cannot possibly fit into the model that magazines, movies, and television portray as the perfect body. And yet, so many of us are caught in this agonizing belief that we are not worthy enough, not beautiful enough, not strong enough, not skinny enough, not good enough to be loved and accepted unless we have THAT body.
And the result? The attempt to cultivate a body that will hopefully meet approval and acceptance, but doing it in ways that result in damage to the body, to the soul, and to one’s relationships with self and others. Practices such as the use of laxatives, starvation and restriction, bingeing and purging, over exercising, strict diets, denial of pleasures, and worst of all, self-disgust and self-hatred.
I understand from personal experience the pain involved in all this. I listen to each person’s story in an attempt to help each person understand the origins of the body image problems, to create healthy coping skills, to inspire self-acceptance, and to increase self-care, and to improve relationships with significant others.
Diane Puchbauer, Psy.D. PSY 21870
Clinical Psychologist - Psychotherapy
225 N. Euclid Avenue
Upland, California 91786