Ellen Oler LCSW and client

INDIVIDUAL THERAPY:

Going for my masters in social work in 1979 was a logical step in becoming credentialed to be who I already was; my friends used to call me their "therapist" saying they found me easy to talk to, a good listener, and often able to provide valuable perspectives on issues they were facing. I love being a therapist as it allows me to do day in and day out what I love more than anything - connect deeply and genuinely with people. My therapeutic style is consistent with who I am as a person - relaxed, non-judgmental, supportive and personally open.

My theoretical orientation has evolved over my 30+ years in practice. It is based on the combined influences of Imago Therapy, Mindfulness training and practices, Family Systems Therapy, 12-Step recovery, Gestalt Therapy and Relational-Cultural Therapy.

I see the first session as a two-way street. A first therapy session is often structured this way:

Starting out this way will help us evaluate whether we may develop a successful therapeutic relationship. Some version of this process is essentially the first step in any relationship. For more help in thinking about whether I might be the right therapist for you, please see Choose the Right Therapist.

COUPLES THERAPY:

I specialize in working with couples who are at any stage of a committed relationship. I studied Imago Relationship Therapy with Harville Hendrix from 1989-91 and am a certified Imago Therapist and "Getting The Love You Want" Workshop Presenter. In Imago Therapy, the couple's relationship provides the context for healing and growth. Couples learn to understand and be understood by each other, even as differences in opinion and approaches to life's challenges may persist. Partners maintain and deepen their connection as they work through the issues that bring them to therapy.

My couples therapy has been influenced and informed by the work of John Gottman, Maya Kollman, Michael Vincent Miller, Daniel Wile, Terry Real and Jeffrey Young, and I have received training in their methods. Each couple is unique, and I am experienced at devising a course of treatment which incorporates a blend of approaches that fits each couple.

My role is that of teacher, facilitator and coach. The ultimate goal of therapy is for the couple to internalize their growth and learn tools to help them continue to grow as individuals and as a couple, in therapy and in the years beyond.

UNDERLYING BELIEFS AND PRACTICES:

I am firmly grounded in my own spiritual life, which draws from many traditions, and I strongly support a client's own spiritual path. Some come to therapy with a clearly defined spiritual tradition, some come searching, some have never considered the spiritual dimension in their lives or are not interested. I do not believe there is one "right" way: I do not seek to influence anyone in a particular direction. I do offer a safe space in which a client may feel comfortable talking about this aspect of their lives if they wish.

MINDFULNESS:

Mindfulness - the ability to follow one's intentions, developed as a habit of mind - has a profound impact on a person's physical and mental health. Studies from major medical and education institutions validate the key role of mindfulness practices in supporting people's efforts to heal from a wide range of ills: everything from depression and anxiety to illness and pain. Couples therapists - including myself - have long worked with clients to be more mindful of their reactions and in their responses to their partner.

I have had an interest in mindfulness practices for many years - dating back to my college days when meditation began gaining popularity in the West. I have my own meditation practice and have incorporated learning from many teachers in a variety of techniques and traditions. I regularly attend mindfulness retreats. I have increasingly encouraged and guided my clients in learning and using mindfulness practices to help them with everything from stress management to recovery from addiction and other dependencies.

I often start by suggesting readings and then teach simple mindfulness practices for those who are interested. And for those who are unsure, I give them gentle exposure to the benefits of mindfulness practice and encourage them to add these to the tools we use together and they use on their own to support their successful resolution of the issues we address in therapy.