I have been a practicing psychotherapist for more than thirty years, and have extensive experience with almost every kind of problem, symptoms or circumstance that typically bring people to see a psychologist or psychiatrist. If and when psychiatric medications might be useful in conjunction with psychotherapy, I refer my patients to one of several colleagues in Beverly Hills for an expert psychopharmacological evaluation. For some mental disorders, research and my own clinical experience indicate that the right combination of psychotherapy and medication can be more effective than either one by themselves. But for others, psychotherapy alone may be sufficient treatment, and superior to pharmacological treatment only. Psychiatric medications, while frequently helpful and often additionally recommended, are, in my view, secondary to psychotherapy--where the real healing happens. I am skeptical of treatment approaches that tend to emphasize biochemistry and neurology over psychology, brevity over depth, comfort over consciousness, cognition over emotion, suppression of feelings over constructive expression and integration, adjustment or "normalcy" over authenticity, passion and creativity.

Psychotherapy is not about suppressing, masking or covering up feelings or symptoms with techniques or medications--though at times this may be temporarily needed. It is more about acknowledging and confronting one's metaphorical demons, and, when necessary, learning to live with them. It is not merely about becoming better adjusted socially, but as much about mustering the courage to be who one uniquely is in the world. It is not about attempting to avoid all of life's suffering, but rather learning to willingly accept and live with it to some extent. Psychotherapy is at least as much about acceptance--of one's self, one's history, one's feelings, one's demons, thoughts and impulses--as it is about change. Only when we find the courage to embrace reality as it is--including the existential facts of suffering, sorrow, loneliness, fate, finitude and mortality--accepting life on its own terms, will we be free to make it more meaningful, fulfilling, loving and creative. This is also the true essence of spirituality--which is, for me, an inseparable and essential aspect of psychotherapy.

"Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering."-- C. G. Jung
"The task of the therapist is to conjure up the devils rather than put them to sleep." -- Rollo May