Herman & Associates: Theoretical Orientation

My theoretical orientation is not easy to describe because it is a culmination of all my readings and experiences in psychology, research, education, child development, and philosophy.  At the heart, I am a developmentalist who works with children, adolescents, and adults.  I tend to conceptualize cases from a complex model that incorporates family history, birth and developmental history, psychosocial history, academic history, medical history, and psychiatric history. I believe in the premise of the psychodynamic model that early childhood relationship experiences are very powerful and initially shape who we are and how we approach the world.  I believe that chronic unstable or inconsistent parenting greatly impacts an individual's ability to trust themselves and others, and form deep meaningful interpersonal connections with others.  While parents have the greatest impact on the formulation of self and object relations, I have seen that healing and stabilizing experiences can come from a variety of other sources (e.g., other family members, teachers, mentors, coaches, significant others, therapists). 

My therapy and interventions commonly involve simultaneous processing of content and process, the resolution of inner conflicts and unprocessed emotions, and the aligning of both thoughts and emotions.  I believe in forming strong working relationships with clients, encouraging insight and self-awareness, validating the client's beliefs and perceptions, and working together to understand how change needs to occur from an empathic, but sometimes confronting position.  As clients evolve through this process and gain greater confidence and independence, I work to encourage their transition and emotional independence.  I promote the success attributes described in our, and others' research.

In working with children, I believe that the most powerful interventions come from a team approach.  I usually prefer working in a multidisciplinary team model and often collaborate with other professionals.  For example, when working with children I may initially conduct a classroom observation and teacher interview to gain a first-hand understanding of my client's functioning in the classroom.  I work with clients to choose the best therapeutic format (e.g., individual, family, conjoint) to match client's particular needs and goals.