Sean McDonald, LPCC
I am a licensed psychoanalytic psychotherapist, mental health therapist and drug and alcohol counselor. Through over a decade of working with people who are suffering from various issues, anxiety, depression, addiction, personality disorders and psychosis, I have developed an approach to the work that attempts to enable my patients to recognize, understand and, through the act of speech, bring to light the ways that self-limiting beliefs have shaped the way they interact in and with the world around them. This work goes on outside of the therapy session and will inform how you feel and see the changes occurring in their everyday life.
I began my clinical work in Ireland, working in a variety of settings, from substance abuse treatment centers to community mental health centers and psychiatric hospitals, along with a small private practice. I gained my training academically in psychoanalytic therapy and my practicum in behavior therapy, cognitive analytic therapy and analytic work. Through this experience and exposure, I have gained a different style of working than most of my compatriots in America.
I have over twelve years of experience in working closely with clients who have suffered in various ways in their lives and have always worked toward developing self-compassion. Understanding and forgiving ourselves is an important part of this process. Sometimes we are our harshest critic. Let me help you to be kinder to yourself and live a better life.
How I Work
There is no single method of therapy that works for all. I have been trained in analytic therapy, behavior therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy and call my approach a cognitive analytic therapeutic method. I use this method to tackle issues of anxiety and depression, resolve trauma and develop healthier and more satisfying relationships.
What all of these approaches have in common is that they enable you to see in the here and now and, with a little help from me, how the past and the beliefs that have been born from these formative experiences have shaped our world view, not only of the outside but of ourselves too and our capabilities. What I try to do is to get you to separate out from these beliefs, really look at them, understand why you have these ways of seeing things and how you can change them without changing your essential characteristics, the ones that are good and that you want to hold onto. I aim to have you see yourself in a non-judgmental way, an accepting way, and a way that enables you to become the person you want to be and have the connections with those you love in the world be fulfilling.
I primarily approach the work as a partner, offering impressions from the first encounter. This is a progressive and beneficial way to work as it develops the relationship immediately as different to a usual relationship. Here, we can be free to explore the vagaries of our actions and feelings, develop an understanding of our defenses, ones that don’t serve us so well anymore and begin to find a new way to relate to ourselves, understanding how we’ve suffered in life and accepting how we’ve changed from the children we once were.
In session, I am an active therapist as I believe this assists the clients with seeing how they are getting in the way of their own progress and stated desires. I am engaged and open, working closely with the client to develop an understanding of the motivations for their behavior and the way they think. By looking beyond the thinking, getting underneath to the emotional motivation, we can begin to bring conscious awareness to the “why” of our behavior. Once this is done, we can then change our choices in the future. This process is not always easy but by developing a strong bond built on trust and caring, a therapeutic bond we can create a future that you desire and are happy to be in and move toward.
Particularly, when working with substance abuse in therapy, I look at the use of the drug or alcohol, not as the cause but a reaction or defense against something else. When we are thinking of addiction, we should always remember that a-diction, is a non-speech, an inability to put into speech our experiences. The user has gained a way of getting satisfaction immediately, without interference, and a way that, like all defenses stops working with us and begins to work against our well-being. It is the work of therapy to begin to speak to this satisfaction and that thing that needed satisfying. It is through this that the process of recovery, true recovery begins.
I also utilize motivational interviewing and acceptance and commitment therapy. With acceptance and commitment therapy, I consider where the patient is, where they want to be and how they get to there. We work through these difficulties and arrive at a place where the client knows if they want to proceed and with the means to go toward it.
Psychoanalytic therapy is a generally longer, but a rewarding approach to understanding why we do and how to not keep doing it. There is no doubt that repetition plays a hugs part in everyone’s life. Why is this so, why do we return to this familiar, this discomfort? Analytic therapy offers a route to understanding this, and by so doing giving one another option for the next time, and the time after that.