I work with people experiencing a wide variety of presenting problems and issues. The following list is by no means complete. It is intended only to give you a brief introduction to the way I think about example issues. If you are curious about what I have written about an issue, or don't see one you would like to work on give me a call. Let's talk about it.
Note: First Responders read the last paragraph below.
Lack of community, economic uncertainty, changing nuclear families, and a sense that the future is rushing at us often cause us to worry about what will happen to us. I provide work on both mind/body interventions to reduce the effects of anxiety, and efforts to understand its deeper causes.
Anxiety and depression are such good buddies that it is often hard to tell them apart, and one can trigger the other. I hate TV commercials that blame depression on "a chemical imbalance in the brain". While medicine is sometimes an important part of treatment, I believe that depression can also be triggered by difficult or oppressive life circumstances.
Healthy relationships are the foundation for feeling secure. A sense of "belonging" is important to all of us. Maintaining and developing rewarding relationships is not as straightforward and easy as it sometimes seems. Slightly conflicting communication styles, cultural differences, and even slightly different family of origin values can make relationships difficult. We most often think of "significant other" relationships, although these problems can occur with employees, co-workers, in-laws, even friends. While communications skills are very important, and I teach them often, I think that differences in the way we see the world can be even more important to explore. Please note that couples of all races, cultures, and orientations are welcome in my practice. Please see my Couples Counseling page for more information.
Anger is a useful tool: it motivates us to change painful situations in our life. However, our reactions to feelings of anger can sometimes invite us to interact with others in ways that are not helpful. The first goal in learning to use anger productively is to be able to identify it before it gets out of control. Next we identify productive reactions and slowly practice implementing them.
Life happens. Marriage, changes in employment, births, graduations, divorce, death, relocation: each life transition has the potential for bringing joy and growth, as well as anxiety, stress, and sadness. We forget that even the joy and growth can also be stressful. Therapy can help to make each of these transitions meaningful and manageable.
When demands from the environment exceed an individual's resources, stress is an inevitable result. Research has established a clear connection between stress and physical health. Mind-body interventions, and lifestyle changes can not only relieve stress, but increase your productivity and quality of life.
Grief is a normal reaction to loss. Grief is a natural process, and ordinarily does not require intervention. Occasionally grief becomes prolonged, or reduces an individual's functioning. Understanding what to expect and integrating the experience of loss into your changed life can be helpful.
Both men and women are constrained by narrow definitions of gender, and rigid gender roles. Many of my clients benefit from working to break free of stereotyped gender restrictions.
Men: While we are used to thinking that gender roles are harmful to women, current research indicates that they are equally destructive to us. The study of men and masculinity was my dissertation topic and remains a special interest of mine. The language of psychotherapy is often at odds with the demands of masculinity. My treatment of men is consistent with their needs, and honors masculine ways of being and modes of communication. For more information see my page on men's issues.
Women: I believe that traditional gender roles are killing all of us. Understanding the role of power in relationships, the political aspects of therapy, and working to empower people through healing conversations are all very important parts of the work I do. Working toward an egalitarian relationship in therapy is a good place to begin.
In addition to having a private practice I once worked as a consulting psychologist to an eating disorder clinic. My experience there, and at University Counseling Centers leaves me well qualified to treat eating disorders. Please note that eating disorders can have serious medical consequences. In some cases I will refer you to a higher level of care.
Dr. Eicken worked at two different residential addiction clinics in Malibu California, and then as the clinical director of outpatient services at an addiction recovery organization in San Rafael California. While self help groups (such as 12 step programs) are very valuable and are sufficient for some people seeking recovery, others want to add a professional component.
I am very familiar with the lives and issues facing first responders. I understand the special confidentiality needs, and pressures of being on the front line in service to the public. I learned about these issues from personal experience, not out of a book. If you are a first responder, and are interested in counseling, I would like an opportunity to talk to you.
Iverson M. Eicken, Ph.D. Psychologist
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