Dr. Ryan Wilson does occasionally work with couples, but the majority of his clients are individuals. His primary approach to individual psychotherapy is informed by Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP). The basic understanding of mental health disorders from an ISTDP perspective is this:
Human beings are social creatures. As such, our relationships, our attachments are critical to our health. Sometimes attachment bonds are damaged by things like loss of a loved one, abuse, or separation from parents as just a few examples. Damage to those attachments often trigger many emotions including love, grief, anger, and guilt. These emotions are either worked through and released or avoided and blocked up.
We might have learned to avoid unwanted feelings by becoming tense and worrying (anxiety), fearful of social situations (social anxiety), becoming hopeless and self-critical (depression), becoming physically ill (migraines, heartburn, upset stomach), or turning to addiction (drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc).
Events later in life, such as divorce or death of a parent can often re-trigger old memories and the blocked up emotions connected to those old events. When we are faced with having to deal with the mixed feelings of both the present day and the past our symptoms of anxiety, depression, or relationship difficulties get worse.
There are two major goals in therapy:
1) Help you see the automatic ways you avoid mixed, often painful feelings, and
2) Work through these avoided feelings in order to release them
Once those emotions are worked through we no longer need to engage in avoidance behaviours because we no longer fear the memories or the emotions and the presenting symptoms of anxiety, depression, etc. subside.
ISTDP can be a very challenging form of therapy, but it is an excellent format for Physical Symptoms (often referred to as Somatic Symptom Disorders) and it is capable of producing rapid and sustained relief from the physical manifestations of emotional distress, including: tension headaches, migraines, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Fibromyalgia, muscle weakness, fatigue, tic disorders, and some forms of cognitive difficulties. It is also very effective for many mental health difficulties, including – Anxiety, Depression, Panic Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), personality disorders, interpersonal difficulties, and more.