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Individual, Couples, and Family Therapy

Individual, Couples and Family Therapy
Each of us is a healthy and whole being. Even before birth (in utero), we have experiences that take us away from our authentic selves. The goal of therapy is to work through what blocks us from connecting with our essential self and discovering our life purpose. Therapy is a process by which we uncover the truth about who we are as well as what holds us back from believing in the possibility of change.

Each of us has experienced difficulties and challenges. Identifying and cultivating strengths that help us through our darkest nights helps us connect to our authentic selves. Clients identify 3 categories of strengths including the inner, interpersonal and transpersonal. Some inner resources clients name include: humor, sense of beauty, optimism, awe, persistence, curiosity, creativity, acceptance and compassion.

Clients also identify people - living or dead - who embody these qualities: ancestors, family members, authors, celebrities, etc. Together we discover who it is that has a guiding message. While all strengths connect us to our highest self, transpersonal resources connect us directly to something greater than ourselves. Clients have drawn upon the wisdom and strength of a Higher Power, God, Jesus, Allah, Yaweh, the earth, animal spirits, trees, etc. Connecting to these resources connects us to our true nature.

An important step on this journey is cultivating compassion. Through compassion we come to experience our connection to ourselves and, ultimately, to know that we are connected to all beings.

I have been trained in a variety of theories and methods including individual, couples, and family counseling, object relations, cognitive therapy, drama therapy, psychodrama, movement therapy, sandplay, art and movement therapies. I also have studied Buddhism (Vipassana meditation) and other spiritual practices for many years. I draw from all of these areas in my work with individuals, couples and families. The therapeutic relationship is a co-creation, so the work varies with each client.

Individual Therapy
There are times in our lives when we wish to focus on our own growth and to know ourselves better. Many life challenges can lead a person to individual therapy including: wanting to make changes but unsure about how to proceed; abusing food, substances, work, etc., as a means of coping; experiencing anxiety, panic or depression; unable to move on from past hurts or traumas; being in a time of transition or experiencing a loss. Individual therapy can help clients gain greater awareness of their own processes and transform life challenges into opportunities for growth.

Couples Therapy
If most of the challenges in your life revolve around your primary relationship, you may benefit from working with your partner or spouse in therapy. Couples Therapy focuses on the relationship between the two people in the couple. The therapist acts as a facilitator in helping the couple better understand their interactions and the forces that may be affecting their relationship. The therapy shifts between day-to-day problem solving and improving communication, and exploring previous experiences of each partner that may be contributing to present-day behaviors.

Couples therapy can help those who are in new relationships as well as those who have been together for many years. Couples therapy can help renew the respect and love the couple shares, increase the fun and pleasure the couple experiences and deepen the intimacy of the relationship. It can also help each person develop new roles in the relationship and be more fully themselves.

Family Therapy
Families often come into therapy when there is a breakdown in communication, during a crisis or in a time of transition. Family therapy gives everyone an opportunity to be heard and to work together for the good of the family. Family therapy can help the family establish new roles for each member and establish new rules, rituals and norms.

Expressive Arts Therapy including Psychodrama and Drama Therapy
Many individuals, couples and families choose to work in an expressive arts modality. I am skilled in psychodrama, drama therapy, sandplay, art and movement therapies and may draw from all of these areas in my work with clients. The introduction of expressive modalities increases spontaneity and playfulness, thus allowing for new roles - new ways of understanding, experiencing and acting - to emerge.

Locations and Availability
I work with individuals, couples and families at IMAGINE! in San Rafael on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and in San Francisco on Tuesdays. Please call (415) 454-7308 to discuss your needs or arrange for an appointment.

Sylvia Israel


Marin's only dedicated Drama Therapy / Psychodrama Center