How I work

Ali Shames-Dawson

Drawing on principles and techniques from relational psychotherapy and mindfulness practices, I aim to strengthen my client’s self-understanding and sense of control over their choices. My first objective is to create a space where people may feel safe to speak about experiences, thoughts, and feelings that may feel dangerous, shameful, or unacceptable. When we can access the personal meaning of problematic behaviors, then we can work with limiting beliefs about the self and the world that may keep people locked into patterns of behavior that disrupt their capacity to seek and maintain fulfilling, sustainable relationships and lifestyles.

At the root of much of my work is a sense of urgency about the primacy of self-expression for psychological health. But life experiences can lead to conflicts that stifle our capacity to be truthful with ourselves about who we are and what we want. This often results in great confusion, because we may act in ways that lead us astray or damage the commitments that matter most to us. Whether these conflicts manifest in out-of-control sexual behavior, substance use, problematic relationship styles, or harmful habits of thought, they serve a purpose that often has to do with running from ourselves.  Therapy is unique in that it provides a nonjudgmental relationship in which an individual can engage in careful observation of their thoughts, feelings, and habitual ways of relating to others that may help them step outside of these painful patterns and experience relief. The only way out is through.