Neha Chawla, PhD                                                                                                                            
Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Seattle, Washington
 

Approach

My primary approach to therapy is rooted in the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness involves bringing a kind and gentle attention to whatever is arising in the present moment. This involves greater awareness of thoughts, emotional states, and sensations in the body. This type of awareness creates a pause in the automatic, habitual behaviors that rule most of our lives. This  is not only a form of self-care, but has the potential to create a greater sense of freedom and choice.

 

I believe that much of our suffering comes from an inability to be present with what is uncomfortable and painful in our lives. We avoid this discomfort in a multitude of ways that may seem useful in the short run, but tend to hinder our ability to live a full, rich and meaningful life.

 

The work of therapy is often to learn to be with discomfort in a compassionate way. This is sometimes more easily learned in the context of a genuine, trusting and caring relationship. While a strong therapeutic relationship can create the space for us to be with what is difficult, mindfulness provides a tool for doing this. Bringing this type of compassionate presence to our suffering, can allow us to access our natural capacity for growth and healing, help us make decisions from a wiser place, and feel more fully engaged with our lives.

 

Mindfulness has gained increasing popularity in the treatment literature and has a substantial set of scientific studies supporting its effectiveness with a variety of problems including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and addictive behaviors.


Two related approaches that I draw heavily from are Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

 

FAP focuses on difficulties and problems in relationships. It uses the relationship with the therapist as a vehicle to develop rich and meaningful connections with others. It involves taking risks with others, including the therapist, learning to be aware of how we impact other people, and learning to develop more intimate, loving relationships. For more information about FAP, please click here.


ACT emphasizes that psychological pain is an inevitable part of being human, and that it is the mind's struggle against it that often leads to suffering. Thus, within an ACT framework, suffering is less about discomfort and pain, and more about the behaviors we engage in to avoid pain, and our difficulty separating pain from worry, dread and self-judgment. The goal of therapy is not to eliminate discomfort, but to let go of struggle and accept what can not be changed, while moving in the direction of what one values. For more information about ACT, please click here.


Additionally, I have training in several empirically validated cognitive-behavioral interventions, that may be integrated with the above mentioned framework. To the extent possible, I attempt to tailor interventions to the specific needs of each individual, based on what has been shown to be most effective in the research literature.



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