My personal experience living as an international expatriate have shaped my open-minded, tolerant and nonjudgmental manner in specializing in and treating anxiety disorders and depression. I understand that it doesn’t matter where you go, you take your backpack of problems with you. You can’t run away from your anxiety disorders or depression, but together, we can certainly stop them from sabotaging your life.
After my graduation from Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet, in Jena, Germany, I trained to be a psychodynamic psychotherapist, worked in several hospital and outpatient settings, taught pre-med psychosomatic classes, and coordinated a nationwide study to assess the efficacy of psychotherapy in treating social anxiety disorder. In my former private practice in Munich, Germany, I enjoyed working with international students, expatriates and their families to overcome their anxiety disorders and live a fuller, happier lifestyle.
I have over 15 years experience in treating anxiety disorders and depression using psychodynamic psychotherapy techniques and also cognitive-behavioral-therapy. I offer professional online psychotherapy sessions from the comfort of your home in the US and internationally, and use HIPAA compliant secure software to ensure the utmost privacy and confidentiality in our sessions.
Anxiety Disorders and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Anxiety disorders all share the common themes of shame, isolation, humiliation and loneliness. They make you believe your thoughts and the way you perceive the world are the hard truth. Anxiety disorders fester from your fear to debunk those myths, and grow exponentially from avoiding confrontation with the actual truth. You may falsely believe you have ways to avoid your anxiety disorder and feel in control. Sadly, the only one in control is the anxiety disorder controlling you. You can overcome your anxiety disorder with clinically proven methods and practice, and regain control of your life. In our online psychotherapy sessions we will learn how to successfully challenge your anxiety disorder in a step-by-step process so that you can make the changes you need to make.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is the fear of being judged by others negatively and being humiliated or embarrassed in front of others. Examples include feeling incredibly anxious in social situations where you as meet new people, go on dates, have to eat or drink in front of others, or write something down where others may watch you. Social anxiety disorder makes you believe you are constantly being judged and rejected by others. It makes you believe you are disconnected to others and that you are doomed to live your life outside looking in.
Performance Anxiety Disorder
Performance social anxiety disorder hinders professionals from succeeding in their professional lives. These individuals may be musicians, dancers, or anyone who needs to hold public speeches and fears scrutiny of their performances. Their social anxiety is tied to an overvalued sense of perfection that is actually unattainable. Because persons with performance social anxiety disorder never reach their personal level of perfection, they devalue themselves and suffer from low self-esteem. This feeds into the social anxiety so much, that people resort to lower paid jobs and perform way below their talents, living a lesser life than the one they deserve.
Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder (OCD) is defined by the presence of obsessive thoughts, urges or images that are intrusive and cause great anxiety. In order to eliminate or neutralize these OCD thoughts, sufferers create compulsions which can be actions or mental. These mental or physical actions range from washing, counting, checking the Internet. and reassurance seeking, mentally reviewing past experiences, switching out bad thoughts for good thoughts, or avoiding triggers. The OCD compulsions may have ‘worked’ at one point or another but quickly lose their power. For this reason, persons suffering from OCD, start to develop elaborate compulsions which can take up to 1 hour or longer a day to complete. Sufferers of OCD live a reduced lifestyle and develop problems at work and in their social lives. Without professional help, OCD can become chronic and rarely disappears on its own.
In the US alone it takes OCD sufferers 11 years to be correctly diagnosed with OCD and 17 years until they find ERP treatment. You’ve tried your method against OCD for so long without success, it is time to battle OCD with something else.
Using ERP (Exposure Response Prevention) Therapy, a sufferer learns tools to see the OCD from a different point of view and unlearns to be afraid of the intrusive thoughts. Together, we will actively sort and then challenge those thoughts by not responding with the usual compulsions, but letting the anxiety just sit there until it goes down on its own. This may sound counterproductive but ERP is the first-line therapy for OCD today with a high success rate. This is a step-by-step process where you will learn how to control how you think about your intrusive thoughts and reduce your anxiety within a relatively short amount of time. It’s a short-term pain with long-term gain.
Depression and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
Depression is defined by a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day with a loss of pleasure in activities, insomnia or hypersomnia, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, loss of concentration and weight loss or gain. Depression lasting two weeks or more may fulfill the criteria for a Major Depressive Disorder, in which case I suggest to collaborate with your GP or psychiatrist to develop a structured treatment plan. A clinical MDD may arise without formal triggers and you may feel at loss at how to describe this to others and make others understand the weight of your feelings. MDD makes you unable to function at work or in your daily life and hinders you in actively getting the help you need.
However, you can certainly experience lower levels of depression associated with anxiety disorders, perceived failures and losses, break ups, bullying, and shattered expectations. Also related to depression are sudden changes in lifestyle, such as losing your job, losing your daily structure, death of a friend or family member, infertility, moving to a new city or country, homesickness, and even culture shock. These lower levels of depression do not always warrant medication and may be successfully healed with psychodynamic psychotherapy methods. Studies show that understanding the development of depression, accepting your losses and the mourning process opens doors to the ability to accept a more positive future. I am a trained psychodynamic psychotherapist and I can help you through talk therapy to gain a more positive perspective on your life.
Moving to a foreign country for personal or professional reasons may trigger excitement or also anxiety for many. While professional challenges as an expatriate in a foreign environment may keep you busy, the emotional challenges are not as clear cut. Common problems for expatriates in a foreign environment include an overload of information, gaps in technology and generation, a cultural gap and language barrier. Social norms at home may not count or even be seen as rude in another country. Some expatriates or expatriate families may feel extremely overwhelmed, homesick, and uprooted while grasping for a sense of stability and normalcy in a very different environment.
This is the definition of culture shock, in which a person initially embraces the new (honeymoon phase), tries to adapt with trial and error (negotiation phase), adjusts as best he/she can while fighting to keep the homeland identity (adjustment phase), and finally, adaptation. This process may take from several months to even years. Some find themselves stuck in a certain phase, unable to let go of the home culture and unable to accept the new one. This may cause excessive frustration and even depression over time.
It is not uncommon for an expatriate to return home from a job in a foreign country without acquiring any knowledge, culture or language of the host country. These expatriates have created bubble within the foreign country, which was most likely experienced as isolating and limited. Another problem expatriates face returning home is that of reverse culture shock. In reverse culture shock, returning expatriates realize that their experiences have changed them and that their former lives have changed without them. Returning expatriates may need several months or years to relearn the social and professional scripts of their home country and may even experience feelings of loss and bereavement for the foreign country during this time. As a former expatriate myself, I can support you and your family in integrating yourself into a new culture, overcoming anxiety related to learning a new language or customs and help you readapt to your home country upon return.