Dr. Edward J. Schau

THERAPIST

SEATTLE
12349 Roosevelt Way NE
Unit 101
Seattle, WA 98125
(206) 365-3808

STANWOOD
Camwood Counseling
PO Box 2672
9926 271st St. NW
Stanwood, WA 98292
(360) 652-3039
FAX (360) 629-4137



Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper painted “Nighthawks” just after Pearl Harbor.  For me, the painting evokes a sense of sadness and isolation.  The loneliness of the customers is accented by their separation from one another.  Even the man and the woman in the corner, a couple, appear lost in their own thoughts.  Still, the diner has the power to draw people in, offering warmth and a measure of hope against the night.

Therapy begins with story, yours and mine.  For example, my approach to therapy flows from my own story.  I grew up in West Seattle, which remains today a secessionist isthmus of Seattle proper, protecting within its shores a sixth of the city from the seductions of the majority.  The salt waters of Puget Sound slap against the beaches of West Seattle on the west side.  The Duawamish River snakes its way north toward Elliott Bay, and the two – river and bay – form the eastern boundary.

 

In the 1950s West Seattle stood out as a gritty enclave coated in the raw soot spewing from the rusting stacks of Bethlehem Steel.  Environmentally suspect but an otherwise safe place to raise children.  I rode the city bus alone when I was five years old.  West Seattle claims the highest point in the city 35th Avenue SW at Myrtle Street – and today remains serene in its middle class superiority.

 

My father stoked the open hearth at the steel mill and my mother breathed clerical life into the estimating department at Todd Shipyards on nearby Harbor Island.  My sharpest memories of the 50s include a smoky union hall and three long steel worker strikes.  My parents struggled, but we got by all right.  I am the middle of three children, with an older sister and a younger brother.

 

Such is the beginning of my story.  My approach to therapy – as with life – remains practical and optimistic.  The soot from the steel mill generally blew SE over Elliott Bay, leaving West Seattle innocent.  The north wind blowback was an inevitable but happy intrusion on our everyday lives.  The grit filtered through the glare of sunny skies.  And such is life.  And hope.

 

Contact with new clients begins with a phone call.  I work in multiple sites and set my own schedule.  The conversation offers a chance to clarify what is being sought and the likelihood of a fit between myself and the client.  For example, call me for adult depression, but I’ll take a pass on teen bulimia or childhood obsessive compulsive disorder.  The bond between therapist and client also depends upon my responses to questions about my approach to therapy and my background. 

Here is a question rarely asked:  What have been your major theoretical influences?  This sounds esoteric, but is really very practical in terms of understanding what happens in therapy.  For example, I have a couch in my office but don’t expect to lie on it while I sit behind you.  In graduate school, I shook hands with Freud and the psychodynamic process but really didn’t get to know him very well.  My therapy possesses a very practical bent.  Ever heard of Albert Bandura or Theodore Millon?  Psychologists have, but perhaps not many others.

 

Social learning theory (Bandura) suggests that people learn through a combination of observing the behavior of others and as a consequence of reinforcement and punishment.  I am interested in early family experiences as a way of understanding how a person has learned to “do life,” including how to handle conflict and find alternatives to recurring challenges.  The environment has a major impact on how people learn to behave. 

 

Personality (Millon) takes many forms and few therapists would dispute the importance of personality to therapy. Some personality characteristics are entrenched, making adaptation to life stressful or difficult.  People can be more or less open to change. Therapy is all about finding/learning new ways to manage life and feel good about it.

 

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) reigns as the new paradigm for therapy.  I have been around longer than CBT but have been using elements of it for many years. CBT blends cognitive therapy with behavior therapy. It focuses on problems in the present.

 

Sometimes false beliefs prevent a person from trying new ways of acting. A belief may require adjustment.  Personality flows from behavior. Changing behavior can lead to new feelings and attitudes about the self. Beliefs, feelings, and behaviors must all be addressed in therapy in an integrated manner. If a life story is stuck, therapy has the potential for guiding the evolution of the person.   Therapy begins with your story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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