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Clinical Philosophy

In general terms, psychotherapy is a process which works toward reducing mental pain through a detailed examination of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Typically, problems don’t develop overnight. They develop over time and can be seen in specific patterns that vary in different people. I believe in providing psychotherapy which is collaborative, focused and identifies and respects the unique circumstances of each person.


During the initial sessions we will discuss the problems that are troubling you and identify a specific plan to address them. Treatment works to target conflicts (in emotion and thought) which interfere with the course of life and often impact functioning at work, in relationships, and other areas. My philosophy for change is based on several guiding assumptions:

People are wired for change

Many of my clients come to treatment feeling “stuck” and unable to make changes. Often they are unable to see how their life can be different. The good news is that our minds are designed to be adaptive and flexible. My role as therapist is to understand how your difficulties are standing in the way of growth, and work with you to discover new ways of relating to yourself and others.

Emotions play a central role in the problems people experience

Recent scientific evidence confirms that emotions, and the ability or inability to experience particular feelings, has significant impact on mental health issues, self esteem, and the quality of one’s relationships. Sometimes feelings are overwhelming, scary, difficult to put into words, or are distant. In other cases, people come into treatment with a “sense” that something doesn’t feel quite right. Psychotherapy offers an opportunity to clarify these feelings in a safe and supportive environment. Exploring emotions also allows greater insight into identifying unmet needs, opening the door to developing healthy solutions for meeting emotional needs appropriately.

Relationship bonds provide important information about problems and resolution

One of the most important aspects of human life is the manner in which we relate to others. Taking a look at the manner and character of your relationships provides incredible insight into the difficulties you may be experiencing. Exploring your connections with people most important to you (present and past) during therapy often is a cornerstone of resolving difficulties.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): 

People often struggle when they become entangled in difficult thoughts, feelings, memories and even sensations. Working towards “acceptance” of what is outside of your control and making a commitment to change things that are inside your control can often improve and enrich your life. By helping you utilize mindfulness skills to lessen the impact of painful thoughts and feelings that are an inevitable part of life, as well as clarifying values, you can make conscious steps toward moving in the direction of those values. The important process of understanding how thinking impacts us, and learning to accept these internal occurrences and staying present even while experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, can open the door to a new way of being, to allow more focus on what really matters in our life. Clarifying values and taking action on them can bring meaning, satisfaction and vitality to life.

ACT is part of a new wave of mindfulness based CBT therapies that has demonstrated effectiveness with many mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression. I am trained in ACT therapy and am a member of the Association of Contextual Behavioral Sciences (the ACT professional association). 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is an established and proven approach in psychotherapy that focuses primarily on how thoughts, behaviors, and emotions interact and affect one another. CBT is present focused: “What symptoms am I experiencing right now?”, “How does the way I think about situations affect how I feel about them?”, “How can I change the way I think or interact in certain situations to improve the way I cope with them?” There are many different techniques that are used in CBT. These may include exploring how you think about the world around you; keeping a journal about your symptoms, feelings, thoughts, or behavior; learning relaxation techniques; changing your behaviors (exercise, diet, smoking, etc.); or identifying anxiety producing thoughts as well as challenging your "thinking mistakes" and self-talk so that you can reduce the negative emotional experience that often results from exaggerated or distorted thinking patterns.

Treatment Orientation

My theoretical background draws strongly on principles of CBT, ACT, and client-centered approaches as well as some family systems. These approaches are shown to be effective with a wide range of problems including depression, relationship conflicts, anxiety, low self-esteem and other issues. If you would like to discuss these treatment models, I am happy to answer any questions that you might have.

Heidi Seligman, M.A., L.M.H.C., Licensed Mental Health Counselor

545 Rainier Blvd. North, Issaquah, WA 98027


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