Adam Szmerling - Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Practitioner
Born and bred in Melbourne, I’m a fully qualified clinical psychotherapist. I own Bayside Psychotherapy and publish much of its content. I’ve been practicing in the Bayside area for 13 years. My main treatment orientation is psychoanalysis (Lacanian).
My counselling qualifications include:
- Bachelor of Applied Social Science (Counselling)
- Graduate Diploma in Psychotherapy
- ARCAP registered & PACFA Mental Health Practitioner
- Certificate of Lacanian Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice
- Advanced Diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy
- Clinical Member of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA)
- Buddhist psychotherapy, dream analysis and mindfulness therapy
But counselling, hypnotherapy & psychotherapy go far beyond qualifications...
You should only ever seek treatment from a qualified counsellor, hypnotherapist or psychotherapist. But it’s important to remember that qualifications, alone, don’t make a great therapist. Experience, compassion, empathy, communication skills and open-mindedness are equally as — if not more — important.
Only when you work with a therapist who is all of those things, will you feel comfortable enough to unearth and resolve your deeply ingrained inner conflicts.
That’s why I work from a position of non-judgemental acceptance, combining a variety of Eastern and Western treatment methods to tailor the one that is most effective for you — regardless of cultural origin.
As a result, my clients often report feeling heard and understood, and unconditionally accepted as they are.
Unearthing and addressing the root cause
In fact, unconditional acceptance on my part is integral to the success of my methods. In order to unearth and address the root cause of your struggles, I combine two surprisingly compatible methods: one from the West (psychoanalytic psychotherapy) and one from the East (mindfulness therapy).
Psychoanalysis is an intriguing method, developed by Sigmund Freud, involving free association. I invite you to speak freely and to attend to thoughts, fantasies and dreams, and I listen carefully for slips of the tongue, dreams, jokes, mistakes and other clues that might start to form a pattern. (Also known as ‘illuminating the trail of the repressed’, or 'deciphering the unconscious'.)
My goal here is to help improve your self-understanding and speak about more than you know about consciously, not to merely reduce your symptoms. When you come to know how you really tick, how your inner world — your ‘psyche’ — uniquely operates, your symptoms may generally change of their own accord. This is not a 'quick fix' type of therapy.
I will invite you to question what you really want in your life: Not merely the conscious desires of the ego though, which people purport to want (e.g. a new house, another car, a husband, kids etc), but to figure out your particular unconscious wishes (usually conflictual) that are operating possibly without your awareness, with considerable effects on your life.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy inevitably digs up painful thoughts and feelings. In fact, that’s the point. The idea is to confront and address these feelings, rather than letting them continue to harm your relationships and undermine your happiness. (Unresolved relationship patterns and ingrained thoughts often get enacted in your current relationships, as well as with your psychotherapist. This is called ‘transference’.)
Mindfulness therapy helps address the emergence of these painful memories, thoughts, feelings and patterns. Otherwise known as mindfulness meditation, mindfulness therapy is an Eastern method that has been in use for thousands of years, with astounding results. It has many benefits, including self-management of painful thoughts, feelings and behaviours, stability of mind, decreased reactivity and enhanced insight.
A unique combination
I don’t know of many other therapists who combine these two methods. Which is quite surprising, really. They both involve purposeful, non-judgemental observation and introspection, and their outcomes go hand-in-hand.
Dwelling on symptom reduction is like trying to sleep
I mention above that I focus more on your self-understanding than on direct symptom reduction. In part, that’s because psychoanalysis tends to lead to symptom reduction by default. But it’s also because dwelling on symptoms can cause anxiety, which can actually increase symptoms. It’s natural for you to want your symptoms to vanish quickly, but dwelling on them - obsessing about symptom reduction - can be like trying to go to sleep!
I take on only clients who are suited to me and my methods
I don’t take on every client who contacts me. Rather, I assess people, during initial sessions, to determine their suitability. They need to be adequately committed to the journey (and be likely to persist with therapy when it feels difficult), and be psychologically curious — willing to self-reflect on their past and think about how it informs the present, open to uncovering patterns and links.
Psychoanalysis, my preferred method, is usually long term, sometimes taking years (not to say improvements aren't felt early on) at a frequency of at least once a week, preferably two or three times a week. So naturally, the kind of people I can work with are those with a sustainable commitment to their treatment, and who come to take a keen interest in their unconscious.
Ongoing professional development
The field of counselling, hypnotherapy and psychotherapy is dynamic, and rapidly advancing. New research findings are continually emerging, and even the most seasoned of counsellors need to constantly update their knowledge.
I participate in this change on both sides of the fence. I believe strongly in ongoing practitioner development and actively pursue additional professional training. And at the same time, I provide clinical supervision to other psychotherapists.
My research and training areas include:
• Psychotherapy for depression, anxiety and "personality disorders" and irritable bowel syndrome;
• Lacanian Psychoanalysis (4 year course);
• The effectiveness of mindfulness therapy on complex trauma and major depression and anxiety; and
• Buddhist psychotherapy and mindfulness meditation.
Please call me in Melbourne on (03) 9557 9113 to find out if I can help.