Larry O’Connor, Marriage and Family Therapist
My style is collaborative, and authentic by virtue of my humor. I draw from several theories, but my understanding of people relies on listening and checking whether I’m getting them. I don’t just sit mute or blank faced. If I offer suggestions or strategies, I encourage a person to consider whether it’s helpful, or that they can genuinely see trying these out. I offer other possibilities of understanding themselves and their lives. People have expressed I get who they are, and the nuances of their situation, and feel respected as equals working with me.
Often the desire to change is a reaction to dissatisfaction, with our selves, relationships, or current circumstances. Unfortunately, reaction causes us to overlook our existing qualities, for unrealistic expectations, not what’s already there. This invalidates who we are, and what we’re actually trying to realize, potentially making change more bewildering.
I’m honest when I say I genuinely find the people I work with likable , believing they are capable of realizing what they want. Yet, I’m often struck with their difficulty accepting this, that the other shoe will drop, or accusing me of blowing sunshine, so to speak. My role doesn’t dictate saying these things. It’s theoretically sound perhaps not to. But, sitting where I do, seeing what I see, I think it’s important the people I work with see it too.
Although relationships provide much of our context, feeling belonging, being cared for, and that we matter, they carry a risk of losing our sense of self. The two most fundamental drives, wanting to be in a relationship and wanting to be our own person are also the two fundamental problems that couples have in relationships. This is the central dilemma within committed relationships, causing self doubt, isolation, and the avoidance of intimacy. Still, we want partners to know us, be witness to our lives, and to participate without restricting our individuality.
Quoting Eric Fromm, “The right to express our thoughts means something only if we are able to have thoughts of our own.” I encourage couples to develop differentiation through communication, and to balance connection and individuality; deepening their involvement in the relationship while able to remain their own person within it. The opposite is Enmeshment, becoming entangled and giving up one’s identity to avoid repercussions–but later resenting it.
My Specialties Include:
- Improving Relationships and Communication
- Separation, Divorce, and Co-Parenting
- Successfully Managing Depression and Anxiety
- Finding Individual Meaning and Purpose in Life
- Making Successful Transitions
- Men’s Issues & Men in Relationships
- Addressing Substance Abuse, and Addictions
Theories I draw from:
- Existential psychotherapy
- Humanistic psychology
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Interpersonal psychoanalysis
I have offices both in San Francisco and Palo Alto.
I always encourage you to read or post reviews on Yelp.
“Sanity is only that which is within the frame of reference of conventional thought.”