Robert Hamm, Ph.D.
Psychologist West Hartford, CT
These disorders represent a dysfunctional relationship with our future whereby we feel ill-equipped to deal with whatever it is that we dread or fear awaits us. Therefore, when working with this problem I will attempt to determine with the patient the exact nature of what is feared, including those cases such as with panic disorder or generalized anxiety where the source of anxiety isn’t always apparent. In conjunction with this approach intervention strategies might include relaxation training and visualization, cognitive therapy, exposure and desensitization in cases of trauma or phobias, social skills training in cases of social anxiety, and response prevention in cases of obsessive- compulsive disorder.
Depression is a syndrome, or set of symptoms, that can have many different sources. Its experiential source point is often seated in the past, such as associated with feelings of irreparable loss, guilt, or regret. As with anxiety disorders, it is important to try to target the sources of these symptoms in order to treat it effectively. Its causes might include loss of relationships, abilities, or options in life with consequent feelings of hopelessness, stresses in life, poor health, diet, and nutrition, chronic illness, job or caregiver burnout, loneliness and isolation, amongst many others. I work with the patient to help them find solutions to their concerns according to what is causing their depression. Helping patients find healthy ways to cope and to reinterpret their problems and themselves in relation to their problems toward a sense of hopefulness and self- empowerment often constitutes much of my work in these instances.
Low self-esteem affects our ability to take risks necessary to succeed; it can cause unrealistic self-expectations and influence mood and relationships deleteriously. My work with self-esteem issues focuses on examining how the confluence between historical influences from our childhood and our interpretations of these events have been interwoven with our sense of self in a destructive way. I help patients to reinterpret these events through cognitive therapy, sometimes in conjunction with mindfulness training, in order to restore self-empowerment and greater compassion toward self and others, in addition to behavioral interventions to achieve a balanced, healthy lifestyle and to establish a goal-oriented life.
I work with couples, families, and individuals to help them resolve conflicts and change dysfunctional patterns, treat sexual inhibitions and dysfunctions as well as to enhance sexual relationships, improve communication skills, clarify goals and direction, and to overcome the trauma of infidelity. This work may incorporate exploration of childhood attachment issues such as fear of abandonment or engulfment and psychological trauma resulting from exploitation, abuse, loss, and dysfunctional family dynamics.
Spirituality has many meanings today to different people. It might be related to our religious beliefs or not. To me it has to do with our connection with life and existence itself or lack thereof, our relationships with others, the earth and its living inhabitants, our past, our heritage, our future, and immortality. Creating meaning and purpose in life brings spiritual connection; its disconnection brings cynicism and despair. As we age we are inclined to look back on the arc of our life and ahead toward our connection with a greater realm of existence than our own. I work with patients who wish to achieve a greater sense of purpose and meaning in life and confront longstanding dysfunctional patterns of living and personality issues that impede these efforts through a process of inner exploration, insight, and creative self-development.
Addictions often represent the path of least resistance to cope with difficulties in life at the expense of one’s health, life, and relationships. My definition of addiction rests therefore on the consequences the behavior of concern has on one’s life and I view them generally as dysfunctional outgrowths of one’s relationship with oneself and relationships in general. Most of my experience in addiction has been in the treatment of sexual addictions though I also work with chemical addictions that are secondary to other mental disorders, such as depression or anxiety. My work with addictions incorporates careful examination and work with the sources of addiction in one’s life, such as the quality of one’s relationships, as well as cognitive-behavioral interventions including identifying triggers and developing coping strategies and accessing additional help from support groups such as 12-step programs in the community.
Contemporary society has difficulty channeling this essential emotion into socially accepted means, causing some to disavow awareness of its presence and the valued purposes it may serve in life. My work with anger management focuses on the triggers and suitable ways to cope with anger, including cognitive reframing, stress management, and communication-skills training.
When advised I may, with a patient’s approval, consult with their physician or previous behavioral health provider or recommend an examination with a psychiatrist for medication review as well as to consult with them as needed during the course of treatment. I maintain professional relationships with psychiatrists in my community to which I can refer patients if they wish. Medication is not a “magic bullet,” just one piece of a puzzle when it can be helpful; I am always respectful of a patient’s thoughts and wishes with respect to making decisions about these matters.