INDIVIDUAL & FAMILY THERAPY
One in five adults in the United States are taking a prescription psychotropic medication for mental health issues (e.g., Prozac). Like psychotherapy, psychotropic drugs have a very strong placebo effect. Whether you are vaping a CBD pen or popping Celexa every morning, drugs are great way of numbing symptoms, but the drugs do not explain the causes of one’s distress. Culture, family of origin, biology—adverse experiences— and living within a specific socio-political process, informs us on the causes of suffering. From an Eastern psychological perspective, the attachment to a solid, interior and separate self is suffering. Our psychotherapy (Andrew Archer and Elizabeth McKay) is deeply rooted in progressive activism and social work values.
After an initial clinical assessment (60 minutes), we work with you to develop a plan for reaching your therapy goal(s). After the initial appointment, subsequent sessions are 45-50 minutes long and typically start with elements of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The fundamentals of CBT orient one to identifying thoughts, recognizing bodily awareness and learning the communication of emotions. Together, the therapist and client will illuminate how your mind works by constructing a narrative that is shared and mutually agreed upon. Collaborating on a diagnosis is sometimes useful, but what is most important is to develop a professional relationship together. The foundations of this relationship are trust, mutual-respect, healthy boundaries and non-judgment.
In a comfortable and supportive atmosphere, we offer highly personalized approaches, tailored to each client's individual needs in order to facilitate the growth or acceptance they are pursuing.
ABOUT ANDREW ARCHER
ANDREW ARCHER, LICSW
Andrew Archer, LICSW is the owner of Minnesota Mental Health Services and therapist. He is a clinical social worker, writer and instructor. He practices Zen psychotherapy (see below) with children, adults, couples and families. Andrew utilizes Internal Family Systems (IFS) and Clinical Hypnosis with his clients. Andrew is the author of the 2013 memoir, Pleading Insanity, and is a national speaker. He has held academic positions at the University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The ingredients for a Zen psychotherapist are an environment whereby the clinician is empty of conceptual understandings of the person in-therapy. This goes beyond non-judgment and mindfulness practices of paying attention wholeheartedly to the present moment. In his book Zen Therapy: Transcending the Sorrows of the Human Mind, Brazier (1997) articulates how the therapist can be radically attuned to their client without actually attaching or clinging to their own sense of self. The therapist works with whatever the client brings to the session. There is no agenda or necessary path that has to be followed, which gives rise to a heightened vulnerability and intimacy.
This deep level of connection allows the provider to be open and flexible. The fluidity of Zen psychotherapy is an ego-less process, which can foster a place that is not affected by reactivity and impulsive reassurance for the client. Zen psychotherapy is therefore relational-connectivity via an absence of conceptual thinking. The therapeutic process manifests as “not two” or non-separation. This process of non-separation is facilitated by the therapist’s relative ability to momentarily drop dualistic thinking or to be “empty”. The therapist’s exercise of non-duality is from a state of alert relaxation (cultivated via meditation practice), which is the vehicle of compassion within the therapeutic dyad. The central feature of this approach is non-judgmental, mindful awareness. The therapist models detachment from ego in the therapeutic relationship with the client, which is part of what makes the relationship therapeutic.
The Zen Psychotherapy process is the elimination of producing concepts and the goal is non-attachment. Thinking does not stop for the therapist, but conceptual designation falls away. The therapist and client are one continuous—yet autonomous—flow of thoughts, feelings/emotions and behaviors. The therapist is engaged in mindful awareness of momentary change with the anchor being the breath. The therapist is actively practicing what Jon Kabat-Zinn calls “non-doing.” Brazier (1997) reflecting on Zen therapy, states, “The therapist does not look for faults and is not directly trying to change the client. Rather, the therapist makes the client and their world the object of mindful attention.” * With each stimulus (internal and external), the therapist is noticing with what Suzuki Roshi calls “beginner’s mind” (i.e., open curiosity and not-knowing).
To the degree possible, the intention is for the therapist to sit in a relaxed, yet stable position with relative stillness and no obstruction to energy movement (e.g., feet firm to the ground, pliable extremities, etc.). To use Western psychological language, one ideal or “goal” of Zen psychotherapy is to allow for the therapist and client to practice meditation in session, together. The concept for this activity is “dyadic relational meditation” (DRM) + also known as “zazen” (in Japanese), whereby client and therapist take the traditional form of sitting cross-leg with a zafu cushion or flat, comfortable surface (e.g., chair or pillow). DRM is the relational manifestation and embodiment of self (“not-self”) regulation (i.e., not two, interdependent co-arising). Freedom and liberation via Zen psychotherapy is the shift into transcending or allowing pathology (relative) to fade away (absolute).
*p. 70, Brazier, D. (1997). Zen therapy: Transcending the sorrows of the human mind. Wiley.
- Coleman, D. & Archer, A. (2019, May 24). Applied Zen Psychotherapy Retreat. University of Wisconsin-Continuing Studies. Madison, WI.
ABOUT ELIZABETH McKAY
ELIZABETH MCkay, LICSW
Elizabeth McKay, LICSW, is a clinical social worker and therapist at Minnesota Mental Health Services. She has worked in the mental health field for 20 years, and has experience working with a diverse population; mostly with young adults to seniors. Elizabeth utilizes Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART). Elizabeth has also been trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Mindfulness, as well as EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization Therapy). Elizabeth holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Pace University, White Plains, New York, as well as a Master’s in Social Work from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Elizabeth lives and grew up in St. Peter, Minnesota.
Elizabeth works with a broad range of mental health concerns using a variety of therapeutic techniques. Her work is centered around accelerated processing to overcome trauma, phobias, and other fears. This type of therapy is called Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), which is an evidence-based therapy that uses eye-movements to help the brain reprocess “stuck” information, such as troubling mages or memories. The brain stores traumatic memories in a way that is different from our “normal” memories. Our normal memories fade somewhat, and we have difficulty recalling the details. Traumatic memories leave a vivid imprint that is sometimes difficult for the brain to process normally. Eye-movements, such as those that we experience in REM sleep, help the brain to process these memories so that they are no longer triggering for us. Elizabeth leads the client through this creative process using the clients own words, thoughts, and images. Elizabeth had found that not only is this therapy beneficial, most clients enjoy the metaphors and creativity involved in this therapy. ART works with a variety of concerns, including anxiety, grief, panic attacks, fear of public speaking, and much more.
Elizabeth believes it is important for clients to have a thorough assessment to determine the best course of action to achieve their goals. Elizabeth believes clients are a large part of their own healing process, and makes sure clients determine their goals in the session. Elizabeth works primarily with young adults, adults, and seniors. Elizabeth believes that part of therapy is learning more effective coping strategies, and makes sure she and clients are “covering all the bases” for a well-rounded, compete therapeutic experience. Elizabeth wants clients to achieve great results for a more meaningful, more relaxed, and more present life.