Luna Medina, Florida Atlantic University
Mind-Body-Spirit in Counseling by Dr. Erica Goodstone
Dr. Erica is interviewed by Luna Medina, Mental Health Counseling Graduate Student at Florida Atlantic University
There are many approaches in the specific field of Mental Health and in Counseling as a whole. Getting to know Dr. Erica Goodstone work broadened the horizon as far as understanding counseling from a holistic perspective. It is important to understand that practicing counseling holistically means to recognize that mind, body and spirit are the interrelated and integrated aspects of who we are. For a counselor to accurately assess a client it is necessary to look at all parts of their existence. Ignoring one part of the whole will draw a distorted picture of the person.
The person chosen to be interviewed in this paper is Dr. Erica Goodstone, Ph.D., LMHC, LMFT, LMT, LPC. Dr. Goodstone has been practicing for over twenty-five years. She is an experienced, licensed and has acquired credentials locally and nationally. As a psychotherapist, board-certified sex therapist, marriage and relationship counselor and body psychotherapist, and her credentials speaks for themselves. Within her scope of practice she works with individuals as well as couples. In her sessions she handles issues such as emotional problems, relationship conflicts, sexual concerns, dysfunctions, compulsions and addictions, as well as body image problems.
The reason the interviewer chose Dr. Goodstone is due to their shared general approach toward counseling. Approaching counseling in a holistic way represents her way of work. Her unique philosophy in counseling is described in her web-site in many ways, and here is a sample to her view: “We affect and are affected by every person with whom we relate – at work, at home, in our spiritual communities and even when pursuing leisure activities. The more we understand about our own style of communication, emotional makeup, and physiological responses, the more easily we can adapt to and alter situations for the benefit of all” (Goodstone, 2011). The way that she involves different methods and techniques in her therapy was fascinating. One thing especially unique in her therapy is the fact that she involves gentle touch in her sessions, through the Rubenfeld Synergy Method. She acquired a license as a massage therapist as well to make sure that when she uses touch in her therapy it is done appropriately and legally.
“The time has come!” she mentioned in one of her radio shows posted online. When asked to explain her comment she amplified and said that according to Chinese astrology this year is a powerful year spiritually in many ways, especially for mating. She further explained that many of the dates this year will include combinations of the number one (that means new beginning). One of those days was the cosmic day of January first, 2011. Where one individual (1) along with another individual (1) joined together (2) in unity (2011). This is a short explanation in that viewpoint, however to some extent you can comprehend the ideas hiding in it.
It is not a new notion that many therapists believe therapy should be approached holistically. Going back to the definition of holistic it goes back to considering the whole person, including metal, physical, emotional, spiritual and environmental factor (Gladding & Newsome, 2009). That is exactly what Dr. Goodstone applies in her therapy. For her it all started as part of a seminar she took back in the 1980’s by Dr. Dan Siegel. There she learned about the ideas of mind therapy. She also got involved with the Gestalt therapy that she still uses in her sessions with her clients (“The empty chair”, etc).
Dr. Goodstone mentioned that there are different parts to peoples personalities and some people just stand out more then others. She does not see her clients as sick, they just have some areas that are distorted or not productive. It all has to do with childhood upbringing, what happened to them and how they interpreted it. Being raised in a family of five children, living in the same house we all experienced things differently and produced different outcomes which provides strong support to this claim.
Working with mainly individuals and couples on their issues of body image & healing, intimate relationships or martial issues, as well as sexual concerns was described by Dr. Goodstone as her passion. The reason for that is the fact that she does not have to deal with people who have any major issue that need to be treated. They are mainly people who are doing well, but there is just a specific need to improve in one issue or more. She claims it to be much easier to do than dealing with any types of disabilities, substance use or diseases. She claims it is the “fun” part of the field of counseling.
The most difficult aspect of counseling for her is presented when people come to counseling but they are not looking/willing to change. They are looking to hear that they are okay and any issues will work out on their own. This condition becomes highly difficult when a married couple comes in for counseling and one partner is open the change and the other wants to just stay the same. The most rewarding cases are when people come to counseling talking about divorce and are completely disconnected from each other and they ends up living hand by hand, connected and willing to share.
The main issues presented in the past year in her practice were sexual confusion in relationships. The most common issue was low sexual desire from one partner, when the other is looking for more intimacy. Another major concern was infidelity by the male or female in the relationship. What was interesting is that their was a higher rate for females in there 50’s. The general claim was being unhappy in their marriage for many years and not speaking about it, so now they feel it is their right to cheat on their spouses. Dr Goodstone said that a lot of the problems between couples arise from online connections with ex- partners or any opposite sex people. That causes tension and insecurity in the relationship.
Dr. Goodstone practiced in New York, as well as Connecticut before arriving to Florida. One cultural issue that she only got to experience in Florida was the freedom and provocation in strip clubs. She claims that this brings a lot of confusion into the relationship. Many couples live in a fantasy world and are unable to focus on their relationships due to having many temptations. The first resort they turn to is divorce, rather than trying to go back and work on the relationship. A lot of people run to Florida to escape their old relationship and find the “perfect” single lifestyle of living by the beach. One other topic she mentioned was the substantial work life popular in Florida, rather than more solid work experience in people up North which is likely to affect the relationship as well.
When talking about supervision Dr. Goodstone strongly recommended to have closed supervision in the beginning of the career. As time goes by it is important to create a circle of colleagues/mentors to rely on for advice. For her after many years of practicing she finds support through peer group meetings and therapy group meeting that she attends. In those meetings, they share their experience and talk about complicated cases. As a sex therapist she is also a member of a list serve online where they can share complex cases online and people from all over the world can provide their recommendation about it.
Dr. Goodstone wanted to share a few good tips to future counselors. She said that it is highly important to experience as much as you can as a student to be able to find your own niche, or comfort zone. The area of work where you feel most comfortable in, and where you think you can make the life of others better, due to your services. It is important to write from the very start and try to publish as much as you can. It is also good to start writing a Blog online that is related to your main interest. To the one’s who are looking to open a private practice one day she strongly recommended to provide lectures in public location for publicity and being part of social groups online and in the community to advertise your services.
In ten years Dr. Goodstone is hoping to have her online coaching program well established and running smoothly. She wants to promote her message of healing and relationships through love by being accessible to the on-growing community online. Overall, this is the message that she sends to the world. We are here now and we have to make the choices as to what will influence our lives and take us forward. We are the only ones that have the power to create and influence our future. Taking care of our bodies and cleaning our thoughts from negative energies will lead us to a better place. We can train our minds to eagerly look for the positive route that will lead us to a better future.
Gladding, S.T., & Newsome, D.W. (2009). Clinical mental health counseling in community and agency setting. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Goodstone, E. (2011, January). Dr. Erica wellness. Retrieved from http://www.drericawellness.com/index.html