Approach and Values
Each person and couple is unique, as are their needs for healing and growth. It is a privilege to be invited into others' lives - their ways of thinking, feeling, and viewing the world, their unique strengths and vulnerabilities. People address their lives' challenges and struggles creatively utilizing their biological, psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual resources.
Feeling safe enough to be able to talk about personal matters is a prerequisite for finding emotional healing and growth. My role is to provide attentive listening paired with questions that encourage deeper understanding, contribute perspectives, and, at times, to suggest specific skills or strategies to overcome road blocks. Confidentiality is required to provide a safe environment.
In medication management, I collaborate with my patients. I provide them with relevant information about their diagnoses, effective treatment options, and the possible effects and side effects of medications. When appropriate, we consider non-medication alternatives, especially those of psychotherapy and stress management. Together, we develop a treatment plan. I try to identify medication dosages and options that support the person well enough that they can effectively make use of their coping skills or are able to progress in psychotherapy.
When managing some conditions, such as bipolar disorder, I usually involve a family member in certain aspects of the treatment. Research and clinical experience strongly suggest that this provides the best long-term stability. Involving others in therapy will only be done with the patient's agreement.
Since body, mind, and spirit are closely interrelated, a holistic approach to emotional or mental health is most appropriate. The therapeutic approach must integrate the biological, psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual dimensions of our being. Emotional suffering and trauma frequently raise questions about the meaning and purpose of life and about God. People may feel disconnected from or angry at God. This spiritual conflict increases their distress at a time when their faith connection could otherwise sustain them. Patients are invited to explore the spiritual dimension of their concerns, if they wish to do so.
Our cultural backgrounds provide a perspective on life with implicit values, interpretations, behaviors, and customs. When people from different cultures work and live together, the cultural dimension of interpersonal tension needs to be understood in order to improve communication and connection. Cross-cultural couples face the challenge of distinguishing between personal and cultural clashes in their relationship. We need to be aware of our own cultural backgrounds with the perspectives and behaviors resulting from it. Cultural awareness and sensitivity are important values in my clinical practice. My personal views are shaped by the German, American, Nepali, and "expatriate" cultures, and, most strongly, by my Christian faith.
Frauke C. Schaefer, MD 1709 Legion Road, Suite 225 Chapel Hill, NC 27517 Tel (919) 357-7204 Fax (919) 929-7648 FraukeSchaeferMD@gmail.com