Paul Hutchinson, Ph.D.           Clinical Psychologist

Ph.D. Psychologist and Therapist

Psychologist and Therapist, Individual and Couples Therapy,  Bellevue, WA

Bellevue Psychologist and Therapist
Individual Therapy

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Welcome to my web site. I am a psychologist in Bellevue, Washington with over 25 years experience as a therapist. This website started about 15 years ago as a description of myself and my therapy practice, intended to introduce me to prospective clients.  Over time it has also become a place for me to write about psychological topics, including life and love and the complicated business of being human.   If you would like to know more about how I do therapy, you can start with this page on Individual Therapy.  You can also look at the links in the box along the right side of this page. 

Psychotherapy is a powerful method for changing and improving your life. It can be difficult, but it is rewarding, and typically leads to a deeper understanding of yourself, and a clearer sense of how to make choices that will lead to contentment, satisfaction, and joy.

As a therapist, I work with people on a wide variety of issues.  Often people come to therapy to work on their closest relationships, both family relationships and romantic relationships.  Depression and anxiety are two common expressions of the difficulties of life.  They are tied to our biology, and also tied to hardships, and losses and fears, and to the way that we make sense out of everything that happens to us. 

If you are considering me as your therapist, it will probably be useful to understand how I think about human psychology.  Much of that is reflected in the various articles that I have writtien here.  Let me give you a brief tour of how these articles and ideas fit together.

Human life is all about relationships, and all about emotion.  We are very social creatures and very emotional creatures.  From the day we are born, we are wired to seek love and closeness and the company of others.  We have a deep desire to form attachments to others, to love and be loved, and a deep desire to be known and understood.  In my article on Emotional Intimacy I explore the way that we get close to each other through conversation and vulnerability.  I explore some other sides of closeness in an article about Relationship Advice for Improving Closeness.  I also offer some advice on communication and conflict resolution in the article on Communication for Couples.

Researchers have found that our earliest attachments, especially to our parents, set the stage for how our later attachments will go.  The research on this is described in this article on Attachment Theory.  Good early attachments help us feel safe being vulnerable, and feel certain that we will be loved.  If our early attachments weren't so good, we tend to have defenses that can get in the way of later relationships.  We can either try not to need anyone, or we can be too aware of our needs, and feel unsafe and insecure in our relationships.  The good news is that therapy can help us understand and partially change the impulses that come from poor early attachments.

Empathy is our ability to understand the experience of others and put ourselves in their shoes.  I describe and explore the concept of empathy in this article, A Definition of Empathy.  On the other side of the same coin, I explore what happens when the capacity for empathy goes badly wrong in the article, A Definition of Narcissism.

As I wrote about closeness and vulnerability, it naturally led to the question of whether men and women differ in how they approach closeness, and in their willingness to be vulnerable.  The simple answer is that men are more likely to keep their guards up, to want to appear strong and confident, even when that gets in the way of closeness.  I talk more about this in the article on Masculinity and Vulnerability.

Therapy is typically a process of becoming more aware of our emotions, our thoughts,and of what goes on inside of us. There are various terms for what starts to happen as we get more in touch with ourselves, more aware of ourselves.  Many people find that becoming more aware of themselves leaves them feeling more centered, more accepting of themselves, and more at peace.  There are other practices besides therapy that can help us become more aware of ourselves.  Some of this process is described in the articles An Introduction to Mindfulness, and How to Practice Mindfulness

If a person is in crisis, or in a life transition, it is often helpful to do brief therapy to get through that situation. But if someone is dealing with depression or other difficulties that have persisted over several years, effective therapy typically involves taking a deeper look at a number of things. It usually involves carefully exploring the patterns in your feelings, your choices, your relationships, and the workings of your life. The goal is to figure out how to make the important parts of life work well: How to have close and satisfying relationships, how to be satisfied and happy with yourself, how to work through painful things and have a life that is full of joy and meaning. The payoff of therapy, which can often be hard work, is that life becomes richer and more satisfying.

Sometimes, in the chaos of day to day life, the most important questions seem to get lost.

If there is a sense of something missing, or something unfulfilled, therapy can explore that, and help you find your way to a more meaningful way of living.

Choosing a therapist is a very important decision. If you would like to know more about my practice in addition to the information here, feel free to call and talk to me. I answer my phone personally when I am not in session, and I return calls within 24 hours.