Ashley King Therapy - Philadelphia, PA

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We cannot change the world by a new plan, project, or idea. We cannot even change other people by our convictions, stories, advice, and proposals, but we can offer a space where people are encouraged to disarm themselves, lay aside their occupations and preoccupations, and listen with attention and care to the voices speaking in their own center.” -- Henri Nouwen


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Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa once said that, “the basic work of health professionals in general and psychotherapists in particular is to become full human beings and to inspire full human-beingness in people who feel starved about their lives.” If there were a quote designed to encapsulate my vision of therapy, it would be this. 
As someone with a deeply humanistic orientation to psychotherapy, I am interested in potential over “pathology.” Humanists are motivated to explore the vaster reaches of wisdom and consciousness, and that is very much my aim.   Additionally, I have an existential bent and am passionate about meaning-making and cultivating a purposeful life.
In line with my humanistic and existential underpinnings, I am also deeply committed to experiential therapy, or therapy that is focused in the living moment. There is, perhaps, nothing more vital and powerful than concurrent awareness in the here-and-now. Thus, another important element of how I work is through contemplative practice. I am very interested in present-centered awareness practices of the East, and how they are able to enhance the process of therapy. It is my belief that experience is much closer to our core than is analysis. And, sometimes, even our language is too impoverished to capture the subtleties of feeling. Therefore, “beingness” is a crucial aspect of my work.
My rationale for such an approach has evolved, largely, out of my own experience in therapy over the years (which I discuss a bit further here). The paradox of change, as I have come to know it, both in my own work and in my work with clients, is that we move past our circumstances by claiming them. By first attending to what is, and by being able to hold that, we organically expand, making way for more creative possibilities.  
Consequently, I see my role in the therapeutic process as being somewhat akin to that of a midwife who coaches nature. I endeavor to help individuals befriend their basic humanity, in all of its messiness and ambiguity. Together, as we do the work of disarming and holding, we may carve out an authentic path toward transformation.
This question has always eluded me. As someone who sees the process of therapy not as a troubleshooting exercise, but rather as a venture to develop, grow, and become more conscious and aware, it feels counterintuitive to focus so heavily on the “presenting problem,” as it were.
Ultimately, people come to therapy because they are suffering in some capacity. The form that that suffering takes -- whether it is addiction or anxiety or anything else -- is never the bottom line issue. It may sound scary to think that our “brokenness” runs deeper than its surface-level presentation. However, the beauty is that, regardless of its manifestation, our pain mobilizes the search for something greater. In my work, I have come to recognize that, underneath all of the “pathology,” we are all searching for the same things ultimately -- love, peace, wholeness, acceptance, divinity. So, perhaps this is all a long-winded way of saying that, regardless of how your particular pain is manifesting, I believe that we can work together. 
That said, if you are interested in reading a bit more about some of the issues that individuals have brought to me recently, please feel free to visit the Recent Work section of this site.
Ideally, I like to do therapeutic work in person. Because there is something so vital about the transmission of “beingness” that is not experienced in quite the same way over the phone, I prefer a face-to-face encounter. However, I also understand that in-person work is not always feasible; therefore, I am open to exploring other possibilities for connection. In person I see individuals (adults and adolescents), couples, and, on occasion, I facilitate groups.
If you have any questions or are interested in scheduling a session, please contact me.


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