Dr. Thom Stanger, Ph.D.

A beach with the sun setting in the background.
Sunrise at Virginia Beach (Doug Ash, photographer)

My Core Philosophy/Approach

In my 25+ years of practicing psychotherapy, I have dealt with many different types of issues and presenting circumstances. I always look for and inevitably find that people are more than their self-limiting issues, perceptions or diagnostic labels/conceptual boxes (be they self-imposed or by another professional). The key ingredient is the discipline to focus on how to look for and utilize potential and existing strengths within. Once discovered, an individual realizes further empowerment to heal and self-actualize. Whether I have seen an issue once or a hundred times before, I approach each person as though they are my first. This customary mindset keeps me attuned, with a fresh perspective on the person sitting in front of me.

For me, the foundation of good therapy is the therapist’s capability to establish and nourish an ideal: healthy human interaction characterized by trust, non-judgmental understanding, respect, honesty, collaboration, and acceptance. I have worked with people for as little as a few sessions – those who just need a jump-start to get on with living better – to years for those who need more of a major reconciliation for themselves (often victims of extreme abuse or complex trauma). Being instrumental in a process that cultivates real life enhancement makes this work truly rewarding (I couldn’t imagine doing anything else for a living).

When seeking a therapist, potential clients often want to know about therapeutic orientation. I am an ardent integrationist. I have intertwined many theories and approaches, learned and personalized over my years, and I continue to study and research as the utility for new approaches and information comes to the fore.  I embrace the “Big 3” —psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, and humanistic, which I believe any good therapy utilizes, regardless of which therapeutic cohort one most identifies with. There are many offshoots of those. Among my favorites, to name a few, are interpersonal, experiential, Ericksonian hypnotherapy, somatic and solution-focused. 

I always consult with clients on the phone before they choose to see me. I am open to questions about how I work, my experience and expertise, and how I think I can help.