Welcome

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

— Anaïs Nin

Welcome

Suzanne Manser, PhD | Licensed Psychologist

I am a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Northeast Portland, OR. My strongest specialties are in the treatment of people with eating disorders and anxiety. I also have extensive experience working with people who have depression, bipolar disorder, and relationship difficulties.

If you are considering working with me, My Services offers information about my practice, and My Blog gives a feel for how I approach various issues. If you are looking for help or increased understanding of eating disorders, body image issues, or general mental health issues, Resources is a good start. My Blog also has strategies for improving relationships with emotions, thoughts, and self.

My Expertise

Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders include Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder. The myth is that they are about ego and vanity. The reality is that they are attempts to feel emotionally safe and acceptable as a human. A person with an eating disorder uses food – eating too little, too much, getting rid of it, keeping records of it, focusing on it to an extreme degree, and/or being very, very regimented about it – as a tool to feeling emotional safety or comfort. Their ability to control food and make their body look the way they want it to become primary sources of self-esteem and worth. Their inability to control food and their body as they want to becomes a primary source of shame.

I have been working with people with eating disorders since 1999. Part of the work is understanding how the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors associated with the eating disorder create emotional safety for you. Then we will find healthier coping mechanisms. We will work on self-acceptance, cultivating other sources of self-esteem, and creating an identity that doesn’t revolve around the eating disorder.

Anxiety

Anxiety has many forms, but at its core it is a fear of what could happen. This fear is so significant that it prevents you from living life as you want. It may take the form of persistent worrying or planning, overthinking, rigidly avoiding feared situations, and/or a strong physiological reaction (e.g., an increase in heart rate, flushing, or shortness of breath). Rigidity in the way you think or behave, a need to be in control (especially of things you can’t actually control), and hypervigilance are other signs of anxiety.

I have been working with people with anxiety for over 20 years. Instead of worrying about or preparing for every situation, or whichever specific situations you focus on, we will cultivate trust that you can handle whatever comes up when it comes up. I will give you tools and strategies to manage anxiety-provoking situations. You will learn how to make room for anxiety, move away from unhelpful thoughts, and stay in the present.

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)

The primary therapeutic lens I use is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT focuses on helping us connect to what is meaningful in life and detach from what is unhelpful. It offers specific strategies for living a fulfilling life, managing painful emotions and unhelpful thoughts, and staying psychologically flexible. Mindfulness is one of the core components. ACT is an empirically validated treatment for eating disorders, depression, and various forms of anxiety, amongst other disorders (i.e., it has research to back it up).

I began my career steeped in the psychodynamic approach, and I still use it to develop insight about why we became who we became, but I didn’t find it useful enough in creating real-world change. When ACT was developed and I learned about it over 15 years ago, it resonated immediately. It is a holistic, practical approach to the challenges of life. I’ve seen it change lives in sustainable ways, mine included. It is the way I have come to approach myself and my life.

My Approach

I work collaboratively with each patient to help them define and move toward their goals for therapy. We work to develop insight about why they are the way they are. I also offer concrete strategies to make changes in how they relate to their feelings, thoughts, body, and/or themselves. Changing these relationships is how they move toward their specific goals.

There are two components that underlie most of my work: connecting to meaning and self-acceptance. Connecting to meaning is about identifying what you find fulfilling and bringing more of it into your life. It requires and fosters a connection to yourself. If you know what you hold most meaningful about life and can connect with it on a regular basis, we will be more effective in helping you move through hard moments and hard feelings.

Self-acceptance is a concept I am passionate about. Self-acceptance means that you don’t judge yourself for being human. You can have flaws and make mistakes and still be acceptable. You can have parts of yourself that you want to change and still accept them as they are today. If you accept yourself, your inner critic has no leverage. And it is attainable. The only obstacle is your belief that you have to be better, perfect, or enough (but not too much) before you are acceptable. I will help you work to uncover the knowledge that everything about you is acceptable right now.

My Approach

I work collaboratively with each patient to help them define and move toward their goals for therapy. We work to develop insight about why they are the way they are. I also offer concrete strategies to make changes in how they relate to their feelings, thoughts, body, and/or themselves. Changing these relationships is how they move toward their specific goals.

There are two components that underlie most of my work: connecting to meaning and self-acceptance. Connecting to meaning is about identifying what you find fulfilling and bringing more of it into your life. It requires and fosters a connection to yourself. If you know what you hold most meaningful about life and can connect with it on a regular basis, we will be more effective in helping you move through hard moments and hard feelings.

Self-acceptance is a concept I am passionate about. Self-acceptance means that you don’t judge yourself for being human. You can have flaws and make mistakes and still be acceptable. You can have parts of yourself that you want to change and still accept them as they are today. If you accept yourself, your inner critic has no leverage. And it is attainable. The only obstacle is your belief that you have to be better, perfect, or enough (but not too much) before you are acceptable. I will help you work to uncover the knowledge that everything about you is acceptable right now.