Therapy with Deborah Hecker, PhD

Deborah Hecker is a Psychologist in private practice in Washington DC specializing in helping clients navigate the relationships within their lives. Dr. Hecker works with both individuals and couples on divorce/separation issues, as well as more general mental health challenges, including anxiety and depression. Dr. Hecker also has particular expertise in psychoanalysis, which she uses in sessions to help clients discover deep-rooted insecurities and patterns that may be getting in the way of their overall wellbeing and relationships.

We asked Dr. Hecker more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.

Dr. Hecker’s specialties and therapy philosophies

What guiding principles inform your work?

I am a relationship expert who focuses on attachment and psychodynamic theories. I have developed a relationship model I call "Yours, Mine, Ours: Relationships Done Right." In order to create a successful partnership, two things need to happen: Each partner must have a clearly defined individual identity ("I") and they must learn how to bring that individual identity into the relationship ("We"). I help people to define themselves and teach them what excellent partnering is all about.

What clientele do you work with most frequently?

I work with individuals and couples. In addition, I have specific expertise working with divorcing people and entrepreneurs. For each of these demographics I have authored books: Who Am I Without My Partner? Post-Divorce Healing And Rediscovering Your SELF and Torn Between Two Loves: How Entrepreneurs Can Commit To Both Business And Significant Others.

Divorcing people need to do two things: grieve their marriage and develop an identity as a non-partnered person. Entrepreneurs are "married" to businesses and often relegate their personal relationship to second place, so I help them find a balance.

Can you tell us more about your specialty in helping people navigate the relationships in their lives?

A relationship can only be as good as the individuals in it. Ideally, early-parenting practices help us to become independent and self-reliant adults. However, parenting is not perfect, and children can develop dependency-related issues that they carry into their adult relationships. I help people not to "act out" those dependency needs, which will inevitably cause problems in their later relationships, and instead replace acting out with a stronger ability to rely on oneself and develop independence.

I am trained as a psychoanalyst and a couples' counselor. That means I have a good understanding of both intrapsychic ("I") dynamics and interpersonal ("We") dynamics. I have the ability to identify the problematic behaviors that each person brings into the relationship, how those behaviors get played out, and then offer constructive solutions to replace the problem behaviors.

Therapy sessions with Dr. Hecker

What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?

I will pay close attention to your reasons for seeking my help and will likely ask you to elaborate on certain areas. After gathering information, I will give you feedback and recommendations. It is also important to me that I answer any questions you may have so that you can get to know me.

How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?

I am not a passive participant in the therapy. I take extensive notes during each session so that I am on top of your progress and can make the proper associations and interventions. I will know if you are making progress by the behavioral changes you make, and we address these behaviors in an ongoing way.

How do I know that it’s time to start seeking therapy?

When you feel stuck in the same place and keep repeating the same problematic behaviors, it is time. Don't ignore your pain.

Why should I seek therapy, rather than turning to my partner, friends, or other loved ones?

While helpful and supportive, your family and friends are biased and cannot be objective the way a third party can be.

What advice would you share with therapy seekers?

The most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself. A great therapist will help you develop insight about you.

Visit Dr. Hecker’s profile to watch her introductory video, read more about her, and book an initial call!