Individual Counseling in Bethesda & Reston

Individual Counseling

individual therapyDr. Carlos Durana offers individual counseling as well as telephone consultations in Reston, VA and Bethesda, MD. His approach is based on a resource model of growth and healing.

Effective individual counseling / therapy provides a safe and supportive workspace where you, the client, can experience and think through problems, experiment with potential solutions and gain information and skills within the context of a helpful and caring relationship. Dr. Durana’s model:

• Uses research evidence to guide effective practice.
• Utilizes your strengths and resources to generate solutions and growth.Is based on self-acceptance and positive regard for self and others.
• Assumes that we can change most easily from a position of strength
• Is flexible in choosing the therapeutic method that best fits you.
• Is practical and educational, emphasizing ways to help oneself in everyday life.
• Is holistic in nature by acknowledging the importance of the connection between body, mind and emotions.


Dr. Durana emphasizes what has works rather than what has failed, elicits strengths, resources, and competencies. By assuming that we can change most easily from a position of strength, not failure, problem solving is facilitated and self-esteem enhanced. By looking at what is right with folks, what works or has worked for them in the past and by identifying assets in what people say and do, peoples’ capacity for healing can be promoted.

Research has shown that there are four factors in determining success in individual counseling. The most important element determining about forty percent of the overall success in the client is the client’s capacity for growth and self-healing. Every person has strengths and resources; these may include beliefs, values, feelings, skills, knowledge, experience, abilities, relational capacity, and so on. Effective individual therapy helps clients marshal their resources.

Contact Us

4933 Auburn Ave, Suite #208,
Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 654-0100

11417 Tanbark Drive
Reston, VA 20191
(703) 716-0906

11367 Sunset Hills Rd.,
Suite #2, Reston, Virginia, 20190
(703) 408-4965

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Dr. Carlos Durana

healing servicesCarlos Durana, Ph.D., M.Ac. is a licensed clinical psychologist and counselor with over twenty five years of experience in the field of individual and couples counseling. He is also experienced in areas of complementary medicine that help enhance mindfulness, wellness, and life management. His approach is based on acceptance and regard for others; it is practical, educational, and holistic. Read More…


Some forms of counseling and learning place emphasis on what is wrong with the person (pathologizing), or what is the hidden cause of the problem and what can be done to fix it. Although sometimes helpful, Dr. Durana has found that this approach has many drawbacks. For example, when a person is called phobic about relationships, this label and the associated lack of competencies can act as barriers that may prevent fully understanding the person; the label may threaten and cause defenses. Dr. Durana believes that a person is much more than a label. It is much more useful, in this example, to say that the person has forgotten how to relate because of past disappointments. Thinking this way about oneself can then facilitate self-understanding, self-acceptance and self-love. As a therapist, Dr. Durana, located in Reston, Virginia and Bethesda, Maryland, believes that thinking in this fashion about the client may assist one in avoiding getting into a rut, trying to “fix” the person. How we think about what goes on with ourselves and with another person is of utmost importance.

It is valuable to find out what has not worked, but it is more valuable to find out what has worked so that it can be enhanced and used; for example, in what periods of our lives were we most ourselves, when and how did we make the best decisions, and so on. Dr. Durana’s approach facilitates self-discovery, personal responsibility, personal control and problem solving. It is based on the premise that people possess the ability to uncover resources and directions for growth in life, and it is founded upon a faith and an interest in everyone’s personal worth, competence and lovability.

Dr. Durana believes that it is the job of the therapist to help the client uncover their resources and potential for growth, and to provide the conditions under which successful counseling can take place, but it is the client that makes therapy work, not the therapist or the technique.

The Client-Therapist Relationship

The second most important factor in successful individual therapy is the working alliance developed by the client and the therapist. This relationship is another resource that you, the client, can mobilize for healing and growth. A few of the essential qualities displayed by an effective counselor are warmth, empathy, caring, interest in and respect for you as a person (your ideas and feelings), genuineness, and encouragement in trying out new solutions. The relationship can provide a safe and supportive space where you, the client, can take the time to experience and think through problems, generate new perspectives, experiment with potential solutions, gain information and skills, receive feedback and experience mastery over your problems.


In a collaborative and caring relationship, through the meeting of minds and hearts, Dr. Durana listens and engages rather than “treating” or “fixing”. Gradually, a confiding relationship develops where you can feel safer in exploring deeper areas of concern. Even those who may not be ready or even willing to engage in deeper self-exploration, will nonetheless benefit from this caring relationship and may discover new resources, gain skills and knowledge.

Dr. Durana is effective because he understands and empathizes with what is most important for you, and how much you are willing to engage and to learn; in this regard, you set the agenda. Counselor and client agreement of goals and tasks to be performed is a good predictor of successful outcome. In the end, if you, the client, see the product of the individual counseling as a result of your own best efforts and have accepted responsibility for the changes, then the results are more likely to endure.

Client Expectancy and Hope

Most people seeking individual therapy are not “sick” in the medical sense but they may be experiencing mental and emotional pain, they may be frustrated and discouraged about not reaching their life goals or they may not be functioning optimally. Dr. Durana has found that often people persevere in using old strategies even when those are not working, or avoiding and denying the problem; sometimes they may not have someone to listen in a caring way so that they can take the time to stand back from the problem and contemplate solutions. People often seek help after feeling demoralized in their own problem solving efforts or might even feel stuck and powerless about changing things. However, the act of doing individual therapy shows a new determination to get better, the “I can do it” sense; this is an act of hope.


Good therapy fosters this type of thinking. Effective therapy offers hope that something can be done to improve one’s condition. The techniques and methods of Dr. Durana’s counseling offered at his practice offices in Reston, VA and Bethesda, MD, enhance pathways for experiencing and thinking about problems. A client’s perception of the problem and their hope about how to ameliorate it is the third important factor in determining the success of counseling. A belief in the restorative power of the individual counseling helps facilitate progress. Attending to what is functional in the client’s life, and enhancing the client’s strengths, resources and capacities to cope effectively within a context of care and respect helps generate optimistic expectations that change will occur and that the client has the competency and power to promote recovery and change.

Change is usually a step-by-step process of trying out new things over successive times. In everyday life, people change through normal processes of thinking about a problem, exploring and experimenting with solutions and receiving feedback from the environment; out of this come new perspectives and experiences, which then lead to new solutions and explorations. These are natural self-righting mechanisms, that when promoted, generate hopefulness in the pursuit of goals.

Individual therapy can be helpful for most individuals. Therapy research findings suggest that beneficial effects can be achieved in 5-10 sessions with at least fifty percent of clients. For twenty to thirty percent, more than 25 sessions may be required. Clients who are very hostile, poorly motivated, have a history of poor relationships or expect to be passive recipients of a medical procedure are more likely not to benefit.

The last factor of therapeutic success contributing about fifteen percent of the total benefit refers to the methods or techniques used in therapy. The client factor described earlier contributes about forty percent, client/therapist relationship about thirty percent and hopeful expectancy about fifteen percent. More important than the technique or method is how you, the client, use the approach. You are the primary healing factor. Healing and growth occurs through the client’s self-healing or self-actualizing potential. The techniques and methods of therapy can help mobilize it, along with hope, and the therapist’s supportive contributions. The magic is in you, the client.

Methods or Models of Individual Therapy or Individual Counseling

Dr. Durana makes use of several therapeutic methods at his offices in Reston, VA and Bethesda, MD. These approaches can be thought of as different ways of learning. Some of us are best in utilizing thought processes, others work best through experiencing feelings and emotions, others benefit more by focusing on behavioral changes and action (communication skills, learning new behaviors, etc,); some benefit greatly by focusing on body awareness and the relationship between body signals and personal concerns. There’s not one best approach, it is best to use the method most suitable for you, the client. There are individuals who gain deeper access to themselves through mindfulness. More than one approach can be used and different methods can be used at different stages of therapy. I will briefly describe a few:


Cognitive behavioral therapy: As human being, we have beliefs about everything. Beliefs are part of our self-image, sense of self, philosophy of life, our way of relating, etc. We interpret reality through our beliefs. Many of life’s problems arise out of faulty or limiting beliefs, for example, “I am unworthy”, “I am unlovable”, and “people are untrustworthy”, etc. If I believe that I am inferior and people are hostile, I may not strive towards solving my problems (faulty beliefs and a generalization) and instead develop compensatory ways of coping (avoiding, withdrawing, etc.). Beliefs can be noticed in our inner self-talk and in our evaluations of ourselves and others; they become automatic thought patterns that distort our experience. If I believe that I am inadequate and I get a good grade, I may discount it; instead of valuing my efforts, I may dismiss my achievement by saying to myself “well, that comes easy anyway” or “I should be doing better.” Cognitive behavioral approaches help clients identify and transform problematic beliefs intoadaptive and healthy ones. These approaches are very helpful with depression, anxiety, health related concerns, coping with illnesses, personality disorders, addictions, etc.

Emotionally based approaches:A common problem is the avoidance; or denial of certain emotions and feelings. We may make excessive use of certain emotions and suppress others, thus creating inner conflicts. This can be problematic in our personal life as well as in our relationships. Dr. Durana, who practices in Reston, VA and Bethesda, MD, believes that all emotions have a purpose and a role in life. The ability to be emotionally open to another human being is essential in the development of intimate relationships. Emotions can open us to our needs, affirm our worth, facilitate communication and problem solving, and promote marital satisfaction and love. Information processing seems to occur through the interaction of a rational system and an experiential (emotionally driven) system. The rational system uses logic and causal connections; the experiential system works more through metaphors, images, holism, and pleasure-pain considerations. Our deeper core beliefs about ourselves are emotionally encoded. Techniques that evoke our experience of emotions are also particularly helpful in effectively enhancing motivation, commitment and determination in the effort to achieve our goals and resolve our problems. Emotionally based approaches also help clients enhance awareness of emotions and appraisals, and gain acceptance of experience, as well as facilitating the integration of emotion and action; commonly used in both individual and couples therapy.

Mindfulness therapy: Mindfulness refers to being conscious or aware of something; thus, doing something mindfully entails doing it with awareness. More broadly, mindfulness is a quality of attention characterized by curiosity, openness, non-judgment and acceptance. It is an open and receptive attention to what is happening in the present as opposed to our habitual and automatic ways of mental processing that attend to the past or the future, missing important aspects of our experience. Dr. Durana’s mindfulness practices teach clients to understand themselves in a non-judgmental way, and to develop an inner stillness that is essential as a way of standing back from a problem to get a wider and deeper perspective. Through mindfulness, we can develop a healthier relationship to our problems or illnesses. This meditative approach is excellent for dealing with anxiety, depression, pain, illnesses and other disorders. Mindfulness can also help a client connect with deeper dimensions of being, what some may describe as soul, spirit our core awareness.

Body-centered approaches to individual therapy and Holism: Common to body-centered approaches to individual therapy is the assumption that change is possible by working through the body. It also involves the idea that there is a unity between body and mind (holism). Dr. Durana’s experience is that it is impossible to separate the mind and body. Instead of viewing the mind in a hierarchical position above the body, they are both interactive aspects of the whole person. By becoming more in touch with how we are organized in our bodies, we can learn about our limited beliefs and counterproductive ways of being. In addition, Dr. Durana’s body-centered approach which he offers at Reston, VA and Bethesda, MD can illuminate the connections that exist between stress, coping style and physical symptoms or illnesses. Traumas can also be addressed with these methods. Dr. Durana’s body-centered approaches make use of sensation-based awareness to support change. Finally, an increase in vitality, wholeness and enlivened ways of being may also be a by-product.