Counseling

I have been doing counseling and psychotherapy with adults, couples, groups, families, teens and pre-teens since 1993 and have helped people improve problems with: “normal neurosis” (normal life problems), stress, self-esteem, anxiety, trauma, depression, relationships, family, sexuality, anger and violence, school, Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, personality disorders, dissociative disorders (trauma-related black-outs), Traumatic-Brain Injuries, Developmental Disabilities and more.
 
I get to know you and your unique needs, so we can discover together the best way for you to be counseled! My work as a therapist is most influenced by:
 
Client-Centered Psychotherapy (CCT) is a non-directive approach that doesn’t try to diagnosis, interpretation, evaluate, or “figure-out” a client unless someone asks for feed-back or guidance in a certain area. I operate from the premise that people tend to move toward growth and healing, and have the capacity to discover answers on their own. Research has not only shown CCT to be an effective form of therapy; but it has proven that it is actually the relationship between the client and the therapist that is the most influential factor in the effectiveness of therapy, not the particular type of therapy. CCT is a Humanistic approach that strives to meet a client’s own goals and values for self-actualization.
 
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most recognized, accepted and proven forms of traditional therapy. It focuses on changing one’s thoughts in order to change one’s feelings and behaviors. I use CBT to help clients change automatic negative thoughts and belief- systems that may be causing emotional distress, unwanted behaviors or other problems in their lives. I have trained with Donald Meichenbaum, the founder of Cognitive Behavior Modification and considered one of the founders of CBT.  
 
Trauma therapies can help to not get so easily “re-triggered” by specific reminders from our past, and not get so easily over-whelmed and anxious by normal life-stressors. Research has proven that it is these body-centered therapies that can provide the long-term resolution of trauma that supplements and medications do not. This is done by literally re-training our nervous system’s Fight, Flight or Freeze response so we don’t get so easily angry, avoid certain situations and conflicts, or emotionally withdraw and “check-out.” I have done multiple trainings with both Peter Levine, the founder of Somatic Experiencing, and Bessel van der Kolk, the most published and recognized trauma-expert in the world.
 
Exposure Therapy has been proven to be the most effective form of treatment for many stress-related and anxiety-related issues. Clients learn stress-management techniques to better calm themselves, then slowly expose themselves to progressively more stressful situations in order to learn to over-come fear and avoidance. This is done with imagery desensitization (imagining the stressful situations), role-playing and other techniques (to prepare for the situation), and real-life desensitization. It can help with communication problems, relationship and dating problems, fear of public-speaking, teen peer-pressures, family conflicts, phobias, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and more.
 
Somatic Psychology is a form of therapy that focuses on the body (“soma” is Greek for “body”). I integrate traditional forms of talk-therapy with mindfulness and movement exercises (if and when a clients wants that option). Many sessions look like traditional counseling sessions. Other times, I give exercises to practice between sessions that can increase the effectiveness of the therapy sessions. Or most of the session may be focused on how the client’s psychological patterns manifest in the body. We might focus on changing the client’s mind first and the body changes secondarily; or we might work to change the client’s body patterns first and the mind can change with the body. It depends on the client’s specific needs, but treating both mind and body is the common thread. This aspect of my work has been most influenced by my training with Christine Caldwell (the founder of Naropa Univeristy’s Somatic Psychology program), as well as other pioneers in body-based psychotherapies. 
 
Dance/Movement Therapy is a form of somatic psychology, as well as an expressive-arts (or creative-arts) therapy. Just as a client’s facial expressions, breathing patterns and posture may reflect that client’s psychological issues; so does a client’s ways of moving and being in the world. Movement sessions may be structured as non-verbal psychotherapy in which a client’s psychological issues are explored and resolved by working directly with the postural and movement patterns that reflect the psychological issues of the client. Other sessions may be structured as more expressive arts therapy: exploring and expanding a client’s self-expression through dance (which can expand corresponding mental health issues) or increasing a client’s energy level, creativity, aliveness or sense of freedom. I am most influenced by Mary Whitehouse’s use of Authentic Movement, or “being moved” by some transpersonal aspect within ourselves, and Trudi Schoop’s use of drama and dance performances about one’s personal psychological issues as a way to heal and integrate those issues within ourselves. (For more on Dance/ Movement Therapy, see “healing- arts.”) 
 
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a psycho-educational approach that teaches skills (Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotional Regulation, Distress Tolerance and Mindfulness) to both change the things that we want to improve and accept the things that we can’t yet change. DBT was originally developed to treat clients that had not improved with other forms of treatment, including medication. Although DBT is often best known for it’s proven effectiveness in treating the most difficult symptoms (chronic suicidality, severe trauma, self-mutilation, dissociative episodes/ black-outs), DBT has also been found to be very effective in treating less severe issues (including self-esteem, stress, anxiety, depression, mood-swings, substance abuse, eating-disorders, anger and violence problems). I completed an Intensive Training for DBT Teams with the founder of DBT- Marsha Lenehan’s- Behavioral Tech, LLC organization in 2010, and have trained other therapists and mental health professionals in DBT.
 
Mindfulness training is similar to meditation, even borrowing the word mindfulness from Buddhist Philosophy (though mindfulness training is not based on any religious or spiritual tradition). Mindfulness is the term used in psychology to describe a present-moment awareness practice in which every thought, feeling and sensation that arises in our attention is acknowledged and accepted as it is. We can train ourselves to focus our minds on what we want to focus on and learn to pay attention to those things that actually make us feel better, not worse. Mindfulness has been shown to be successful in helping: stress, pain, attention-problems, motivation problems, anxiety, trauma, depression, mood-swings, dissociative episodes/ blacks-outs, strengthen the immune system, increase positive emotions and more. 
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