Slight shifts in imagination have more impact on living than major efforts at change. –Thomas Moore
I specialize in trauma, addiction and grief and loss - as this pretty much covers the gamut of human experience. Nobody gets through life unscathed (trauma); we don't always cope well (addiction); and we find our way to health and well-being by making peace with ourselves and others (grief work). Some of the ways that these issues show up in our lives are anxiety, depression, anger, identity crises, low self-esteem, and/or strained relationships.
If this sounds like you, therapy can help! While we can’t undo the past, we can change how we think about and relate to all that has transpired. I will help you to gain acceptance, release yourself from the past, feel good about yourself in the present, and cultivate the life that you want. I will teach you easy to learn skills that will improve your relationships and your abilities to handle whatever life throws at you.
Therapy shouldn’t be a mystery. Change is possible and it’s not as hard as you think! I will explain the ‘why’ behind every intervention and together, we will discover what works best for you. I get results. If you’re willing to put in the effort, I can guide you towards lasting change and fulfillment in a relatively short amount of time.
There is no passion to be found in playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. —Nelson Mandela
Traumatic events can make your life seem small and scary. You may begin to believe the negative, limiting (and often false) ideas about yourself, others and the world. Your capacity for relationship diminishes because you no longer feel safe. It becomes harder to trust. You feel like you have no control, and must guard against ‘bad things’ ever happening again. Perhaps you can’t get the experience out of your head. You find yourself thinking about it at inopportune times or it haunts you in your sleep. Maybe you can no longer go to certain places or be around certain people for fear of being reminded of the event(s). You blame yourself. You are crippled by feelings of guilt and shame or consumed by anger.
These are all symptoms of unresolved trauma. It’s normal and it doesn’t have to be your life. You don’t have to stay stuck in the trauma responses, telling yourself to ‘just get over it.’ As an experienced trauma therapist, I will work with you to strengthen your capacity to tolerate the emotional distress related to your trauma. The first thing that we will do together is establish safety, trust, and self-empowerment.
Some people benefit from telling their trauma stories in detail; others don’t. Together, we will explore what is the best course of action for you. I will always respect your boundaries and your pacing. I will explain every step of the way: what we are doing and ‘the why’ behind how it helps you. In turn, this will increase your personal sense of control and self-efficacy (confidence in your ability to handle your life). Two superpowers in overcoming traumatization.
Traumatization creates a vicious loop in our minds. We end up living in fear of being ‘triggered’ or reminded of our trauma because the feelings, thoughts and images or memories are so overwhelming. I use a combination of cognitive-based mindfulness, narrative and somatic (body-based) interventions that are validated and well-researched to promote a return to health. In addition, I believe that post-traumatic growth is possible. This is a phenomenon related to overcoming adversity in which we develop greater resilience and appreciation for life. People who have undergone post-traumatic growth experience positive change in areas related to personal strength, relationship to their body, connection with others, perspective on life’s problems, and spirituality.
Healing is possible.
Just 'cause you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town. –George Carlton
Through my experience counseling others, I believe that addiction is a symptom of deeper issues. There are many reasons people become addicted but at its core, abusing drugs and alcohol is (or was) a coping mechanism. Either it dulled the pain – physical or emotional - or it made us feel alive. Sometimes, we become numb to our pain and we are desperate just to feel again.
Addiction takes on a life of its own. What once soothed and nullified us has become the proverbial monkey on our backs. But, our instinct was always towards health and wholeness. We were ‘medicating’ ourselves because our intuition knows that when something hurts, it needs to heal.
Recovery is more than just sobriety. It is a lifestyle and a way of being in the world. This may sound daunting but through therapy, you can learn the skills and tools to successfully manage your recovery. Drawing from mindfulness practices, I will help you learn to recognize your triggers and develop healthy coping mechanisms. We will build on your strengths and values. I will support you to create the life that you want without the crutch and to understand what led you down the path of addiction. You can do this!
I bring a safe, open-minded, compassionate, non-judgmental approach to therapy. I will work with you and support the path that you choose, whether that be harm reduction strategies or a more traditional 12-step program. I often joke that if there was a one-size-fits-all approach to recovery, I would have written the book and retired to the islands. But since there’s not, let's empower you to take back your life. You deserve to be healthy, happy, and in control.
Everybody needs to take some time, in some way, to quiet themselves and really listen to their heart.
Mindfulness is about present moment awareness. It is a powerful tool for eliciting change. The benefits of mindfulness are well documented and supported by the latest neuroscience research. Mindfulness-based forms of therapy have proven effective in preventing the recurrence of depression; in preventing relapse among substance abusers; in reducing stress and anxiety symptoms in patients with medical conditions; in managing chronic pain conditions and can help people move more quickly through the stages of grief (Walser, et al 2007).
If you want or already have a meditation practice, I can support you in developing or deepening your practice. But a formal meditation practice is not required to reap the benefits of mindfulness. If you can breathe, you can practice mindfulness. By using the breath to stay connected to the present moment, we gain greater awareness of our thoughts, feelings and behaviors as they are actually happening. This is powerful stuff because ‘as it is actually happening’ is the exact time that we want to change old, destructive habits for healthier, more adaptive behaviors.
With greater clarity and self-understanding, you will be empowered to make choices that better align with your values and goals. Every time you do this, your brain is making new connections that support your growth and recovery. It might sound very complicated, but learning and practicing present moment awareness is easy. Mindfulness doesn’t require a large time commitment from you either, unlike a more formal meditation practice. Allow me to guide you through the process so that you can harness the power of awareness for yourself.