My Approaches and Modalities
Gestalt therapy is an here-and-now, experiential, and body-centered form of psychotherapy. Gestalt encompasses many overlapping principles centered around how we as organisms experience being alive, and how we adapt and organize ourselves internally and externally to get needs met, survive, and grow. We are constantly unfolding in interaction with the field around us. We build an embodied awareness of self, understand how the stories we tell about ourselves are limiting us, explore how our wounds impact our whole system, take right-sized responsibility for ourselves, and find our aliveness and growth instinct underneath all the familial and cultural conditioning. We look at how hierarchy impacts us and focus on I-thou relating. We learn to ask for contact, intimacy, accompaniment, allyship, and other external support. We experiment with finding new ways to meet needs. We embrace any resistance to change as central to growth. Read more about Gestalt here.
AF-EMDR, or Attachment-focused Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is an effective form of therapy for all kinds of trauma. Currently, many therapists use tactile and sound stimulation (buzzers held in the hands and tones heard through earphones) rather than just eye movements. Along with a protocol of steps led by the therapist, the bi-lateral (right-left) stimulation kick starts innate healing mechanisms of the brain and nervous system (like in REM sleep) to reprocess traumas, dissolve the "charge," and integrate the memory so that events are appropriately in the past and no longer shaping our day-to-day responses to stimulus. Sometimes reprocessing happens quickly, other times it takes longer. I take a history so that I can estimate how much time will be needed, and we build in attachment resources before we reprocess memories or traumas. AF-EMDR (Parnell Institute) is different from traditional EMDR. Read more about AF-EMDR here.
Internal Family Systems therapy founded by Richard Schwartz is a unique and powerful approach that deeply understands how our natural multiplicity (parts of selves) have, through wounding and over time, become extreme in their expressions and purposes, carry burdens, and cover up our core, the Self, a universal state of being that is compassionate, creative, and wise. We learn to heal wounded parts by leading from Self while accompanied by a therapist. Healing happens through an unburdening process once protector parts are able to step back and let Self lead.
Sand Tray is a tactile, immersive, and symbolically rich form of therapy in which we choose from an array of figurines and objects to express and understand our inner world and psyche, like a dream in 3D that we can see from above for distance, or enter into more deeply. It can feel like "playing with toys in a sandbox;" meanwhile, deep access to the right brain and non-verbal states is happening that can significantly release traumas, shift us out of left-brain dominant conditioning, and integrate our experiences, whether past and present.
A Note on Talk Therapy- Traditional talk therapy is mainly a left-brain activity. People can feel afraid to talk about their trauma for good reason, because language by itself does not gain distance from the harmful stimulus that happened to them. Other people with trauma talk in circles, without any long-term relief or change. Right-brained therapies such as those above or those using body awareness, movement, and art, for example, help link up language with information from the senses and emotions so trauma responses can be integrated. When a therapist’s language is accurately attuned, clients do seem to be able to link up their body knowing with the matching language. I often ask clients to check in with sensations, impulses, and feelings to help link body and mind and discover needs. When I am let in on what is happening in the body, my own intuition comes in more readily.