compassionate & informed
therapy to safely release trauma
Internal Family Systems therapy founded by Richard Schwartz is a gently powerful approach that understands that we have a natural multiplicity, or many parts, and a core or essence, a Self, that holds qualities necessary for healing. Studies in neuroscience suggest that multiplicity is our inherent design. Driven by formative experiences in life, our parts become prone to being extreme in position and outlook, and get polarized with each other. These are Protectors, and they employed strategies to survive. Other more sensitive and open parts absorbed, and continue to carry, the burdens that came into them from the lived experiences, and these are Exiles, or Wounded Ones. Exiles have been pushed down, so they wish to be deeply and completely seen, heard, and understood before they can be unburdened, and Self is a universal state of being that is able to witness Exiles in the way that they need. Protectors make room for Self to accompany wounded parts as they release what they carry, and gradually the whole system becomes more bonded with Self, unified, and harmonious. Parts work may feel like imagination, and there's no reason to not think of it that way, but it is for many people a very real, natural, and intuitive process.
Gestalt therapy is foundational for many therapies that formed after it, including IFS. It is an experiential and body-centered approach that starts with simple awareness of how we as organisms experience being alive, and how we adapt and organize ourselves internally and externally to get needs met, maintain homeostasis, survive, and grow. The power of gestalt, much like yoga or meditation, is in the practice of it, of letting go of interpreting with our mind and coming into the senses, into the here-and-now, and tracking impulses and conditioned responses. Projecting or relating from social conditioning are barriers to authenticity, and engaging in I-Thou contact frees us to notice constructs and be ourselves. The quality of our boundary in relationships, our inner parts, and the polarities in and out of the system become clear. We may externalize our inner life with psycho-drama to resolve polarities and unfinished business. The moment-to-moment awarenesses of how we carry ourselves and get needs and wants met makes way for choice and change on an embodied level.
Sand Tray is a tactile, immersive, and symbolically rich process using an array of figurines and objects to express the inner world and psyche, like a dream in 3D that we can see from above or at a distance, or enter into more deeply. It can feel like "playing with toys in a sandbox;" meanwhile, this externalizing activity helps us to shift out of left-brain dominant conditioning and deeper into right brain and non-verbal states. Moving these figures around helps us experiment with reorganizing ourselves internally.
AF-EMDR, or Attachment-focused Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a method that uses various kinds of bi-lateral (right-left) stimulation including but not limited to eye movements to lower or eliminate the charge of a trauma in the nervous system (desensitization) and subsequently integrate it into long-term memory (reprocess), where it will no longer shape day-to-day responses to stimuli. A protocol of steps plus the stimulation kick starts innate healing mechanisms of the brain and nervous system (like in REM sleep where eyes are seen to move). AF-EMDR (Parnell Institute) adds connecting to attachment figures to facilitate the original EMDR process.