My philosophy is simple: I believe that healthy, secure, connected relationships with ourselves, and others, is essential to achieving a balanced life with meaning and purpose.
In contrast however, the opposite is exponentially true—when our relationships to self and others are unhealthy, insecure, and painful everything in life is more difficult and seemingly less possible.
That's where I come in.
I want you to thrive in your life, not just get by, or worse, suffer. I will help you understand what’s really going on in your life and relationships, and discover what's in the way and how to move what needs moving or build what needs building. My work with you will be authentic, dynamic and focused. We won't get stuck telling your story without finding a solution to what troubles you.
My style is relational, supportive, direct, engaging, motivating and kind. I bring lots of personality to my work and whether I work with you individually or as a couple, if you're willing to put in the effort, I'll help you find a way out of seemingly impossible places.
Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS)
I am level one trained in IFS (Internal Family Systems Therapy), developed by Dr Richard Schwartz. IFS is an evidence-based psychotherapy model that starts with the premise that it’s normal for all of us to have a number of sub-personalities (called parts in IFS) as well as a deeper Self energy. IFS parts work is a way of understanding yourself and shifting stuck patterns. We work compassionately with all parts, to understand and ultimately heal them through connection with your Self energy. IFS holds the belief that all parts are welcome, that there are no bad parts, and that we all have a Self energy within us that is our true guide. When we access our Self energy we feel a sense of compassion, curiosity, calmness, clarity, courage, creativity, and connectedness. IFS helps people connect with parts that are causing them stress (inner critic, procrastinator), and also helps them release (unburden) parts that are causing them pain (anxious parts, angry parts, and fearful parts).
Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT)
I am level two trained in PACT (Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy), developed by Dr. Stan Tatkin. PACT is an integration of attachment theory, arousal regulation, and developmental neuroscience, and is guided by the principle of secure-functioning relationships. Regardless of one’s attachment history, a secure-functioning relationship is attainable. I help Couples learn how to create true mutuality, safety and security, justice, fairness, and win wins for both partners.
PACT is a bottom-up approach, meaning the therapist focuses on moment-to-moment changes in the couple. Interventions are staged to help couples discover in real time how they are struggling and to experiment with different ways to interact and notice each other with safety and security in mind.
All of my work is inspired and informed by my extensive and ongoing training in psychology, attachment theory, neuroscience and biology. Here's a brief description of each of these areas and how they are valuable in therapy:
Attachment Theory helps us understand how early bonding experiences create a blueprint (for better or worse) for all our future primary adult relationships. My study in this area of psychology allows me to help you identify problems related to attachment and restore safety and security to a suffering self or relationship.
Neuroscience simply refers to the study of the human brain. Exciting new technology and research in this area have improved our ability to understand how human brains respond to relational injuries as well as repairs, making individualized and effective treatment even more possible.
Arousal Theory (Biology):
Arousal Theory explains one's ability to manage physical energy, alertness and readiness to engage. For example, how well do you fight? Do you get too overwhelmed and blank out or do you go into a rage and stay angry for days? How well do you relax? Do you relax easily with your partner or do you turn to shopping, substances or the Internet to help yourself unwind? These behaviors have a major impact on the quality of our relationships and are often the stuff we fight about most.
Your nervous system constantly takes in sensory information and responds accordingly. When there is no perceived threat to your safety, you feel calm, can likely breathe easily and your heartbeat is slower. You may have heard the terms "fight or flight'; these are the mobility responses of the nervous system. When the nervous system senses danger and rings the alarm like a smoke detector, can you move into mobility (fight or flight) to stay alive?
Sometimes fight or flight isn't an option when what we're faced with completely overwhelms us. When this happens, we can go into a free state or a state of mental and/or physical immobility, like a gazelle playing dead when a hungry lion outruns it. This inability to respond or complete our natural, self-protective mobility responses (fight or flight) can result in survival energy getting trapped in our nervous system.
Imagine your nervous system is like your hand. Notice when your hand is relaxed and open it is able to move easily and complete all kinds of tasks. Now make it tight fist and notice the energy it takes to keep that hand closed and the fingers tight, and how other parts of your body have also likely tensed with your hand such as your stomach. Your hand is not able to do as much in this position, and the tension in your body may be uncomfortable (and familiar).
Overtime our nervous system can spend so much time and fight, flight or freeze these states become the default setting making it even hard to move into a state of rest and relaxation, even when we want to. Cumulative cycles of unreleased survival energy also build up over time and can affect learning and memory, and cause health concerns such as high blood pressure, heart disease and weight gain.
So how do you know what state your nervous system is in? Symptoms of a dysregulated nervous system can include:
• Being easily startled
• Feeling numb emotionally and physically
• Addiction including substances or behaviors such as gambling and shopping
• Feeling ‘spacey’ and disconnected
• Post-traumatic stress
• Occupational stress
• Relationships issues
• Chronic pain
• Joint and muscle pain / tension not resulting from injury
• Dizziness or vertigo
Trauma and chronic stress are one of the biggest causes of nervous system dysregulation. Trauma does not necessarily result from the action, situation or circumstance but how we responded or were able to respond at the time. Trauma can emerge from:
• Childhood sexual, emotional or physical abuse
• Ruptures in attachment/attunement with primary caregivers
• Abusive or neglecting relationships
• Illness (i.e., medical condition, addiction or mental health concerns) in our primary caregiver(s)
• Directly witnessing the hurt or harm of others
• Motor vehicle accidents
• Occupational stress injuries
• Death of loved one
• Near death experiences
• Worksite injuries
• Fall or near falls
• War and escape from war torn countries
• Sexual harassment
• Pre and perinatal (before and during birth) issues