Working in depth
Many years in private practice has reinforced my belief that much of our struggles are rooted in some of our earliest formative experiences. These experiences express themselves through our minds and bodies. Our thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviors are largely shaped by what has had the most meaning and impact. As humans we are resourceful. We create strategic patterns that are designed to cope and protect. Patterns can become habitual and are often outside of conscious awareness. Some of these patterns may no longer be useful and often create the difficulties that brings us to a therapy.
My initial goal is to cultivate a therapeutic relationship that is based on acceptance and respect for the client's inner wisdom. I hold the belief that you have inside of you what you need to heal and grow. My role is to facilitate and support that natural resource. My attention will not only be on what we talk about but will also on what is not being spoken in words. There are many aspects of personal experience that are living within our movement patterns, gestures, facial expression and emotional tone. Often I will invite you to bring your awareness to these experiences. This type of awareness can also be referred to as the inner witness or mindfulness and comes from a part of the mind that can observe without judging or criticizing. With the use of mindfulness we can connect with emotions, memory, body sensation and images that are intertwined with formative experiences. As we explore, we will find parts that need to be listened to, understood and expressed. This is essential for the healing process and necessary for doing the important work of creating new patterns and behaviors. Attending to whatever has been left unresolved opens the a door for hope and commitment towards developing healthier ways of thinking, perceiving and being.
This approach works well for
- Healing from the effects of traumatic experience.
- Depression and chronic anxiety
- Substance abuse, addiction and codependency
- Grieving and loss for significant relationships
- Relationship work towards self and others
- Issues relating to the body, self perception and eating disorders
- Parenting, blended families, divorce
- Attachment and loving detachment
- Exploration of important life decisions
- Career and life work direction
MINDFULNESS in PSYCHOTHERAPY
Mindfulness is an ancient practice of self study. We go through everyday life events reacting and responding with partly unconscious and habitual patterns. In mindfulness we slow things down and call on our ability to observe activity of the mind in the present moment. This allows us to witness our automatic reactions and impulses while we are having them. By doing this we can gain awareness into the neural patterning that may have shaped thoughts, choices and behaviors.
As organic systems, we have forces inside of us that are designed to move us towards healing. Yet unresolved psychological injuries can block this progress. Through mindfulness, we attend to the wounds with a high degree of focus and compassion. This frees us to do the very important work of restoring missing resources and creating new neural pathways.
Many trauma experts agree that the nervous system becomes unregulated when traumatic experience has not been processed to the point of being metabolized. The nervous system will perceive certain triggers as if they are life threatening rather than as an ordinary stress. The mind and body can activate the fight and flight response or live in a perpetual state of vigilance and anxiety. This cycle can be debilitating and exhausting. I use techniques designed to slow the process down so that we can study how this activation lives in the body as well as in thought. Through gentle self observation, the parts that have been left unattended have the opportunity to safely appear in the conscious mind so that we can safely reveal the trauma and lower the level of activation. This process allows the nervous system to recover from the perpetual "on switch" and return to a level of balance.
Our bodies are important in psychotherapy because they record our experiences, some of which are formed in the earliest years of development. Those early experiences are thought to be the basis of our most deeply held perceptions and beliefs. When we include the body as a resource in therapy we shift from explaining our experiences to exploring them. Ron Kurtz, the founder of Hakomi Therapy would say "Our bodies shape themselves around our most deeply held beliefs about ourselves, others and the world around us."
Hakomi Therapy is based on a specific set of principles: Mind/Body Connection, Organicity, Nonviolence Mindfulness and Unity. These tenets inform every aspect of the method and work well for a wide range of people. If you would like to learn more about Hakomi, please refer to their website. Hakomiinstitute.com
Internal Family Systems
Internal Family Systems is a method of psychotherapy created by Richard Schwartz. The IFS model views each person as having various sub-personalities or parts. Each part plays a distinctive role within the internal system, much like a family system where each member holds a unique and essential role. Our internal parts can become conflicted and polarized which can then lead to an imbalance. Internal Family System creates a groundwork where each part can be heard and understood, allowing the system to come to it's own natural balance. This makes room for the wise mind and compassionate self. For more information about internal Family Systems, please refer to their website at selfleadership.org