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TRAUMA

Mind Body Healing

My expertise in trauma treatment includes over 15 years of providing trauma focused psychotherapy and extensive training in trauma treatment modalities including somatic therapies, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and mindfulness techniques.  Additionally, I am a lecturer, educator and consultant on topics related to mental health and trauma.

Effective trauma treatment addresses the human reactions to the mind/body system when an event overwhelms our capacity to cope coupled with a sense of helplessness and intense fear (Judith Herman, 1992). Survivors of trauma often have no visible signs, but can carry internal reminder, sometimes manifesting in emotional, cognitive, behavioral, spiritual and physical responses. Trauma is much more common than most realize and can underlie serious physical concerns and mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. People can think they are going “crazy” when they are experiencing normal and common reactions to trauma. Alternating between states of activation, anxiety to numbness, depression is a hallmark of trauma and can be confounding and unsettling to survivors.

My approach involves a full assessment to understand the relevant factors arising and then first addresses the here and now, how can I help bring relief in your current life circumstances, and address coping strategies. “Symptom” relief is important. If you’re not sleeping, we need to address this; if anxiety is strong, we explore strategies to reduce this response. Over time, eventually processing the trauma memory is important, to help the brain adaptively address the event that it could not process, and to reorganize the information, allowing the brain and nervous system to not see the event as a threat anymore. The memory system includes both explicit memory (details of events with time stamps) and implicit memory (sense memory, emotional memory) and when we process trauma it is important to explore both, particularly body based memory as this is where much of trauma memory is stored. In session, this processing does not have to mean retelling the story, it can be a guided process where you do not need to verbally share the details of the event. Your particular needs will be assessed, and I’ll recommend the treatment plan best suited for you.   

My trauma work is heavily influenced by my training in The Trauma Resiliency Model (TRM), a therapy designed to treat trauma through the stabilization of the nervous system. I have also been a training facilitator from TRM. TRM is an integrative mind-body intervention, which focuses on the biological basis of trauma and the ways the body responds to threat and fear. In therapy we work to learn skills and learn coping to stabilize your nervous system from trauma, restore equilibrium and develop personal resources and healthy physical and psychological boundaries.

Check out my article on Interpersonal Neuroscience and Evidence-Based Trauma Treatment

 
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SEXUAL TRAUMA

Healing & Recovery

Sexual trauma in widespread form of violence that impacts more women, men and children than is commonly understood. In the US, more than 1 in 3 women and almost 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime according to the Centers for Disease Control. Far too many lives have been impacted and too much suffering occurs.

Many survivors will develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, while others develop a wide variety of concerns including anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, addiction (substances, online shopping, gambling, relationship codependency), and the list goes on. These are human responses to events that are overwhelming, terrifying and confusing and human attempts to cope with the overwhelming emotional pain and should never be judged.

My experience includes nine and a half years as a therapist at the UCLA Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center. First as an on-call counselor, I provided emergency response and crisis intervention in the immediate aftermath of sexual trauma and then as a psychotherapist helping survivors heal from the aftermath of their experience. With extensive training, supervision, and clinical practice, I learned the best practices of trauma treatment and the unique elements of helping sexual trauma survivors heal and thrive in their lives.

From my extensive experience working with survivors of sexual trauma, I have come to see how lonely the healing process can be. Survivors often feel alone and isolated, confused, and deeply in pain. Many worry they are “over reacting” or compare their circumstances to those of others who they think are worse off. Many believe they will never feel better. I walk with patients down a healing path, so to speak, which collaboratively addresses the painful emotions, difficult “symptoms,” and ways that people have unsuccessfully tried to cope. I take seriously my role as an ally and witness in the healing process, while working with clients to heal through specific therapy techniques including EMDR, somatic therapy, mindfulness, and cognitive interventions.

 
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EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing

I provide a kind of therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) to help process and resolve trauma concerns. EMDR has been extensively research and has a high level of empirical validity. It is an effective, proven method to help individuals heal from traumatic events and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  EMDR can be used to treat disturbing life events that are perhaps along the trauma spectrum but might not be considered traumatic. EMDR is helpful with the often co-occurring concerns of anxiety, panic disorder and depression. EMDR helps the brain process unresolved trauma memories and engage its natural capacity to heal. The hallmark of EMDR therapy is engaging the left and right sides of the brain, which can be done through eye movement, audio input or tactile movement by holding tappers.

The World health Organization, American Psychiatric Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies,  and the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs/Dept. of Defense are among the organizations that recognize EMR’s efficacy.

For EMDR therapy, I’ll complete a full assessment and treatment plan in the first phase of therapy and then once we’ve completed this repertory phase of at least several sessions, we’ll begin the “bilateral” EMDR treatment.

I like this video from the EMDR International Association, which describes EMDR and healing from trauma.