MA, MSW, LCSW, LICSW, ATR-BC, CTT
Since 1984 I have worked with a wide range of clients providing individual, group, family and couples therapy. I am deeply committed to my clients, and passionate about providing quality mental health care. I frequently participate in cutting edge professional trainings and seminars, working closely with other experts in the field. Through this ongoing exchange, I deepen and expand my ability to help clients and the challenges they face.
Professional Areas Of Practice
Psychotherapy takes time and commitment; it is truly an interpersonal process. The fit between client and therapist is the glue that makes therapy work. The therapeutic space must be safe. I strive to establish rapport with clients and connect person to person. The process and pace of psychotherapy depends on this relationship; that is the underpinning of all therapeutic work. I do not have "answers" for my clients, but help them by listening respectfully and without judgment to their thoughts and concerns. My role is to support and gently challenge each individual with helpful observations, questions, and connections.
Art Therapy, according to the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), "...is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight."
In an art therapy session, you might draw with pastels or markers, look for an image in a random scribble, use clay to pound or build, or cut and paste with collage to tell a story. In art therapy it is not important to be an artist or even have artistic skills, but to have a desire to create and an interest in exploring metaphor and personal imagery. Therapy is happening simply through the art making process. We can also use the art to explore concerns and as a way to access and express unconscious feelings.
There are numerous advantages to using art therapy when working with trauma. When a person has experienced trauma it often is difficult to even find words to describe the situation, resulting in a state of "speechless terror." Art can bypass problems with verbal language and allow the expression to evolve from the unconscious or implicit memory which is where trauma is stored. Clients find working with imagery is helpful as answers to problems often emerge through manipulation of the materials. Pounding clay, tearing paper, and creating new stories through the art making process can be quite beneficial to the healing process. Art making can also be a pleasurable experience that can enhance strengths and coping skills.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was developed by Francine Shapiro about 30 years ago. Originally conceived as a way to reprocess the trauma of PTSD, its focus is to support adaptive information processing (AIP) of traumatic memories and events. EMDR is considered a gold standard for trauma treatment. The rationale behind bilateral stimulation and EMDR is that the brain holds negative self-beliefs in the neural memory networks that came from earlier traumatic events, and that these negative beliefs from the past interfere in healthy living in the present. EMDR is a structured approach that can produce rapid results that appear to "re-wire" the brain by transforming negative beliefs into more positive or neutral ones. I am certified in EMDR and active in an EMDR consultation group. I also have integrated art making in the EMDR protocol and have written about this in professional journals and book chapters.
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP) is a body-based form of therapy where we bring attention to the body, observing and noticing the way the body holds or manifests anxiety, tension and stress. The body's response to trauma is instinctual and based on animal defenses; the fight, flight or freeze responses are basic survival mechanisms to help us navigate stress and danger. In sensorimotor and body oriented psychotherapies, we use a "bottom up" as opposed to "top down" approach. Entering in through a non- verbal, somatic route, rather than forcing words or cognition to tell the story, facilitates healing. By noticing and working with the body's natural responses, we can get a handle on managing overwhelming trauma. I am a Certified Sensorimotor Psychotherapy practitioner and also Sensorimotor Consultant (providing professional consultation in this method to other therapists).
Group therapy is an excellent tool for healing. It provide a great way to connect and learn from others who have had similar experiences. My groups often integrate art therapy and other experiential techniques to facilitate creative connections. I have run a women's trauma group for many years. I currently offer virtual group sessions (on zoom) that are focused on providing a supportive environment for managing isolation, depression and anxiety. The groups are short term and are offered throughout the year.
In response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, many health care professionals are now offering services in virtual formats. This option works well for many clients as it makes therapy more accessible and adds flexibility in scheduling. The majority of my sessions are conducted "virtually" using a HIPAA compliant telehealth platform.