Types of Therapy
Psychodynamic (and Self-Compassion) Therapy
What is psychodynamic therapy? Put simply, it’s talk therapy that focuses on understanding how your past experiences, thoughts and beliefs impact how you feel in the present. By talking about and exploring your own history, family dynamics, early attachments and belief systems, you can gain the awareness and understanding you need to begin to unlock your own power to heal and grow.
Along with helping clients develop this understanding and insight, I interweave self-compassion practices to our work together. I help clients recognize their negative internal dialogs and self-judgements, and increase their self-kindness and empathy. While awareness of past patterns, thoughts and behaviors is important for the healing process, without reducing self-judgement and practicing self-compassion (and sometimes self-forgiveness), it is easy to remain stuck.
Our body’s nervous system has a natural way of responding to traumatic and fearful experiences. When it perceives that something is dangerous, it activates your fight or flight system to help you survive and move through the experience. When this natural response gets blocked or hindered, the traumatic experience can get stuck in the body and brain. As Bessel van der Kolk says in his book, The Body Keeps the Score: “Trauma affects the entire human organism–body, mind and brain. In PTSD, the body continues to defend against a threat that belongs to the past.”
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based therapeutic approach that helps clients process through unresolved past traumatic experiences that are adversely impacting them in the present. With EMDR, we can process through and release experiences that are trapped in the mind and the body, so you no longer have to feel the physical and emotional symptoms that come from this “stuckness”. Initially developed to treat trauma and PTSD, after years of research and clinical practice, we now know that EMDR can be used effectively to help heal many issues or challenges including: anxiety, phobias, panic, unresolved grief, addiction behaviors, negative beliefs, attachment or relational trauma, and many mind-body or somatic symptoms. Commonly, these types of challenges often are connected to something in our past that remains unhealed or incomplete. Attachment-Focused EMDR adds an additional layer of healing by considering a client’s attachment needs through the process. EMDR is safe, non-invasive, and can be used with people of all ages.
Mind-Body (or Somatic) Therapy
Our emotions are experienced not just as feelings and thoughts, but in our bodies as well. When we feel anxiety or nervousness, we can experience feelings of fear and worry, racing thoughts, rapid heart beat, tightness in the chest, and more. Depression is experienced as sadness and negative thoughts, but also can impact sleep, physical energy and even result in physical pain in the body. Our minds and our bodies are connected. How we feel emotionally effects us physically, and vice versa.
Working from a mind-body perspective, I take this into consideration when working with all my clients. I gently integrate somatic and mindfulness techniques into the therapeutic work. These techniques may include simple tools to help regulate the nervous system, somatic tracking or calming breathing techniques (if appropriate). I also may ask clients to notice sensations–tightness or openness–in their bodies as we talk about and process certain experiences. For clients who are open to it, I may encourage the use of meditation to support your healing process. These various tools and techniques can help clients to heal not just their painful thoughts and feelings but also release the physiological symptoms of those painful emotions in their bodies. For clients who are less comfortable with these techniques, we work collaboratively to determine which techniques or methods work best them in their healing journey.