MethodsIntegrating cutting edge tools adressing the whole person
I’ve been studying psychology formally since 1989 when I started graduate school at CIIS, and during that time I have focused on learning the tools that are the most powerful at helping people to get to the bottom of issues and get results. I went to a Transpersonal graduate school, because I could see that working with consciousness in a greater sense than simply the mind and the ego was a key to transformation.
The first tool I learned outside of school was hypnotherapy because 95% of what causes our patterns and habits is unconscious. I learned body-centered therapy and working in mindfulness (Hakomi) because I could see how much of the unconscious is in the body and it requires an open, meditative awareness to access it. I learned EMDR because we all need to release trauma from our nervous systems. From there I went on to study Brainspotting because it goes beyond trauma and is a tool for accessing any state of consciousness and using healthy states to work with wounded, or contracted states. I learned Reiki, which involves working with a client’s energy field through contact, or near contact, because it is more direct than verbal methods, and is quite effective. Along the way, I discovered EFT, or tapping is an incredible shortcut for shifting patterns. Finally, I have discovered that most of us are experiencing negative psychological effects from our unnatural, even toxic foods, which cause inflammation in the gut and the nervous system. So I incorporate assessing and addressing lifestyle issues, including natural support for the brain and the body.
In my over 25 years in private practice I have studied most things that I thought could help my clients, and really focused on the things that proved the most effective. I had originally planned on getting a PhD, but I discovered that the best way to help people was to stay in a process of taking trainings and self study based on what my clients needed, and following the cutting edge developments. That has also helped me to keep my fees affordable. Here is more information about all these specific methods; my approach integrates all of them.
Brainspotting is a type of therapy which works directly with the unconscious mind, the body and particularly the nervous system through the use of the eyes. It emerged from EMDR, which is a trauma therapy known for quickly clearing material from the amygdala, which is where trauma is stored. You will listen to music through headphones which puts your brain in a processing mode like REM sleep. The eye position is used to focus what exactly the brain is processing. By finding an eye position associated with a feeling, memory or trigger, the brain is literally pointed at the topic to work on. Then, while you look at the eye position, your brain starts quickly processing the whole network of memories, body sensations, feelings and insights to clear that issue. This is based on the concept that “neurons that fire together wire together.” Awareness of the body, deep breathing and the normal process of communication, support and direction that you expect in therapy will allow your system to clear issues to the core.
Along with triggers and traumas, we can find eye positions for positive, expansive and spiritual states of consciousness which can be quickly and deeply accessed both in sessions and whenever else you may want that support. The positive eye positions, which also remain in the same location, so you know where to find them, allow you to freely and quickly move out of anything that feels too painful and organically reconnect with the parts of your world which support and nourish you. After working with all the layers of wounding that need processing in what was once a trigger eye position, it now becomes a resource. It will then connect you with aspects of your Self, such as unconditional love, compassion, essential value, clarity, etc. Then the process of self-realization means integrating these states into a stable foundation in your consciousness and your life.
With Brainspotting, we have essentially found the “search” and “clear” functions of our brains. Because Brainspotting is so effective, I integrate it into most of my sessions. For example when I am doing parts work, such as Internal Family Systems or Gestalt, the eye positions support an easy movement between different parts or states of consciousness, and allow us to go deep quickly and easily into the roots of the part we are exploring. The centered, connected and compassionate Self is the key to Internal Family systems work, allowing all the parts to be worked with with love and leadership. Having an eye position for the Self is very helpful in doing that work.
Hypnosis is a method for accessing the unconscious, which is where old learning is held like programming on the hard drive of a computer. It is a gentle, enjoyable process of getting below surface thoughts and discovering deep seated beliefs, patterns and pictures about how life works. Once these images, memories, beliefs and feelings are brought into awareness, they can be updated and unlearned. The Transpersonal element refers to bringing the spiritual resources into contact with these old patterns, which is naturally transformative. That can include accessing expanded, spiritual states of consciousness and even things like past-life regression and communication with beings who have left the body. Hypnosis is gentle, relaxing and enjoyable. When clients feel safe and ready, it is quite easy to slip into a “trance,” and then to learn to take yourself there on your own.
Hypnosis creates changes in the outer life which are organic and often effortless. Best of all, since we are working with “programming” on the deepest level, changes are usually permanent! Note: I do not simply “reprogram” your unconscious to do what you want it to do. I help your psyche work through issues so that it can release programing and source from the vast wisdom of your deepest Self. For me the essence of being a hypnotherapist is loving the psyche and learning to listen to, respect, follow and understand the natural unfolding of my client’s inner world.
We will work with present-centered awareness of the body to uncover the patterns of tension and numbing which are responsible for discomfort and feeling stuck. Breathwork is used to soften and release pain, unconscious holding patterns, and to connect more deeply with all the layers of the psyche.
Combining this with hypnosis is a wonderful and effective approach for healing physical symptoms as well as psychological issues. We can discover the roots of illness and bring transformation from a deep level. This allows both traditional and alternative types of healing work to become more effective. Additionally, working with the body in this fashion leads to a stronger sense of aliveness, more natural joy and expressiveness.
Presence oriented/mindfulness-based therapy
Presence oriented, or mindfulness-based therapy is based on the principles of meditation. This work is focused, deep, and very organic and effective. It involves accessing the relevant unconscious material and simply observing the thoughts, feelings, memories, and kinesthetic experience associated with the issue. Through the power of awareness, and non-interference (equanimity), inner transformation and freedom unfolds naturally, but much more quickly than through simple meditation. This very natural process utilizes the transformative power of awareness or consciousness with tools to bring presence to the heart of the issues, blocks, or wounds. Additionally, my clients often get so much out of using mindfulness in sessions that they go on to develop a meditation practice, and find that the therapy makes their meditations easier, deeper and more enjoyable.
Reiki is a form of energy work which involves placing my hands on or near your body. It is a simple technique that allows energy to balance, ground and release. It is gentle and relaxing. I use this approach with people who are comfortable with it. It also opens the door to intuitive ways of accessing information and sometimes profound spiritual connections. I have a special massage table which plays deeply meditative music through the table itself helping clients to naturally open into very deep states of consciousness. Reiki can be done in the normal therapy chairs, even from a distance, or on a table.
Gestalt is of form of therapy which allows you to access conflicting voices in yourself and in your world. It is a way of getting to your unconscious role in interpersonal issues and resolving unconscious conflicts which go back to previous relationships. It’s a wonderful tool for working with your shadow, including what you unconsciously project on other people. This can be quite helpful for couples, as people are usually unaware of how much of their unresolved issues from previous relationships (particularly family of origin) are acted out with their intimate partner.
EFT stands for “Emotional Freedom Technique,” which is also commonly called “tapping” or “Meridian Tapping.” By tapping on some specific points on the face and upper body, one can let go of negative emotions and limiting beliefs, sometimes in minutes. EFT seems too good to be true, because such dramatic shifts can happen so quickly and often permanently while tapping and repeating simple phrases. Tapping the points on the body induces a mini-REM state in the brain. This reorganizes how we store and process information. It can be shown with an EEG machine that brainwave patterns absolutely respond to the tapping. This is probably related to the fact that the tapping is on the endpoints of the “energy meridians” identified in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Other observations about EFT include: increased regulation of sympathetic-parasympathetic interaction, and of the HPA hypothalamus pituitary-adrenal axis, decreased hyperarousal of the limbic system and other brain structures involved in the fight or flight response, and changes in the amygdala and anterior cingulate areas of the brain combined with modulating cortisol and other stress hormones.
Functional medicine is a form of Western alternative medicine , with a focus on identifying and addressing the root causes of disease, and which views the body/mind as one integrated system, not a collection of independent systems. Healing involves looking at diet, nutrition, and the effects of environmental toxins to predispose people to illness versus health. While I am not a medical doctor or a naturopath, I do have a lot of knowledge about the connection between physical and mental health. This includes understanding digestive issues, such as food sensitivities, intestinal permeability, candida, and their connection to issues such as addiction, trauma, depression and anxiety. I help clients with alternatives to prescription medications such as amino acid therapy and nutritional supplements. My work is focused on getting to the root causes of issues rather than just treating symptoms. I help clients look in the right places to understand and resolve the physical underpinnings of psychological issues. I’m experienced with autoimmune disorders, adrenal fatigue, food issues, insomnia, ADD, fibromyalgia, thyroid imbalances, chronic fatigue and pain as well as other issues that involve the body and mind working together.
Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS)
This is a system for working with different parts of the psyche which focuses of the integrative wisdom of the Self. I will help you access the Self, which is clear, compassionate, centered and connected internally and externally. This facilitates interaction with other parts which have deep unconscious roots allowing you to learn from them, negotiate with them and heal them, organically moving toward a more integrated and updated psyche. The Self can moderate disputes between polarized parts and bring real healing to buried, wounded parts and support defenses in being more functional and less automatic.
I combine all the modalities I use into a unique and fluid process of engaging your whole system and releasing negative programming in your subconscious mind. I typically start with talking and integrate breathwork, hypnosis, and brainspotting. The EFT is used to release core blocks and outdated programming in your subconscious mind. This means that you are receiving the benefit of all of these types of therapy at once, integrated into a powerful, gentle, dynamic and transformative whole.