We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are
–The Talmud

I am an integrative practitioner, which means I incorporate a wide repertoire of psychotherapy approaches offering you what I believe is the best of all worlds and the most effective combination. Over the years, I have found that many approaches on their own, while helpful, may not offer the optimal results that you may be seeking, therefore my work balances the best of behavior, insight- oriented, present- centered (humanistic/ existential, relational (meaning attentive to relationship dynamics) and body- oriented psychotherapies (somatic experiencing, gestalt therapy), complemented by  mindfulness and awareness-based practices that guide you to value, trust and intimately know your inner self.

I offer a very holistic outlook which takes into account more than just your mental health and if this is something you’re open to- I  will gladly connect you to alternative practitioners – including nutritionists, functional medicine and naturopathic doctors, acupuncturists, healers, craniosacral and/ or body work/ movement therapists who can support our work together. I have experienced how important it is to include other specialists before suggesting psychiatric medication. I have found that some psychiatrists medicate adults and children too quickly and miss certain key imbalances in the body such as thyroid, mthfr imbalances or Vitamin B, D which can lead to mood disturbances. 

Holistically speaking, if you are struggling with anxiety, a phobia or obsessive compulsive disorder, while I may use elements from cognitive behavioral therapy,  because I have found that CBT  leaves out major dimensions of who you are (missing both the depth of your emotional struggles and  unaware of the limitations of talk therapy), I will work with you more integratively. Many people who attempt CBT get some temporary relief but some find their symptoms either come back or they cannot even attempt CBT because it tends to only address the cognitive part of their dilemma- and not the underlying root of their stuckness which lies in other parts of our experience. The root of their pain is  emotional and requires a functional understanding i.e. working with the mind – body relationship. Emotional pain resides in our body and is not as easily accessed through talk alone. This is how somatic/ body oriented approaches can help. In working together, we will look at how your symptoms relate to the larger person and context of who you are, where you come from and how your symptoms offer you opportunities for major healing and awakening to your own liveliness. Your symptoms are not your enemy though they can certainly feel this way.

 

As a somatic psychotherapist, I pay attention to your whole self- your mind, body and spirit by attending to your experiences in your body in the present moment. Together, we will heighten awareness of your feelings, sensations, breathing, non-verbal and habitual patterns which will enable you to learn more about yourself, including the areas where you thrive and struggle. In addition to gaining insights,  to get “unstuck” we also need to experiment with new patterns and ways of being both in and out of session so that behavior change will come as well.

Every person is different and needs a unique combination of modalities that tailors toward their personality and comfort level. We will discuss what you’re looking for and I will also intuitively draw upon the combination of approaches I sense will be most efficient and beneficial in helping you meet your goals.

Gestalt Therapy– is a holistic, direct and creative therapy which focuses on helping you connect with yourself and others in the present moment. It is an experiential, existential and experimental therapy and it is actually fun and enlivening! Gestalt therapy looks at the how, not just the why that is, how you keep doing certain things, how your unwanted patterns serve you (yes they do!) and how they show up in session.  In a Gestalt approach, we look at both verbal and nonverbal patterns helping you become more aware of your emotions through work with breathing, movement patterns, feelings and sensations.

A Gestalt approach helps you learn to connect with with your emotions in the moment, paying attention to your body sensations as well. You also learn to experiment with new patterns rather than analyzing your past which can leave you stuck in overthinking and stagnant, upsetting narratives. This therapy is very useful if you feel disconnected from your body and your feelings or tend to intellectualize your problems. It also helps many people who have been in other therapies but haven’t been able to make changes from talk and insight alone.

Psychodynamic Therapy– addresses the impact of early childhood conflicts and attachment woundings on your current life by helping you become more aware of their unconscious influences. Uncovering these recurring patterns as they occur between you and your therapist and with others, can help you avoid repeating them in your present life.  Therapists who are trained in psychodynamic approaches tend to do a lot of personal examination of their own “countertransference” – i.e. their reactions and feelings in response to the ongoing relationships they have with their clients, which means they can often have an advantage over therapists who have not done such deep personal exploration. They are hopefully (!) more aware of their own blindspots and woundings which enables them to set these aside so they don’t bleed into their work with you.

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a trauma informed therapy developed by Dr. Peter Levine, a trauma expert. It derives much from Gestalt but takes the mind- body aspects of Gestalt to another level entirely by incorporating a sophisticated understanding  of how to work artfully with our bodies ( especially our nervous systems) from a trauma informed perspective so that we can resolve traumatic patterns. SE helps people successfully recover protective defenses and interpersonal boundaries that were often deeply compromised  by traumatic experience and guides them to embody feelings and impulses that were once felt to be intolerable. The work is initially focused on establishing a felt sense of safety which many traumatized people have never experienced and clinicians are highly trained to recognize physiological and psychological nuances and expressions of trauma. It is also very effective for children and adults who struggle with under and over activation (i.e. they are highly energetic and often misdiagnosed with “disorders”), mood and affect dysregulation (“mood disorders”) and in some instances chronic pain and autoimmune conditions.  Learn more about  Somatic Experiencing here : https://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/090915p12.shtml

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) including Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP) addresses the effect your automatic thought patterns and actions have on your moods and behaviors. CBT often involves using worksheets and homework to help you identify and challenge your particular thought patterns. The behavioral component involves designing situations in and out of session (exposure therapy) which will challenge your automatic assumptions by having you face those situations that you fear. I don’t practice exclusive CBT.  I adapt aspects of  it to the ongoing work we are doing together as needed.  I also prioritize helping you develop a strong sense of scaffolding and support via somatic experiencing before we embark upon any exposures together so that you don’t become flooded or traumatized by exposure therapy.

Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy– the premise of this therapy is that during the first year of life we each develop particular styles of moving and relating to our caregivers which continue to manifest in our adult bodies and in how we relate to the world. You hold your particular relational style and the story of your life in your body (for example in your gestures and expressions) and we will look at how your styles help and hinder you from getting what you want for yourself and from others. This work can add a deeper level of working through entrenched patterns and helping you become more in touch with your body and/or any physical or somatic difficulties you have. It can help you heal by introducing new ways to experiment with and/or modify your existing patterns in ways that may yield more satisfying results. http://www.somaticstudies.com/dsp.html

Mindfulness /Meditative Approaches-
Mindfulness is a way of paying very precise and compassionate attention to what we are doing in the present moment. We pay attention to our thoughts, sensations, reactions and judgments as they occur.  By seeing our identification with our thoughts and feelings, we become aware of  space that exists for new reactions, which ultimately can create new perceptions, new moods and new states of mind. Meditation reduces stress, strengthens our immune systems and helps us master the mental and physical terrain of our being, centering us and offering a haven when our life feels stormy and out of control. I have experience with a number of eastern traditions of meditation.