Areas of Expertise:


 

Theraputic Healing from Childhood and Adult Trauma (Physical, Emotional and Sexual Abuse):

Highly traumatic events in one’s childhood, such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse can lead to core issues which are often at the root of an individuals struggles in his/her present life. All too often, abuse survivors are isolated and in need of support to help recover from the trauma of childhood abuse. Many of these issues pertain as well to adult victims of abuse and rape. Psychotherapy helps to break the isolation that survivors of abuse so often experience. It provides support and guidance for traversing this difficult but ultimately life affirming and healing journey.

Following are some of the common symptoms that affect abused individuals, and are therefore issues that are addressed in the therapy process.

Common Symptoms Experienced by People Who Have Suffered Abuse

(Items marked with an * usually pertain specifically to survivors of sexual abuse, but may pertain to survivors of emotional and physical abuse.)


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Eye Movement, Desensitization, and Reprocessing (EMDR):

EMDR or Eye Movement, Reprocessing, and Desensitization, is also more
currently called Reprocessing Therapy. It is a psychotherapeutic technique
that utilizes a combination of other therapies including psychodynamic,
cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, experiential, and body-centered
therapies.

EMDR was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated
with traumatic memories, and is widely used for Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD). Through an integrated process, clients are able to access
and transform past negative experiences and/or traumas, limiting
self-beliefs, and unresolved issues that are affecting their present life.


Some issues can be resolved in one or two sessions, and some require a much longer period. Following is an example of how one of my clients transformed previously unresolved issues with EMDR. For an in depth explanation of EMDR including its development, theoretical basis, studies of its efficacy, etc. please refer to the EMDR Institute website: www.emdr.com/briefdes.htm. For more information on PTSD, please go to: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/posttraumaticstressdisorder.html.

Example of Short Term use of EMDR for a Previously Unresolved Trauma

As often happens with posttraumatic stress disorder, unresolved emotions and experiences are alive within us, manifesting physically, emotionally, and practically, until we are able to resolve them. The following exemplifies how PTSD manifests, and how EMDR can help to heal the PTSD response.

Client M., was recently separated from her husband and terrified of taking a bath or shower. Because of this fear, she did not bathe for many days. She attributed her fear to the newness of living alone and was fearful that she wouldn’t be able to hear if something bad happened. My sense was that there was an older unresolved issue underneath this fear, and we decided to do some EMDR to further explore and hopefully heal this issue.

We started with assessing her feelings as she contemplated bathing. Her heart was racing, she felt as if she couldn’t breathe, and she was extremely afraid. On a 1 – 10 intensity scale, her feelings were so strong, that they were a 10. We then explored her negative belief, which was “ I am not safe because I can’t hear anything if I am in the shower/tub. Something will happen, I’ll be alone, and no one will know”. We then developed the following positive thought that she aspired to believe, which was “I am comfortable and safe showering”. On a scale of 0 – 7, her belief in this was so low, that it was a 0.

We then began the eye movement. Within a few minutes she had a vivid memory of the following event that took place many years ago. When she had an extremely acute case of psoriasis, she had to take medicinal baths 3x/day. Because she was a single mother, she would lock the outside doors and let her child play in the house, while she bathed. One day, while bathing, she heard something within her tell her to get out of the bath immediately. She ran downstairs, found that her three-year-old son had unlatched the sliding glass door for the first time, and was outside, floating face down in the pool. She rescued her blue and bloated child who was not breathing, pushed on his stomach until he vomited water, coughed and survived. She relived this incident in nightmares every night for 25 years, drank excessively, and was riddled with guilt.

Finally, she stopped having nightmares 10 years ago, and thought she was done with this trauma. However, it became clear in the eye movement that her inner critic was still berating her for taking the bath, and she was still emotionally distraught over this near tragedy. Until she did the eye movement, it hadn’t occurred to her that her current fear was connected to this incident. Through the eye movement she was able to make the connection, reprocess, and heal this trauma, so that at the end of the session she felt ready to go home and take a bath.

The next week she reported that she was able to take 1 bath without fear. However, when she tried to take another bath later in the week, she was petrified. My sense was that there was another unresolved trauma that involved bathing, so we did another session of EMDR. This time she remembered that after she went to the beach as a child, her mother insisted on hosing her off in the back yard with freezing cold water. Her grandfather, who had molested her, would watch, as her mother put her in degrading positions in order to remove the sand from her body. She felt disrespected, overpowered, humiliated, and not safe. Again, these seemingly long buried events were unconsciously affecting M. in the present.

Through the EMDR, M. was able to link, remember, reprocess, and heal from these incidents. The next week she reported that she was able to bathe with very little anxiety, and in the ensuing months, has been able to bathe regularly without any stress or fear. These sessions thus exemplify how EMDR can help to heal issues (PTSD) from the past, which are affecting us in the present.

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Perinatal Loss: Grief Counseling for Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Death:

Sometimes...

        We find ourselves grieving...

                When we expected rejoicing.

Perinatal Grieving ImageWhen a joyous and seemingly healthy pregnancy suddenly ends in miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death, the bereaved parents are thrown into shock and anguish. Few people understand the complexities and duration of this unique grief. The expectant parents suddenly lose not only the pregnancy, but the baby with whom they have been bonding, and all the hopes and dreams they had for themselves with this child.

It is quite normal for the inherent pain and suffering of this unique grief to last a long time. Yet often neither the friends & families of the grieving parents nor the medical community can fully comprehend the depth and duration of this loss. As a result, the bereaved parents often feel extremely isolated in their grief and begin to question the validity of their feelings and even their mental and emotional stability,

COUNSELING CAN HELP YOU TO:

Individual or family counseling can be invaluable in helping bereaved parents grieve and heal their tragic loss. For more information, read Audrey's article from the July 1996 issue of Parent's Press, When Joy Turns To Grief.


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Expressive Arts Therapy for Individuals and Groups:

Expressive Arts Therapy enriches and enlivens the therapeutic process by bridging the conscious world of language and thought with the unconscious world of memories, feelings, and experiences. The processes of creative writing, visual arts, mask making, singing, poetry, & psychodrama support the psyche’s natural desire to heal psychologically, physically, and spiritually. In addition to empowering clients and enhancing their self-expression, expressive arts therapy allows for the discovery of dysfunctional patterns, deepens communication, furthers understanding, and creates new insights for couples, families, and groups.

Groups facilitated include, “Woman Alive” (a psychotherapy group for women exploring the arts as modalities of transformation), “Women Healing Women”, (expressive arts therapy groups for survivors of sexual abuse), and psychotherapy groups for mothers.

 


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