Trauma & Resilience
Trauma, in all forms, physical, emotional, sexual, or from natural disasters or acts of violence, can have a lasting effect on a person. People who have survived trauma often carry feelings of shame, guilt, and loneliness, and can experience difficulty trusting and becoming close to people in their lives. They may engage in self-destructive behaviors in an attempt to cope, or may try to avoid thinking about the trauma in an effort to “move on.” However, when these tactics fail to provide them with the relief they are searching for, therapy can help. In our work together we will help you address and process your feelings and thoughts related to the trauma so that you can feel empowered and rediscover a sense of safety and control in your life.
In working with people who’ve undergone trauma, I utilize a variety of scientifically validated approaches specifically tailored and combined to fit your needs. However, generally, I tend to incorporate the following techniques: psychoeducation to help you understand the nature, neurobiology, and physical and emotional effects of trauma; mindfulness meditation to help ground and center you, sensorimotor techniques to help you soothe and regulate your nervous system, and cognitive reframing to help you recontextualize and reframe the trauma narrative into a more empowered, holistic story where posttraumatic growth is possible.
The goal of trauma therapy is to help you:
- Make sense of, and express your feelings and experiences
- Develop healthy coping skills to help you process and deal with the trauma
- Regain a sense of control and agency over your mind and body
- Address the impact of trauma on personal and romantic relationships
- Liberate you from the feelings of guilt and shame that often accompany trauma
- Reframe your “trauma symptoms” into “trauma survival strategies” so that you can acknowledge them for what they’ve done for you and also begin to alter and edit them as you progress through your recovery.
Stress & Anxiety
Although stress and anxiety are a normal part of everyone’s lives, sometimes they can grow to the point of being overwhelming and can begin to interfere with your daily life. You may feel you’ve lost control or that the anxiety is too overwhelming to overcome. This amount of anxiety can paralyze you and keep you from pursuing dreams, goals, or relationships like you’d want.
In order to address symptoms of anxiety, I utilize a variety of techniques. Together we will develop a customized approach which will include some or all of the following approaches: insight oriented therapy to better understand the root cause of your anxiety, stress-reduction and relaxation exercises to help soothe and ground you, both physically as well as emotionally, cognitive behavioral approaches to target and challenge dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs which contribute or generate anxiety, and mindfulness meditation to help you move out of the future (where anxiety lives) and into the current moment.
Therapy for anxiety can help you:
- Regain a sense of control and mastery over your emotions
- Learn relaxation and breathing techniques to help cope with anxiety peaks
- Use body-based approaches to holistically target your feelings of anxiety, including paying attention to how diet, sleep, and exercise can contribute to these symptoms
- Uncover root causes of anxiety so you can begin to address them
- Develop mastery of these emotions so your self-esteem and sense of agency can flourish
Grief & Loss
If you’ve experienced the loss of someone important in your life, be it recently or years ago, you may be struggling with how to make sense of what happened, and how to cope with your grief so that you can continue to live. Sadness, guilt, anger, pain, and regret are all common components of grief, and although the grief recovery process is different for everyone, having a safe place to explore your loss is an essential piece of recovery.
Therapy for grief and loss can help you:
- Come to terms with your loss and the various ways in which it will change and alter your life
- Work through and process the gut-wrenching pain of grief
- Integrate your loss into your life narrative in a way that both honors your loved one, but also allows you to fully live your life in the present and into the future
- Find ways of emotionally and spiritually connecting to your loved one so that you can feel a deep sense of connection despite their departure
- Discover and establish rituals to help you commemorate your loved one’s life and legacy
Depression can be subtle and subversive, or full-blown and dramatic. Either way, it gets in the way of your energy, motivation, creativity, and most importantly, your zest for life. Depression can also bring isolation and hopelessness, as well as the loss of energy that makes it challenging to even have the motivation to challenge the depression. Quite a catch! Together, we will work to target the root of your depression in order to help liberate you from its grasp.
Therapy for depression can help you:
- Learn about the body based aspects of depression
- Encourage you to use body-based approaches to holistically target your feelings of anxiety, including paying attention to how diet, sleep, and exercise can contribute to these symptoms and discomfort
- Catch, challenge, and reframe negative self-talk which is often at the root of feelings of sadness and worthlessness
- Process past experiences which have caused you grief and sadness, so that you can begin to let go of them and incorporate them into your life and narrative in a more positive, growth-fostering manner
- Understand how depression may interact with and influence other symptoms, including anxiety, substance use/abuse, and relationship difficulties
Sexuality, Love, and Relationships
Relationships can bring some of our greatest lows, as well as some of our most heart-wrenching struggles. It can be difficult to understand how to keep your individual identity while also meeting the needs of your partner. Old hurts, betrayals, poor communications habits, and the weight of daily life and monotony can greatly impact the health and vitality of your relationship. When working with and on relationships, I approach the work using Emotionally-Focused techniques and highlighting the importance of intimacy, sexuality, independence/interdependence, and connection.
Relationship counseling can take the form of both individual therapy, in which these topics are discussed and explored, or couples’ therapy where both you and your partner are seen together to address these concerns.
Relationship counseling can help you:
- Improve skills, habits, and behaviors to bring energy and vitality into your relationship
- Examine existing relationships to determine if you are ready and committed to improving them, or if it might be time to move past them and say goodbye
- Improve communication styles so that you and your partner can actually hear each other and in turn feel heard, seen, and witnessed
- Break old, destructive patterns
- Bring your sexuality into focus; understanding that it is often more of a dialogue than a definition and that it is a central part of not only our relationship but our own self
- Look at and explore topics surrounding sex without labeling or judging
Women's Health & Feminist Psychotherapy
Women’s mental health services are as broad and diverse as the women seeking them. It may focus on your life and identity as a woman, mother, sister, daughter, wife, or partner. It may also mean a focus on hormone-related mood changes, fertility and infertility, adoption, and postpartum depression/anxiety. For many women, women’s mental health is also about domestic violence, sexual assault, and other issues related to gender-based violence.
Why focus on women’s mental health? Because gender is a critical determinant of mental health. Gender greatly determines many aspects of our lives, amongst them some of the socioeconomic and social issues related to power and control of your life and world. As a woman, to explore and discuss gender is to take a broad, holistic, and at times, political and social look at your life.
Feminist Psychotherapy informs my work. It asks that we consider your cultural, social, gender, and political context. It reminds us that we do not exist in a vacuum and that to some degree, we are a product of our environments and the lessons our society has taught us. At its core, feminist therapy is about empowerment and finding ways to overcome limitations and restrictions. Gender roles, socialization, identity, and self-concept are a focus of exploration. Most importantly, feminist therapy is not just for women, and most certainly not about “man-hating,” but instead it is about how to help you become stronger, more empowered, and more attuned to your core self. Additionally, many people can find this approach helpful, including people of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender-variant individuals, immigrants, refugees and people with special need. Those who have experienced oppression may find that this type of treatment can inspire social as well as personal transformation. Feminist therapy may or may not be part of our work, and if the words seems loaded to you, let’s talk about it! Maybe there are legitimate reasons for your hesitation, and maybe, just maybe, you may find it brings an interesting and empowering lens to your life.
One of my main areas of personal and professional interest is diversity, in all its forms. This may mean cultural, racial, sexual, gender and many others. At its root, culturally-sensitive therapy means that I strive to meet you where you are, and to learn and know about where you come from.
For many minority individuals, including Latino/a and bicultural individuals, there are particular topics and challenges that are unique to their lives in their country of origin, the country of current residency, and their interaction with mainstream culture. I bring both a personal and professional awareness to these topics and an openness and encouragement to discuss and explore these topics in session.
I conduct sessions in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and at times, a combination of some or all of these! Sometimes we think, speak, feel, and dream in different languages, and they are all welcome in our therapy.
LGBTQI Affirmative Therapy
I am an affirmative psychologist, prepared to explore and address the impact of minority stress, both institutionalized as well as internalized, that can play a role and contribute to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, unsafe sex, and other mental health and wellbeing challenges faced by many LGBTQI individuals.
In my work as an affirmative therapist, I strive to help individuals dive deep into LGBTQI affirmative thinking and practices, as well as to help others in their community become consciousness and motivated allies.
LGBTQI Affirmative Therapy can help you:
- Work through and overcome the difficulties and symptoms of internalized homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and heterosexism
- Focus on issues related to LGBTQI physical and mental health and wellness
- Empower you to find community, and develop your identity
- Discuss and explore how your identity impacts your relationships, your work, and your play
- Discuss and heal from a history of oppression, both in culture and in your own life
Work, Creatives & Entrepreneurs
Most of us work for a great deal of our waking hours. If we are lucky, we find pleasure and meaning in this work, but even then, it can fill us with stress, anxieties, insecurities, and plain old fatigue. You may be at the point where these difficulties are stripping the joy out of your work, and causing you to questions your career and professional choices. Together, we will work at making work fun, rewarding, and meaningful again. We may also work on helping you develop and pursue new career paths or entrepreneurial ideas. I have a passion for working with people who have big and bold ideas but may need a little help in becoming the leaders, creators, and innovators they are at heart.
Some of the work and career topics we may focus on include:
- Finding, creating, and pursuing work that is meaningful yet profitable
- Negotiating salaries and raises
- Learning to navigate and work with (or without!) difficult bosses and coworkers
- Addressing causes and symptoms of low motivation, job satisfaction, and the most dangerous one of all, job burnout
- Finding that much discussed, yet elusive work-life balance, or alignment, as some prefer to think of it
- Addressing the causes and impacts of difficulty concentrating, following through, or staying motivated and engaged in your work