My specialty is psychotherapy with adults who are suffering from symptoms of trauma, anxiety, stress, and depression. I also provide counselling for a variety of other clinical issues, including:
- Relationship Issues
- Personal Growth
- Life Transitions
- Family-of-Origin Issues
- Grief & Loss
- Work/Life Balance
If you watch how nature deals with adversity, continually renewing itself, you can’t help but learn.
~ Dr. Bernie Siegel
I use a mind-body treatment approach, tailoring my treatment techniques to your particular needs. I integrate traditional talk therapy approaches (Psychodynamic, Family Systems, Cognitive-Behavioural, and Client-Centred) with Self-Regulation Therapy (SRT). At the end of our first counselling session, I will propose a specific treatment plan for you.
What is Self-Regulation Therapy (SRT)?
SRT is based on current neurobiological research. Overwhelming events create imbalances in the nervous system that negatively affect how an individual feels and relates to others. SRT is a somatic treatment approach that focuses on awareness of body sensations in order to discharge excess activation (i.e., anxiety, tension, and pain) from the nervous system and restore equilibrium. Individuals are aided in gently renegotiating overwhelming events that had become frozen in time, and complete their natural responses of fight, flight or freeze that may have been thwarted during those events. As SRT brings balance to the nervous system, individuals feel more alive and better able to manage the stresses of everyday life. SRT improves one’s ability to self-soothe and restores one’s sense of control. Individuals feel more calm and report better sleep and concentration.
Our family background and life circumstances may have influenced who we are at present, but each of us is responsible for determining who we become. If we are unsatisfied with our life, do we seize the opportunity to do something about it?
We can take a lesson from nature and its inherent regeneration process. For example, the moonsnail repairs damage to its shell. Afterward, the cracks are still visible, but they are incorporated into the beauty of the shell. The starfish is well known for its amazing regeneration abilities. “Lost arms are common and will eventually heal over… regrowth depends on many variables… condition of starfish before the trauma… regular feeding will accelerate regrowth”. (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestarfaqs.htm)
The starfish already has what it needs (DNA) to grow a body from just one arm! Likewise, people already have the inner resources they need to recover from negative life events. However, sometimes people feel stuck and unable to access these resources. I provide safe conditions in therapy to facilitate the innate healing process and restore vitality. Individuals are able to experience joy, closer relationships, and a wider range of experience in the world.
How is Self-Regulation Therapy (SRT) integrated with traditional talk therapy?
I will help you examine how you might be repeating familiar childhood roles and attachment styles from your family-of-origin in your adult relationships. Developmental derailments may have caused nervous system dysregulation, which is the inability to modulate your emotional and behavioural responses. Do you tend to fight, flee, freeze or give in when you feel threatened by your partner? The particular pattern that got laid down in your nervous system can be altered. By resourcing you, we can create new neural pathways to flexibly manage challenges you encounter. New behaviours (eg: assertiveness) that you explore and practice in therapy begin to generalize to the outside world. Your communication with others will be more authentic, and the level of intimacy in your relationships will deepen.
The following story is from the book Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart by Christina Feldman & Jack Kornfield (1991, p.28):
As a physician I had a man come into my practice with bone cancer. His leg was removed at the hip to save his life.
He was twenty-four years old when I started working with him and he was a very angry man with a lot of bitterness. He felt a deep sense of injustice and a very deep hatred for all well people, because it seemed so unfair to him that he had suffered this terrible loss so early in life.
I worked with this man through his grief and rage and pain using painting, imagery, and deep psychotherapy. After working with him for more than two years there came a profound shift. He began “coming out of himself.” Later he started to visit other people who had suffered severe physical losses and he would tell me the most wonderful stories about these visits.
Once he visited a young woman who was almost his own age. It was a hot day in Palo Alto and he was in running shorts so his artificial leg showed when he came into her hospital room. The woman was so depressed about the loss of both her breasts that she wouldn’t even look at him, wouldn’t pay attention to him. The nurses had left her radio playing, probably in order to cheer her up. So, desperate to get her attention, he unstrapped his leg and began dancing around the room on one leg, snapping his fingers to the music. She looked at him in amazement, and then burst out laughing and said, “Man, if you can dance, I can sing.”
It was a year following this that we sat down to review our work together. He talked about what was significant to him and then I shared what was significant in our process. As we were reviewing our two years of work together, I opened his file and there discovered several drawings he had made early on. I handed them to him. He looked at them and said, “Oh, look at this.” He showed me one of his earliest drawings. I had suggested to him that he draw a picture of his body. He had drawn a picture of a vase, and running through the vase was a deep black crack. This was the image of his body and he had taken a black crayon and had drawn the crack over and over again. He was grinding his teeth with rage at the time. It was very, very painful because it seemed to him that this vase could never function as a vase again. It could never hold water.
Now, several years later, he came to this picture and looked at it and said, “Oh, this one isn’t finished.” And I said, extending the box of crayons, “Why don’t you finish it?” He picked a yellow crayon and putting his fingers on the crack he said, “You see, here – where it is broken – this is where the light comes through.” And with the yellow crayon he drew light streaming through the crack in his body. We can grow strong at the broken places.
~ Rachael Naomi Remen