Sometimes it can be like living in a dark room, where you can see the light and life of the world right outside your window, but it rarely if ever finds its way to you. It can feel endless. It can create feelings of desperation, loneliness, helplessness, hopelessness or an absence of feelings in general - like we have gone numb - we feel flat, or sometimes we feel nothing.
Reading, thinking or even saying the word "Anxiety" can increase our heart rate. We worry about what has happened or we stress about what might. Anxiety itself is particularly interested with the past and the future - it does a masterful job of robbing us of our present moment. Often accompanied by self-criticism or judgement. anxiety often focuses on how we could have done or said it differently, or how we can do or say something "the next time". Often, a part of Anxiety's job is to help us to avoid all possible shame, guilt, humiliation and/or embarrassment.
Some of us have suffered and/or lived through experiences we wish we could forget. Whether our trauma was a one-time event, a chronic situation, or a series of different and separate experiences, we might think things like, "I wish this never happened to me" or "It's in the past and I can't change it" or "No matter what I do this keeps showing up for me; it won't resolve/heal/change or die." The effects of trauma or abuse can show up in a myriad of ways: How we choose partners, chronic health problems, our inability to have relationships with any emotional or physical intimacy, having nightmares or a heightened startle-response... using substances, pornography, excessive spending, eating, or other risky or hurtful behaviors to try and dull the memories or the pain. But the relief we get from these outlets is temporary at best, destructive at worst.
Many of us feel these feelings or live with these burdens. We wish they would go away but we still find them with us despite our repeated attempts to resolve them. We may have tried talk therapy, read self-help books, confided in a doctor, parent, trusted friend or partner, but these emotions, states of being or even physical sensations seem to be fighting tooth and nail to hold on to us... Why won't they let go? Consider the possibility that they stay because they have a purpose, and working to understand that purpose can actually lead to real and lasting change.
I utilize the whole person in therapy: the emotions you feel, the physical symptoms or sensations you experience in your body, as well as the thoughts you think. This is referred to as "Bottom-up processing". I work this way to help you create a different life. I have helped many men and women find real relief from chronic, long-term, stubborn symptoms like these, and assisted them in finding a new way of both understanding and relating to themselves, their bodies, and those feelings or states of being that have persisted. It would be my honor to help you, too. So together, may you and I use curiosity, compassion and creativity so that you can begin to live the life you want.
Over many years of sitting with clients, one significant message became clear: There are no two clients who need the exact same approach to their therapy. And so, I offer an exquisitely personalized and tailored therapeutic experience for my clients. I have been trained and educated in several forms of psychotherapeutic modalities, and in various helpful and proven coping tools. Below are the core three theoretical orientations I work with, and below them you will find the handful of others that are utilized in the process of therapy I provide.
Internal Family Systems Model (IFS)
IFS is an evidence-based practice and as a clinical treatment, it has been rated effective for improving general functioning and well-being. In addition, it has been rated promising for improving: phobia, panic, and generalized anxiety disorders and symptoms; physical health conditions and symptoms; personal resilience/self-concept; and depression and depressive symptoms. The work is in getting to know different aspects of your personality. We all have had the experience of inner-conflict: a part of us really wants to go to an event, while another part would rather stay home. A part of us wants to clean the house, while another part of us somehow, repeatedly keeps us glued to the sofa. A part of us knows a relationship we are in isn't working, but other parts of us are too afraid to leave. Below you will find two clear examples of what I mean by "aspects of our personality". Take a look at the first video, a scene from the Pixar film, "Inside Out"; it is a GREAT example of how our minds work on the inside... the second video, "If my brain held a morning meeting" is a more literal example of how different aspects of our personality work against each other under certain circumstances. Perhaps you will find one or both of the clips relatable. : )
If My Brain Held a Morning Meeting
Mindful Self-Compassion combines the skills of mindfulness and self-compassion to heighten our ability to cultivate emotional wellbeing. Research has shown that self-compassion is “strongly associated with emotional wellbeing, coping with life challenges, lowering levels of anxiety and depression, healthy habits such as diet and exercise, and more satisfying personal relationships.” It helps to develop an innate strength we all have, which enables more full ourselves. To be able to acknowledge, be curious about, be with, and learn from our shortcomings, and make necessary changes while embodying an attitude of kindness, compassion and respect for self and others. Mindfulness is the first step in that process: turning towards our thoughts, emotions and sensations with curiosity and/or loving awareness. Self-compassion is the second step: bringing curious and loving awareness to ourselves. These two steps when utilized together help us achieve an inner state that is more kind, warm, connected, and present during difficult moments in our lives. (some information garnered from MSC website).
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Model (SMP)
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a methodology for facilitating the processing of un-integrated physical (sensorimotor) reactions to trauma and for resolving the destructive effects of these reactions on cognitive and emotional experience. These sensorimotor reactions involve autonomic nervous system arousal and orienting/defensive responses, which seek to resolve to a point of rest and satisfaction in the body. During a traumatic event successful fight or flight would often resolve these reactions. However, for the majority of traumatized clients, this does not occur. Traumatized individuals are plagued by the return of dissociated, incomplete or ineffective sensorimotor reactions in such forms as intrusive images, sounds, smells, body sensations, physical pain, constriction, numbing and the inability to control their nervous systems’ arousal. Most psychotherapeutic approaches favor emotional and cognitive processing over body processing, however, “since somatic symptoms are significant in traumatization, the efficacy of trauma treatment may be increased by the addition of interventions that facilitate sensorimotor processing interventions can help regulate and facilitate emotional and cognitive processing, and we find that confronting somatic issues by directly addressing sensorimotor processing can be useful in restoring normal healthy functioning for victims of trauma regardless of the nature of the trauma's origin. However, we also find that sensorimotor processing alone is insufficient; the integration of all three levels of processing – sensorimotor, emotional and cognitive – is essential for recovery to occur.” (SMP website)
Other methods Stacey draws from include: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Creative Expression (Art therapy), Sand-tray therapy, Somatic Experiencing, Gestalt, Attachment theory, Bibliotherapy (books/film), and teachings from the research of Brene Brown (Vulnerability, Shame, Empowerment, Leadership), Steven Porgess and Deb Dana (Polyvagal Theory).