Therapy for Trauma
When you have a distressing experience that overwhelms your mind’s ability to cope, your mind stores that experience as an unprocessed traumatic memory—an experience to be dealt with later. Traumatic memories are different than ordinary memories. When you remember an ordinary memory, you can calmly tell the story of what happened; however, when something reminds you of a traumatic memory, you feel like you’re reliving the traumatic events that happened to you. This brings up emotional distress that can cause problems in your daily life.
We all have a natural ability to heal from traumatic experiences; however, sometimes your mind requires some help to get started with the healing process. I offer a form of therapy called EMDR that helps activate your mind’s built-in ability to heal from trauma. EMDR doesn’t require homework between sessions and it doesn’t require you to talk in depth about your traumatic experiences. Instead, I will guide you as you gently but systematically focus your attention on your unprocessed traumatic memories so your mind can reprocess and heal them. Once your mind has fully reprocessed a traumatic memory, the memory stops being traumatic; you can still remember and describe the unfortunate events that happened, but remembering these events no longer makes you feel emotionally distressed.
EMDR was developed in the 1990s; since then, research has shown it to be an effective therapy for trauma. EMDR has been recognized and recommended by a number of organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. I completed EMDR training with the Maiberger Institute in 2018; since then, EMDR has become a focus of my work.
Therapy for Attachment Issues
Attachment is the bond that forms between you and important people in your life. You learned how to have loving relationships when you were a young child, based on your relationships with your parents (or other caregivers). If those early relationships went well and you learned healthy ways of being in relationship, you would have developed a secure attachment style. However, if there were problems in your early relationships with your parents and you learned less-healthy ways of being in close relationships, you would have developed an insecure attachment style.
Your attachment style persists into adulthood and affects your close relationships—including your relationship with yourself. A secure attachment style leads to good self-esteem and satisfying interpersonal relationships, while an insecure attachment style leads to problems. If you have an insecure attachment style:
You may anxiously seek close relationships. You may become overly worried about what’s going on for the other person, and you may have trouble being independent and soothing yourself.
Or, you may be excessively independent. You may keep yourself emotionally distant from others, and you may have trouble accepting comfort and support from others.
Or, you may seek safety and comfort in relationships, but you may experience fear and mistrust around anyone you start to get close to. This may lead you to go back and forth between isolating yourself completely and seeking relationships intensely.
In therapy, we can heal these insecure attachment patterns; you can learn new, healthy patterns of secure attachment that can support more positive experiences in your relationship with yourself and with others. In our sessions, I will guide you as you imagine being a young child with parents who are ideally suited to you and your needs. These ideal parents will provide you with consistent, predictable support. They will give you exactly the right amount of space, and they will never make you feel ashamed or afraid. They will comfort and soothe you when you need it, and they will encourage you to explore and grow into your best, strongest self. As a result of this therapy, over time, you are likely to feel more stable inside, with stronger self-esteem and more positive experiences in relationships.
This therapy approach was developed by Daniel P. Brown, associate clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. In a pilot study conducted by Daniel P. Brown, 12 patients with severe insecure attachment were treated with this approach for an average of three and a half years; after this treatment, all 12 patients had secure attachment.