I specialize in the treatment of trauma. My approach moves beyond being an empathetic listener to using state-of-the-art, evidenced-based strategies for creating relief and change. I approach treatment from the perspective that genetics, temperament, and family dynamics influence a person’s response to difficult experiences. Research has increasingly shown us that adverse life events, especially those which occur early in development, can create vulnerability to later struggles, including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, and other mental health conditions. I find that individuals have significant characteristics of resiliency and strength that have been overshadowed in attempts to cope with life stressors. My treatment process involves identifying and disrupting distorted response patterns in order to restore appropriate self-worth, realistic optimism, and relational health.
Perhaps the saddest and most tragic story ever told, is a beautiful soul made to feel anything but.
– William Broms
My treatment approach is primarily shaped by the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) Model, a neurologically-based, trauma-informed perspective foundational to EMDR therapy. My theoretical orientation also incorporates the theories of Cognitive-Behavioral, Family Systems, and Structural Dissociation using the Progressive Approach (Mosquera). Other perspectives informing my work include the Gottman Institute approach to couples therapy, Love & Logic® parenting strategies, and the Amen Clinic’s brain-based assessment and treatment planning. I work from a strength-based perspective, which uses the client’s history as a guide, but focuses on finding practical ways to bring healing and hope to their present challenges.
Rather than adopting a passive “reflective-listener” role, I actively collaborate with my clients throughout our work together. My typical treatment process begins with a multi-dimensional assessment. The assessment includes extensive history gathering and asking the client to complete various questionnaires that provide me information vital to the development of an accurate diagnostic perspective of the presenting symptoms and issues. I then work with the client to develop clear goals for our work together, identifying what specific changes will signal that desired progress is being made. I request that the client complete questionnaires that assess their mood and other symptoms at the beginning and end of every session. I also ask for feedback as to how the client felt each session went. This process allows me to have a more accurate understanding of how the client is feeling internally and how we are progressing with the treatment, in order to increase the likelihood of a positive therapeutic outcome.
I have incorporated therapy dogs into my practice for more than a decade. Since sessions have transitioned to being primarily online, my bengal cats have been making appearances in sessions. I have found that my clinical experience validates what research shows regarding the power of animals to calm the nervous system and that their presence provides powerful grounding, comfort, and much-needed comic relief during the challenging work of therapy. To supplement their occasional participation in therapy directly, the various therapy animals in my practice now also provide these benefits between sessions on their own Instagram account @PenelopePoppiseed.
Additionally, I find referrals to other professionals for concurrent services can support the process of therapy in vital ways, so I coordinate treatment with physicians, psychiatrists, neurofeedback providers, registered dietitians, naturopathic practitioners, and other types of professionals as appropriate.