The goal of therapy is to help people develop more attuned nervous systems. I do this using concepts from four areas and approaches: Attachment Theory, Polyvagal Theory (PVT), Internal Family Systems (IFS), and Brain Spotting.
Insecure, conflicted, and ambivalent attachments are a major cause of anxiety, depression, and unwanted behaviors. One is born with certain capacities to comfort, soothe, and regulate oneself. The parents in a child's life are intended to co-regulate with the child in a way that allows the child's ability to self-regulate to grow and expand. Therapy helps individuals realize their ability to help themselves, gain perspective, and resolve internal conflicts. It also helps individuals bring to mind good and positive relationships, memories, and experiences in order to self-regulate. Co-regulation also occurs in therapy when the patient is vulnerable and the therapist is emotionally-engaged resulting in the patient feeling deeply understood. In order for the frustration, neglect, trauma, and pain of past relationships to be healed, parts of a person must be related to by the therapist in an experimental way. This allows the patient- therapist- relationship to become more prominent then the neglected and disappointing one.
According to PVT, the goal of therapy is to help patients develop a well-attuned nervous system (NS). PVT says there are three states of the NS: Safety, Fight or Flight (F/F), and Shutdown/Collapse/Frozen (SD). While a healthy NS fluctuates between these three states with varying frequencies, one experiences suffering when he gets stuck in F/F or SD. Both of these survival states are developed in the absence of adequate emotional support to protect oneself from emotional dysregulation and to feel safe in the world. We typically associate F/F with anxiety and SD with depression. In F/F, a person protects himself through action (fight or flight) while in SD one protects himself through inactivity and disappearance. Therapy helps a person develop the ability to stay in a state of safety more often and to return there more quickly when emotionally dysregulated.
Internal Family Systems
IFS says one is born with an undamaged self from which come the 7 Cs: calm, clarity, compassion, connection, courage, curiosity, and creativity. While this self remains undamaged despite the trauma and neglect one experiences in life, parts take on roles in the form of protectors and exiles. Both protectors and exiles have their own personalities which include thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Exiles are parts that have negative feelings, trauma, and hurt associated with them. A protector's job is to keep exiles suppressed and out of awareness. Examples of protectors include anger, procrastination, addictions, eating disorders, self-harm, control, busyness, and suicidal ideation.The role of therapy is to unburden these protectors and exiles from their extreme roles so one can live from a more self-led presence. My role is to interact with you in an energetic, compassionate, and emotionally-present way so protectors relax and fall away and allow us to attend to the exiles in compassionate, caring, and healing ways. The energy freed up from the unburdening of protectors and exiles can then be used in other aspects of one's life.
Brain spotting is an exercise designed to help one access and connect with traumatic, painful, and negative emotions in the presence of an emotionally engaged and available therapist. It is based on the idea that when one experiences trauma, it gets physically and emotionally stuck in the person. By moving one's eyes in the visual field until he finds a spot that connects him to a heightened physical and emotional intensity, one can reset that part of his being where the trauma got stuck. Before beginning the exercise, one can either identify several specific traumatic experiences or allow his mind and body to lead him to places in himself that need healing and resolution. I appreciate and value this process because it can empower and give one a high degree of control over their ability to help, heal, and comfort themselves as they work through trauma.