Life Transitions Therapy
Do you find yourself feeling stuck in a job, a relationship or situation that does not feel “right” to you? Depression and anxiety are natural consequences of being in that place. You may feel as if things can not change, or scared of making the changes that would serve you best. My belief is that it can change, because I’ve witnessed it in others as well as myself. My job is to listen, without judgment, and offer you tools. Therapy can include CBT, Mindfulness practices, Narrative therapy and EMDR to assist you in making the choice that is right for you.
Trauma is defined by the American Psychological Association as:
“an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea.”
We’ve all dealt with trauma in our lives. At times, we are able to self soothe. Or perhaps receive the emotional and physical support/protection we needed to fully process it. At other times, we haven’t had the resources, internal and external. And the moment seems to get “stuck” inside of us. That’s when this practical therapy can be of great service.
On the EMDRIA site, the page “How Does EMDR Work?”, discusses trauma:
“We do know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes ‘frozen in time,’ and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.
EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.”
EMDR therapy utilizes something called bilateral stimulation. This can be eye movements or stimulating one side of the body and then another. Examples are tapping on the legs or hands, or listening to music in headphones. This activates both sides of the brain. This is, in part, what facilitates full processing of painful previous experiences.
EMDR processes incomplete painful experiences/memories. Furthermore, it has also works to enhance desired skills and resources. Resources include mindfulness, focus and confidence. And, bolstering internal resources is very helpful in trauma treatment.
I have worked with many adults dealing with depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and attention deficit issues. Bipolar disorder episodes can cause shifts in energy and mood. I have found mindfulness techniques, as well as utilizing some aspects of EMDR, can be very helpful in therapy, in addition to traditional CBT/talk therapy. Sleep hygiene is an important component of my therapy as well.
One of my favorite techniques to assist people suffering from anxiety involves utilizing HeartMath, a relatively inexpensive training system that monitors one’s pulse and reports moment to moment “coherence”. It is not invasive and is easily transportable – just a USB pulse-meter attached to a computer. Visualization and utilizing other aspects of EMDR has proven to be very helpful in anxiety therapy as well.
Finally, part of many people’s success with some of these disorders is utilizing medications, for short or long term assistance. I understand the need to treat the whole person – body, mind and soul. I respect your decision to choose or not to choose medication as part of this journey.
I began working with women in Child Protective Services in the late 1990s. At the time, I was in my early twenties and had very little child rearing experience of my own. Since then, I have experienced (personally) the impacts pregnancy has on a woman. I won’t try to name them all. And that, more than anything else, motivated me to seek out education and training. I received training from Postpartum Support International, Central DuPage Hospital in suburban Chicago, and the Gottman Institute.
First of all, my approach to women (and men) during this time is one of acceptance. No one knows your journey the way you do. I believe the best parenting advice I have ever received was to take what I needed and leave the rest. And this is equally important in my work with parents, or parents to be. I can offer tools, in the form of processing anxieties, recognizing the need for self care and assisting in increasing and building healthy communication. This includes referrals for trusted Midwives, Doctors/Psychiatrists/Nurse Practitioners and Doulas in the Milwaukee area. Local and national support groups can be found on the Assistance page. Your job is to take what you need for yourself and your family, and not worry about the rest. You are undertaking the most challenging vocation in the world. You need support and encouragement.
If Mom, baby or partner experienced trauma (C-Section, induction, epidural, or witnessing these, for example) during the birthing process, EMDR and narrative therapy, as well as traditional CBT, can be very helpful for those affected. Birth story circles and one on one narrative therapy sessions have been especially beneficial for women I have worked with.
Much of my training in the AODA field has been in residential and intensive outpatient treatment. I have studied and utilized Stages of Change Theory/Transtheoretical Model, and Community Reinforcement and Family Therapy. I introduce Self help models, Women Specific models, as well as traditional CBT.
In individual therapy, working with individuals dealing with AODA issues involves different things for different people. Some people are newly sober and maintaining sobriety with other – self help, medication, spiritual – support. Many times, recognizing the presence of the positives of sobriety and building upon them is very helpful. Others have or have had long term sobriety. They may be looking for new tools while working through the emotions that come with the journey. Some may be coming to terms with the effect of alcohol and drugs on their families. Some may want to explore what they experienced in their own families, growing up.
Bringing Baby Home
After pregnancy, everyone – Mom, partner and baby – go through a lot of changes. If labor and delivery went as hoped and/or planned, there are still massive changes for everyone involved. Bringing Baby Home is an educational program designed to help Mom and her partner keep their relationship strong. And learn to have a healthy relationship with baby. This program was created by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, two of the most influential relationship researchers in the world. They have been working with couples for more than 40 years. This program is a result of research from more than 3,000 couples that have participated in the Gottman Institute’s workshop.