Specialty Areas

Treatment Modalities:

The psychotherapy modalities that I employ include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Family Systems, Client-Centered Therapy, Cross-Cultural Therapy, Mindfulness, and some elements of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Solution-Focused Therapy, Psychoanalytic Therapy, Somatic Therapy, Spiritual-Based Therapy, and Dream Interpretation. In practice, this range of treatment models blends into my attempt to do what works. My best personal tools include empathy, active listening, and an understanding of context, which includes not only family dynamics, past and present, but also the dynamics of the workplace and cultural pressures and differences.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy involves identifying, understanding, and changing ineffective, unbeneficial, and/or harmful patterns of thought and action in order to address emotional, behavioral, and interpersonal problems. In the simplest terms, this therapy involves improving the regulation of emotion and reality testing. Research has shown CBT to be highly effective in the treatment of a wide variety of problems, including anxiety and depression. CBT forms the basis of much of the therapy I provide.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR):

My experience in using EMDR with clients has concurred with the research: this can be a very powerful and effective therapy. This specialized treatment involves the use of bilateral stimulation of the brain, through the use of eye movements, alternating tones, or alternating touches or vibrations, to engage accelerated information processing in the brain, much like what happens during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This is, however, nothing like hypnotherapy; with EMDR, the client remains in a fully conscious, here-and-now state of awareness, but accesses troubling memories while following moving lights with their eyes or listening to tones that shift from one ear to the other. While the exact mechanism of change is unclear as yet, this therapy can have a profound effect in reducing or eliminating symptoms resulting from trauma, whether recent or in the distant past. EMDR is also quite effective in treating chronic pain, and I have had some success with it in treating some aspects of anxiety and depression, difficulty losing weight, performance anxiety, and some addictive behaviors. This therapy can be effective for clients of all ages.

Family Systems:

Whether engaging with a client in individual, couples, or family therapy, I always try to maintain a systems awareness – that is, an understanding of the contexts within which the client is functioning. This ranges from family dynamics to the impact of culture, including the different expectations and demands of cultures that differ from mainstream America; systems therapy places such dynamics as focal points for treatment.

Client-Centered Therapy:

This therapeutic model is central to my approach to therapy, with its tenets involving a deep respect for each client. In practice, this means that I listen as actively as possible, trusting that each client holds unique keys to his/her own success in treatment, and working with the client, often following the client’s lead, to unlock the answers being sought. This does not mean that I simply sit and listen; rather, each session is tailored as much as possible to that client’s specific needs and issues.

Cross-Cultural Therapy:

As a middle-aged, middle class Caucasian American female, widowed, with adult children as well as grandchildren, I am aware that my perspective on life filters into my understanding of psychology and my presentation of therapy. Consequently, I have a deep interest in keeping myself informed on issues related to cultural diversity and how they might impact each specific client, whether related to mainstream pressures or expectations regarding such things as body image, parenting, or success, or issues that differ on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or age. As each therapist can only claim expertise about her or his own experience, cross-cultural therapy emphasizes an informed openness toward the impact of differences and similarities within the client’s experience, working toward increased understanding and tolerance, as well as identifying and treating culturally-based trauma.

Mindfulness:

Mindfulness is a term used to describe a range of techniques for bringing one’s attention and focus into the immediate, present moment. Research has shown Mindfulness Meditation to offer significant health benefits. I employ the teaching of several mindfulness techniques to help clients improve their coping skills, reduce anxiety, better manage strong emotions, including anger, and to improve interpersonal communication and relationship skills.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT):

Research has shown Dialectical Behavioral Therapy to be a highly effective therapy; I use some of the techniques and skill sets involved. DBT combines some of the cognitive-behavioral techniques for reality testing and regulation of emotion with concepts of mindful awareness and distress tolerance. The therapeutic climate includes unconditional acceptance, a neutral therapist stance, and client commitment to change, focused on specific skills. At its most effective, DBT includes a group therapy component which I do not offer.

Solution-Focused Therapy:

Solution-Focused Therapy is a form of brief therapy that is highly adaptable to certain problems. Sometimes a client may present a wide variety of concerns that seem, upon further exploration, to condense into one or two specific areas. Working together to clarify the problem and explore best solutions can be the form that this therapy takes. Often, clients may wish to address a larger range of problems, but time and other demands make a brief, solution-focused therapy the most practical. I have found that sometimes clients return to therapy at a later date to further explore the “bigger picture” when they are more able to do so.

Psychoanalytic Therapy:

The great insights of early psychoanalysts like Freud and Jung permeate much of our understanding of what it means to be human. While I do not pretend expertise in psychoanalysis, the search for deeper meaning is something that I highly respect. With some clients, this offers a further language to employ, opening up the world of symbolism, to increase the breadth of understanding in reaching the client’s goals.

Somatic Therapy:

Somatic modes of therapy involve helping the client to identify within his/her body physical responses to emotional experiences, and to use the knowledge gained to help process presenting difficulties. I am not certified in any particular form of somatic therapy, but I have learned several techniques that I have found very useful. Often, when someone has become emotionally “stuck,” helping him/her to focus on what is being experienced physically can create a new avenue of discovery and change.

Spiritual-Based Therapy:

Spirituality and religious belief can provide powerful supports and strengths, but sometimes religious or spiritual experiences can be the source of confusion, anxiety, and even trauma. Consequently, I always follow a client’s lead in discussing her/his spiritual life and the ongoing impact of spiritual or religious experiences. I keep my own religion private and do not endorse any particular perspective; rather, I am open to the profound value each person can find in her/his own beliefs, spiritual challenges, and perspective regarding the supportive role this does or does not play in her/his life.

Dream Interpretation:

My perspective on dreams is that they often represent, in symbolic language, messages from our pre-conscious to our conscious selves. Therefore, interpreting the symbols in dreams can offer some valuable insights. When interpreting a dream or dream image with a client, I use the perspective that each person is the expert on the meanings of her/his own dreams, so no one can say with any certainty what someone’s dream must mean. On the other hand, since much of what a dream can represent includes meanings that have never occurred to that person, someone else’s perspective can lead the way to profound insight. As a result, I follow the method of dream interpretation recommended by Dr. Jeremy Taylor, in which I would suggest what the dream might mean to me, if it were my dream. This allows room for the client to accept any “Ah ha!” of understanding from any part of my suggestions that resonate, and to ignore what does not. In either case, this can lead to fruitful discussion.

Psychological Assessment:

Initial Assessment:

With every new client, or a client returning to therapy after a lengthy break, I conduct a clinical interview to identify problem areas, specific emotional, physical, mental, behavioral, and interpersonal symptoms, how long such symptoms have persisted, and to assess what kind of help is needed. This initial evaluation results in a diagnosis that can be sent to an insurance company and concludes with a discussion of suggested treatment options. Psychological testing may be recommended, but this is typically not part of the process for most people requesting therapy.

Psychological Testing:

Often clients are referred specifically for psychological testing, for various reasons. Occasionally, I may recommend testing when the initial assessment suggests that further information is needed.

I administer a wide range of psychological tests, including tests of cognitive functioning, including IQ, memory, and attention, as well as behavioral assessment, achievement skills, and personality functioning. Psychological testing can take anywhere from an hour or two to several hours that may be spread over two or more days.

Common tests administered include:

  • Wechsler IQ tests
  • Wechsler Memory Scale
  • Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA)
  • Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC)
  • Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)
  • Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI)
  • Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT)
  • Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (KBIT)
  • Nelson Denny Reading Test
  • And others

What ages?

  • Birth to Three assessment
  • Pre-school and School age children
  • College readiness
  • Adults
  • Older adults

What is done with results?

A comprehensive report of the results and any recommendations I may have will be sent to the referring agent, and I usually discuss the report in detail with the client, or in the case of children, the client’s parents. I do my best to complete the report within one to two weeks following the completion of testing; when there is special need, I do my best to expedite the report.

Return to top