Archive for the ‘Individual Therapy’ Category

What Is EMDR?

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a treatment modality that was developed in 1987 by a clinical psychologist, Francine Shapiro. It is used as a salient and effective method for working through patients who have experienced a trauma.

The basic premise of EMDR is that most psychological disorders or symptoms are based on earlier life experiences. Painful experiences often become “frozen” in brain neuro networks, which sets in motion a pattern of feelings, behaviors and cognitions. These create which predictable, rigid responses to triggers which which may be reminiscent of the original traumatic event.

EMDR treatment is designed to rapidly metabolize (reprocess and functionally organize) dysfunctional residue from the past traumatic experiences and even turn these experiences into something useful. With EMDR painful experiences undergo a change in form and meaning.

In cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, some forms of depression and other psychological illnesses or syndromes, pathology is viewed as result of, or impacted by earlier experiences that are held in the nervous system in a state specific form. Painful experiences are reprocessed using an 8 step protocol administered by a trained clinician. During reprocessing, the memory system is stimulated and the painful incident is experienced in a way that provides additional insight and feelings that are enhancing rather than harmful to the person. The goal of EMDR is to “free” a person from being triggered by the earlier traumatic incident.

When You Need To Seek Treatment For Anxiety

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Experiencing some amount of anxiety is not uncommon for most people. In fact, in some situations it is even necessary for our survival. Anxiety at its best signals potential danger or a need to pay attention and be alert to what is going on or what is about to happen.

At its core, anxiety is fear, a sense of unease, a sense that  something “bad” is about to happen. It is a signal in our nervous system that tells us to be aware or alert.

“Healthy” anxiety happens in response to appropriate signals or situations. However when it becomes chronic or seemingly random and uncontrollable, it may be a good time to seek help. This type of anxiety signals overactive nervous system which is either genetically or trauma based. It is also important to note that if anxiety is not treated it can perpetuate itself and lead to more distressing types of anxiety such as panic, obsessive compulsive disorder, claustrophobia or agoraphobia.  These conditions ultimately limit one’s activities and the ability to lead a full life. They can also cause pain and suffering.

In order to treat anxiety, it is a good idea to start with psychotherapy to establish genesis of the anxiety. It may then be decided after a complete assessment if a particular anxiety can be treated with “talk therapy” or if there is a need to medication. The reason for medication is that genetically based anxiety may not respond to psychotherapy unless it is somewhat controlled. Even anxiety that is a result of trauma, may need to be helped by medication before any meaningful insight oriented or trauma work can take place.

It is important not to let chronic anxiety run amok as it can have serious life and emotional consequences.


How To Cope With a Panic Attack

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

A panic attack is one of the most distressing situations one can experience. Typically a panic attack can literally feel as though you are having a heart attack. They are often are accompanied with fast heartbeat, sweating, dizziness and sometimes short, shallow breathing. Those having a panic attack will often experience an extreme fear that something terrible is about to happen and believe there is no relief is in sight.

When coping with panic attack it is important to know first and foremost, that it will pass, and that it is not a heart attack. It may be difficult to actually realize this that the first time it happens however, and typically the first incident lands one in the emergency room. However, after a thorough check up, especially cardiovascular tests, it is usually determined that what is happening is in fact a panic attack. Usually a person will then be sent home, sometimes with a prescription of Xenax, Clonapine or another anti-anxiety medication. Sometimes a referral to a therapist or a psychiatrist will be recommended.

Aside from being aware that what is happening is panic, here are some tips that can be helpful when coping with panic attack.

  • Sit comfortably, with your feet firmly on the ground and get control of your breath. It helps to slow it down as this may bring down all the other accelerated functions in the body.
  • It may also help to gently rub your chest right over the heart.
  • Think positive thoughts, such as “I am safe”, “this will pass”, “I will be OK”.
  • Use your imagination and try to picture a place you typically associate with safety and calm.
  • If a person close to you is present, hold their hand.



5 Ways To Disconnect From Technology In 2018

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Let 2018 be a year of more real connection with people and less so with technology. I have been saying this to all my Individual and Couples Therapy clients for the past month.

Yes, human connection was always challenging due to our childhood and adult attachment traumas, but in the recent years, our obsession with our phones and other gadgets took it to another level.

So here are 5 strategies I came up with to help you disconnect from the device of your choice. Not rocket science but something to think about.

  • Don’t feel compelled to answer an email or respond to text just because it will only take a second. You know that if you just replay, there will be more to follow.
  • Turn off your devices when you get home for at least an hour or two and be present with your loved ones. If you live alone, just connect with yourself, your feelings, body and thoughts.
  • Own your dinner time, eating out, driving with your family or talking with friends. Take it back. No one and nothing, but dire life and death stuff or a true emergency should encroach on that special time.
  • Create pockets of time on weekends or other leisure time to not look at your devices. Try to relearn what it means to be in the moment or be present. Don’t take the phone to the gym or on a walk in the park. Look at it later. Definitely put the phone away if you are watching your favorite show with your partner or kids. For sure don’t find the two of you sitting on opposite ends of the couch with one eye on the TV and the other in the phone.
  • If you have to work at home at night, please do so after connecting with loved ones or having had some time to be with yourself. I am aware of the current workplace expectations, but I also know that it is possible to push back. I see this happen every time when a relationship is in big trouble and may be too late. Figure out your priorities.

How To Make Positive Changes In Your Life

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Therapy is about working hard on changing parts of yourself, things you are not satisfied with or you feel are damaging to your life.

Changing for a better life involves an honest and open examination of what is going on. It is a popular and accepted idea among therapists that we should love and honor all parts of ourselves. I think this is so in as much as all parts of ourselves are there for good reasons.

We should not hate and shame ourselves for our shortcomings. Most of these “parts” are coping skills and parts of our character that came to be as survival strategies in our childhood, dealing with our parents, siblings, peers and teachers. They worked for us at that time.

However, as adults in our current life and relationships we do not need to be locked into these patterns and, in fact, many of them are destructive to our lives, relationships and goals. These parts need to be recognized, accepted and respected, but also as adults, having choices, we need to figure out it this works for us now.

Another aspect of changes is that we often wish we could be a better parent, partner, friend, daughter or son, sister or brother. How would you like to be better? Be specific. Then really become more mindful and systematic about this and DO IT!

And if you can’t or don’t know what and how, may be it is time to consult a trusted and experienced individual therapist who can help understand the origins of these difficulties and help work through the underlying feelings and experiences so life can feel and be better.