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My Approach

Specializing in Couples Counseling, Healing Trauma, And Addiction

What is Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy?

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is a structured approach to couples therapy that is based on the science of adult love and bonding (attachment). Developed in the 1980’s by Drs. Susan Johnson and Les Greenberg, EFT is a highly researched, effective and evidence-based theory that helps couples understand and respond to each other’s needs.  EFT concepts have been validated by over 20 years of empirical research as well as research on the process of change and predictors of relationship success. Studies show that 70-75% of couples working with an EFT therapist move from relationship distress to recovery during the course of therapy.  Approximately 90% show significant improvements.  The results of EFT therapy tend to be robust and long lasting, something that other modalities of couples therapy cannot claim. 

How EFT Works?​

When we can’t find a safe, loving way to stay connected to our partner we go into a state of emotional pain and alarm. We automatically respond by protesting or withdrawal (fight or flight) when we feel this fear or panic.  Our partner will then often respond with his or her own protest or withdrawal.  This cycle is a “neural duet” between partners—they impact each other both physiologically and emotionally creating a feedback loop of negative interactions.

Somatic Experiencing

Somatic Experiencing was developed by Peter A. Levine, PhD to address the effects of post-traumatic stress (PTSD).  Somatic Experiencing aims to help people move past the place where they might be “stuck” in processing a traumatic event.  Somatic Experiencing sessions involve the introduction of small amounts of traumatic material and the observation of a client’s physical responses to that material, such as shallow breathing or a shift in posture.  The therapist will help the client find places of safety, whether that be a place in the body that is not activated by the trauma, or a physical place to retreat to in one’s mind.  Experiencing the sensation related to the traumatic event in a safe way allows a person to fully process the trauma.  Clients also achieve heightened awareness of their physical responses to stress, and this sill can serve them in everyday life.

According to Peter Levine, traumatic symptoms are not caused by the event itself, but because residual energy from the experience is not released from the body.  When we are unable to release this energy during and after the threat, our body.  When we are unable to release this energy during and after the threat, our body and brain may think we are unable to release this energy during and after the threat, our body and brain may think we are still in danger and continue to produce more chemicals for fight/flight/freeze.  Over time, this (often non-conscious) feeling of danger and accumulation of stress chemicals, can create difficult and complex trauma symptoms.

Some typical symptoms of trauma are:

  • Hyper-arousal: increased heart rate, difficulty breathing (rapid, shallow, panting), racing thoughts, bodily tension, worry, cold sweats

  • Hyper-vigilance: being on guard all the time

  • Intrusive imagery and flashbacks

  • Hyperactivity and restlessness

  • Startle responses to sudden loud noises/movements

  • Feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, depression

  • Abrupt mood swings (rage reactions, temper tantrums, shame)

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Anxiety, panic attacks

  • Excessive anger

Somatic Experiencing can help people with various experiences of trauma such as:

  • Natural disasters, (earthquakes, hurricanes, fire, etc.)

  • Severe childhood emotional, physical or sexual abuse

  • Violence or witnessing violence

  • Rape or assault

  • Catastrophic injuries or illness

  • Loss of a loved one

  • Automobile accidents (even minor ones)

  • Invasive medical or dental procedures (especially for children)

  • Falls (especially for children and elderly people)

  • Abandonment, especially for babies and young children

  • War

To learn more about Somatic Experiencing click here.

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