Evolving significantly from its Freudian roots, psychodynamic psychotherapy is an emotional and relational discipline known for facilitating deep and long-lasting change. Psychodynamic Therapy is widely validated as the most effective therapy for complex problems often stemming from childhood trauma. Clients meet with a therapist once or twice weekly and work together to understand thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Key features of Psychodynamic Therapy include focus on emotions and relationships, exploring attempts to avoid distress, identification of recurring themes and patterns, and explorations of one’s inner life, including fantasies and dreams.
COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT)
CBT is a highly effective therapy, especially in treating anxiety and depression. CBT includes active identification and challenging of dysfunctional thoughts and feelings. At Total Spectrum Counseling, we provide education about psychological processes, teach specific skills, and assign homework to practice and solidify what is learned in therapy. CBT seeks to be time limited, solution oriented, and focuses on specific goals agreed upon by therapist and client.
DIALECTICAL BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (DBT)
DBT is the gold standard therapeutic intervention for those who experience extreme emotional states. It was originally developed for use with clients who are diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. However, DBT skills have also proven to be useful in dealing with anxiety, depression, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and recovering addicts. The primary focus of DBT is to implement specific skills, such as, assertiveness, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques in order to establish emotional regulation, improve interpersonal relationships, and eliminate harmful behaviors.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a well-studied and validated method for working with posttraumatic stress and anxiety. Traumatic memory is frightening, and can flood us in expected ways at unexpected times. That loss of control can, in and of itself, be re-traumatizing. EMDR is a specific therapeutic method for revisiting past trauma in order to reduce the emotional intensity of the experience and ultimately re-write the autobiography of the memory.
Traumatic memory comes on unexpectedly
The reason traumatic memory comes on unexpectedly, is because these memories are dissociated, that is, they have broken off and live separately from the parts of our mind we use to live day-to-day. This is a normal protective mechanism that all people have, and all of us dissociate under extreme stress. When something reminds us of the trauma, even something minor like a word or smell, the memory can stampede back out of nowhere.
The first goal of EMDR is to establish safety. Once someone feels safe, they are empowered to begin working with traumatic memory. During later EMDR sessions, traumatic memories are recalled while a stimulus engages both sides of the brain in an alternating fashion. Doing this allows the traumatic memories to be integrated into our day-to-day mind, so that they no longer pose a threat. Although most EMDR therapy utilizes eye movements, studies show that bilateral brain stimulation is the most important factor, and this can be achieved in many ways. Although session frequency varies, it is not unusual to have relief after only a few EMDR sessions. For more information, please visit EMDR.com
INDIVIDUALS, FAMILIES & COUPLES
Therapy is essentially freedom – freedom from maladaptive habits, freedom from childhood and adult traumas, freedom to respond to the stresses in life in the best possible way to serve you, your values, and your loved ones. Therapy is a journey and it is a relationship. Both therapist and client explore together, reaching a mutually agreed upon destination.
Therapy will focus on families as a whole. The strengths of family members are used in solving problems and working together. Although individual therapy is typically the modality of choice for most people, the majority of psycological challenges that bring people to counseling stem from problematic family relationships. Miscommunications, differing needs and goals, different personality styles and temperaments – all these have the potential to create an environment in which problems arise – anxiety, depression, meltdowns, and even psychosis in some cases.
Family therapy is inherently more difficult than individual therapy due to all the people in the room. Many therapists shy away from this modality because it is complicated and often messy. This is where I excel. I am keen at quickly identifying problematic family patterns. I switch perspectives of all family members and serve as a universal translator for thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In this way, family therapy can be more quick and effective than individual therapy and create lasting change to protect the mental health of all current and future family members.
Family therapist Virginia Satir said, “I want to love you without clutching, appreciate you without judging, join you without invading, invite you without demanding, leave you without guilt, criticize you without blaming, and help you without insulting. If I can have the same from you, then we can truly meet and enrich each other.”
This ideal of an intimate relationship seems harder and harder to achieve. Our own traumas, unrealistic expectations, value clashes, and being surrounded by the constant distractions of everyday life can be toxic to our deepest, most important relationships. Conflicts can arise, contempt and judgment prevail, and we begin to separate from one another. When blame surfaces, and we become defensive, we lose track of the various forces in the background that affect our relationships – many of them not anyone’s fault. Couples therapy is a place to focus on each other, and re-focus efforts to sustain a relationship away from the distractions and stresses of everyday life.
A note about sex-positivity: One reason for conflict in couples is differences in sexual desires and values. We practice from a sex-positive perspective. Sex-positivity is an attitude that accepts and celebrates the diversity of expression of human sexuality. Many therapists are quick to judge sexual behavior based on preconceived notions or an overly moralistic view of sexuality. We believe that these types of cultural judgments universally lead to negative treatment outcomes. Whatever difficulties you may be experiencing in the realm of sexuality, you can be assured Total Spectrum Counseling is a shame and judgment free zone.