Here are some of the questions I am asked most often:
How do you help people with stress and anxiety?
Your brain comes hard-wired with an “emergency response system” that is necessary for your survival . When your brain perceives a threat, it signals your body to engage its “fight-or-flight” response so you can take immediate action to deal with the threat.
Once the threat is gone, your body is meant to return to a normal, relaxed state. Unfortunately, many of us have stress or anxiety responses that keep our nervous systems stuck in a constant state of fight-or-flight.
In this state everything can feel like it is a life or death situation, even though some part of your brain may know you are over-reacting. This nervous system response can be overwhelming and terrifying, especially if you don’t feel like you can control it.
This is often not something you can think your way out of. Why? Because if your nervous system habitually goes into or stays in fight-or-flight mode, you need tools and skills that can help you calm your nervous system and rewire your brain’s habitual anxiety responses.
Using practical, science-based tools and techniques, I help clients learn to “get their hands on the controls” of their nervous systems. This process helps them regain control of their emotions, think more clearly, and make better decisions about their situations and feel better about themselves.
How does your approach increase well-being?
Chronic stress, anxiety, and trauma symptoms can affect well-being at every level. When we are calm and relaxed, information flows smoothly to all parts of the brain. We feel present, balanced, and connected. But when our sympathetic “fight-or-flight” response is activated, information flow to the cortical regions of the brain is inhibited.
Mentally, our capacity for clear thinking and decision making is inhibited. We can get tunnel vision and our ability to connect with others is diminished. Emotionally, we can get dysregulated and stuck in catastrophic or disaster thinking. Over time, these patterns of emotional reactivity become more and more habitual. They become our normal state of being, decreasing our mental an emotional flexibility.
Physically, chronic stress and anxiety can lead to poor sleep, over- or under-eating, high blood sugar levels, and elevated blood pressure. A chronically activated sympathetic nervous system can cause or exacerbate digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome, reflux/heartburn, and nausea.
These techniques, used over time and in the right ways, can calm the limbic system, facilitate information flow to the cortical regions of the brain, and activate the body’s parasympathetic “rest-and-digest” functions to repattern even long-standing patterns of emotional reactivity and stress-related physical issues.
In addition, spiritual well-being can be enhanced by using these techniques to help clients have a felt-sense experience of their deeper, wiser selves, the part that is good and whole despite what they have been through. Normalizing this experience and communicating about it in accessible ways can help clients access and develop a relationship with what might be called their spiritual dimension without the need for language associated with any particular tradition.
This practical, concrete approach to working with body, mind, and spirit can be a powerful tool for healing and nervous system integration. Applied in specific, target ways, these techniques to help clients increase their resilience and so they can live with greater power, peace, and possibility. They can be incorporated into whatever other treatment approaches you already use.
Are you a psychotherapist?
No. While I have a masters degrees in counseling psychology and my work is rooted in the neurobiology of change and self-compassion, I am not a psychotherapist. This work is a skills-based approach to regulating emotions, lowering stress and anxiety, transforming negative self-narratives, and supporting trauma recovery. It is not psychotherapy, although many clients find it to be a helpful adjunct to psychotherapy. While it can help with anxiety and trauma symptoms and some health conditions, it is not a substitute for appropriate medical or behavioral health care.
Do you work with people who have PTSD or severe anxiety?
I am not a psychotherapist. This work is a skills-based approach to regulating the nervous system. That said, I have worked with many people who have trauma histories and/or anxiety, with and without diagnoses of a particular disorder. Many have increased their ability to interrupt and rewire their nervous system responses. While this work can help with anxiety and trauma symptoms and some health conditions, it is not a substitute for appropriate medical or behavioral health care, although it can be a helpful adjunct to either.
How long does the process take?
For many people, patterns of anxiety, self-criticism, negative thinking, low self-worth, and limiting beliefs and expectations have been running them for years, especially if they have a history of trauma. Deep and lasting change takes time and your journey will be as unique as you are.
If your primary goal is learning to manage stress and anxiety, most clients find that five sessions is generally enough to learn the basics. In that time you will learn concrete skills that you can implement into your life and begin to change your habitual patterns of emotional reactivity.
Some clients are interested in deeper, more transformative work. In those cases we often work together for 3 months to a year.
Do I have to see you in person?
While I would love to see you in person, that of course is not always possible. I work with clients virtually either by phone or via Zoom.
Why do you work with heart-focused practices?
This is a great question – and a big one.
The first answer is biological. There is a constant conversation going on all the time between your heart and your brain. When you are stressed, anxious, frustrated, or overwhelmed, your heart rhythm pattern becomes more disordered or incoherent. This sends a signal that inhibits our ability to stay calm and think clearly. Engaging in techniques that help your heart rhythm pattern become more ordered, or coherent, sends signals to the brain that calm the stress response, facilitate your ability to think clearly, and harmonize all of the systems in the body. Over time, these techniques can help to change your basline stress response and manage anxiety.
But that is only part of the story; heart-focused practices go deeper than just managing our nervous system.
All of us have at our core a part that is good and whole. All of us. No matter where we have been, what we have been through, or how fatally flawed we feel. Heart-focused practices help us reconnect to that core and align with and act from our deeper truth. They help us let go of judgment and perfectionism and experience a more compassionate perspective of ourselves and others. They help us become more integrated, narrowing the gap between how we feel on the inside and how others see us on the outside. And most importantly, they allow us to quiet our critical inner dialogs and bring the voice of the heart into the conversation of our lives.
I have also found that when you engage the wisdom and power of the heart, transforming inaccurate self-narratives and habitual emotional responses happens faster and more easily than you might think!
Do you accept insurance?
I do not accept insurance. However, I do offer a discount when you pay for 4 or 8 sessions at once. A sliding scale is available if needed.