Do you constantly worry about work, health or relationships? Or find yourself spending more time worrying about life events than spending time enjoying them?
Constant worry can create changes in our thinking, our bodies, and our behaviors. People with generalized anxiety often experience bodily tension, trembling, headaches, GI upset, and racing heartbeat. It can be a struggle to concentrate and focus. Sleep disturbances may also occur. This state of constant worry can leave people feeling irritable, frustrated, and full of despair.
In therapy you will learn how to recognize the difference between helpful worry and unhelpful worry. I can teach you mindfulness skills that help you respond to exaggerated fears with more ease and improved concentration. Mindfulness is a powerful tool to address anxiety. You will learn how to experience the physical sensations to help disrupt the flood of anxiety. You will practice techniques that train your relaxation response. I will help you look at your worries in new ways to understand unconscious patterns that tend to cause and trigger your anxiety. This understanding will give you more choice and an opportunity to proactively respond to anxiety in a balanced and healthy way.
How I can help with constant worry
Ever feel like you just don’t fit in? Or feel unsure about what to say or not say to people in groups or even one on one? Do you feel awkward about meeting new people or making friends? Do you find yourself avoiding social situations or job opportunities?
How I can help with social anxiety
Social anxiety is a form of self-consciousness in which people feel preoccupied about being negatively judged by others. People with social anxiety tend to spend hours, even days, evaluating their social performance and analyzing the response of others. Social anxiety is painful, and it can leave people feeling stuck or paralyzed in social situations.
One of the most effective techniques you will learn is “Cognitive Restructuring”. I will help you challenge the validity and importance of the thoughts that you are always negatively evaluated. Using a combined approach of yoga strategies and mindfulness, I will help you develop skills to soothe yourself when interacting with others. A valuable technique we will practice is imaginal exposure, in which you will picture anxiety-provoking social situations and challenge these fears using the strategies you learn. In psychodynamic work, you will develop insight into anxiety patterns rooted in childhood and how these old relational maps get played out in current situations. You will develop the freedom to express your true voice when interacting with others.
Panic attacks can feel devastating. They strike out of the blue without any warning. During an episode you may experience difficulty breathing, heart pounding, sweating, or feeling faint. Panic attacks feel so terrible that you might even fear you are going to die. People often believe that something is medically wrong and find themselves at the ER or in their doctor’s office. It’s usually at the doctor’s office where people learn that anxiety has caused their physical symptoms. People often fear that a panic attack will happen again and begin avoid their normal activities. Panic attacks can be successfully treated. The sooner you seek help, the better.
It’s important to first understand the nature of a panic attack. I will help you identify and recognize the thoughts and sensations experienced from the beginning, middle, and end of an episode. You will learn about flight or fight activation and what is physically happening to you during a panic attack. I will teach you techniques to help you stay grounded and aware while you experience similar bodily sensations related to a fear response. This practice will improve your ability to stay calm and take care of anxiety instead of catastrophizing. By using these kinds of exposure techniques, you will improve your ability to tolerate anxiety states and develop a sense of “riding the wave” of anxiety. Sometimes panic attacks are signal that more insight oriented work is indicated. A combination of CBT and psychodynamic work will help illuminate connections with past experiences that play out in present circumstances. You will begin to feel a sense of mastery and no longer at the mercy of sudden panic states.
How I can help with panic attacks
Separation anxiety can be heartbreaking for children and parents. Although some amount of anxiety related to separating from parents is natural, children with separation anxiety react to separation as a threat to their sense of safety. Does your child become tearful or hang onto you when saying goodbye? Or maybe they refuse to sleep alone, or go to school? Do they express sudden physical complaints like stomachaches or headaches? Children who suffer from separation anxiety experience extreme worry concerning separation from parents or loved ones. They can suffer from nightmares or express crying tantrums when confronted with separation. Separation anxiety can create strain on the parent child relationship, which often leads to more confusion and more anxiety for both parents and children.
I help children learn to gradually face their fear of separation and understand the meaning of their anxiety. I teach children about the body signs that signal worry feelings are present. Through mindfulness and yoga, I teach them both fun ways and soothing ways to “take care of worry feelings”. In this practice, children will learn to identify when their “alarm system” is going off at times when everything is actually safe. Further, children will learn how to recognize when a “worry bully” is on their shoulder and how to challenge the worries so they can feel safe to explore new situations and meet new people. In play therapy, children discover underlying reasons for their worries and use the play to practice skills to cope with anxiety.
Parents are a big part of successful child therapy. Parents will learn how to help their children through co-regulation. I teach parents mindfulness based parenting techniques to help sooth their child with empathy skills and create “go to” strategies to take care of their worry feelings.
How I can help with separation anxiety
Attachment & Developmental Trauma
When people hear the word “trauma” they often think of people experiencing horrific events that leave their marks for years to come. While this is accurate, it is only one part of the picture. Recent research has started to look at people where their trauma did not come in discrete events, but slowly and steadily, over many years, especially in childhood. We call this “developmental” or “attachment” trauma and this can have just as much impact as the sudden types of trauma associated with post-traumatic stress.
People who grow up in extremely unpredictable environments can experience intense feelings of abandonment left over from early childhood. In this context, trauma can be understood as a condition in which your body continues to get triggered into living an old situation as if you were back there again. These feelings may manifest in patterns of relational conflict or difficulties in down regulating strong feeling states such as fear or anger. People may suffer from somatic problems from gastrointestinal distress to chronic headaches. Sleep may be disturbed.
People who have experienced attachment trauma develop a loss of trust in others and a loss of the belief that somebody will look after them. They tend to shoulder that blame for the developmental trauma and may experience chronic feelings of ineffectiveness or self-loathing. People may live life with the expectation of a return of the trauma, re-experiencing relationship patterns in which they become preoccupied with and/or avoid and distance themselves in interpersonal relationships.
In trauma sensitive, attachment focused therapy I help people understand the developmental and relationship issues related to disruptions in early attachment relationships. Together we address traumatic stress including feelings of fear, shame, grief and loss. I use experience-based approaches such as mindfulness and yoga to enhance emotional regulation and work directly with the physiological effects of trauma. I also integrate trauma-specific treatments such as EMDR and Internal Family Systems in the therapy. Through psychodynamic work, people further develop insight into the patterns rooted in childhood and gain a sense of awareness rather than habitually playing out the traumatic patterns. By working in this way, people recognize the qualities of healthy attachment and build toward resiliency.