“The wound is the place where the light enters you.” -Jelaluddin Rumi
Most of my clinical experience and expertise is in the area of trauma, which often manifests as depression, anxiety, or panic, whether the individual identifies as a trauma survivor or not. I bring a trauma and attachment lens into the work I do with everyone who comes in to see me, as I believe that we have all had experiences that shocked or emotionally wounded us badly enough that an aspect of our self, or psyche, literally broke off, or we learned a pattern of relating that is no longer adaptive in adult life. This is similar to a “soul retrieval” approach to working with people, though I do not claim to be trained in any culturally specific soul retrieval approach.
I have been trained in Clinical Applications of Deep Imagination at John F. Kennedy University, and I bring this approach into inner child work to help integrate traumatized or repressed or “split off” aspects of self. This goes hand-in-hand with integrating stuck emotions, or emotions to which we have built resistance. Bringing the light of awareness to them helps them shift, and it can be a very somatic process. Additionally, I am signed up to train in the latest evidence-based modality for treating trauma, called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) this year (2019), and expect to be fully certified by October or November. What I don’t plan to do is lean into this modality as the only means for the healing that takes place in the therapeutic relationship.
When it comes to those who are experiencing depression or anxiety and do not link it to any specific trauma in early or more recent life, here is the approach I take: There are no two manifestations of depression that are exactly alike, and I want to be sensitive to that, and sensitive to everything that has been tried. Often, there is a sense of futility in one or more aspects of life, and on top of the futility is a resistance to the futility. Sometimes we become resistant even to the futility of overcoming the depression, and then it can seem totally hopeless. My approach, in a nutshell, involves looking at the futility and finding ways to release resistance to it, so that we can begin to see the windows that are open in the same structure that seems to have a sealed-shut door (you know, the one you’ve been ramming your head against). I do this with great sensitivity and care.
When it comes to anxiety, I often find that there is underlying trauma, and whether or not there is, the anxious individual is often sensitive, maybe even highly sensitive, and their whole energetic field and nervous system is feeling bombarded by stimulation with no way to process it or find respite. Sometimes, the biochemical alarm signals are going off because of trauma reminders, so that our nervous system is literally convinced we are unsafe when this is, in fact, not the case.
In all cases, I emphasize self-compassion, rewriting the narrative of our life, and making meaning. I bring cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques into the work, and yet I look even more deeply (beyond the thought patterns and behaviors) into who the person is as a whole, what needs are unmet, and what they are crying out for on a deep level. When appropriate, I welcome clients to view sub-clinical symptoms as letters from their soul, waiting to be opened so that they can become, paradoxically, curative factors.