Great Therapy is a Great Relationship
It's not about techniques or specialized protocols—countless studies highlight the quality of the relationship between the client and the therapist as the most important factor in therapeutic effectiveness.
You deserve a space where you can focus on yourself and your needs, and feel seen, understood, and unconditionally supported. My clients tell me that they feel safe and trust that I understand where they are coming from. They can see that I believe in their ability to achieve their goals, even if they are not quite sure yet themselves!
In addition to being treated with kindness and respect, my clients also get the benefit of the specialties that I have developed over the years. The areas that I have great interest in and have acquired extra training and practice in are as follows:
Anxiety is awful. If you are reading this, you probably are all too familiar with the terrible feelings that anxiety brings – pounding heart, shortness of breath, feeling spaced out or lightheaded, stammering or having trouble communicating, tight muscles, upset stomach, headaches and so many more.
What is trauma? A basic definition trauma is when negative experiences from the past have cause distress and impair functioning in the present. This can show up in both acute PTSD reactions to a triggering event or in more subtle manifestations such as social withdrawal, under functioning and work or personal life, or even in chronic health problems.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy)
EMDR Therapy, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, is a kind of therapy that was first developed in 1987 as a treatment for the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. EMDR is one of the most highly researched therapeutic modalities and its effectiveness is widely acknowledged. In the years since its creation, EMDR has developed and branched out from the treatment of single-episode traumas (such a car accident or assault) to a set of protocols for many different problems including addiction, depression, eating disorders, chronic illness, and pain, grief, and loss, OCD and many other conditions. EMDR can also be effective for the treatment of chronic post-traumatic stress (c-ptsd) from sustained abuse or neglect.
I have been practicing EMDR for several years now and continue to be delighted at the effectiveness and efficiency of this therapy. It’s very rewarding to see people getting better, reducing their suffering, and moving on with their healing and their lives. EMDR can also be used in an intensive format, meaning breaking out of the usual 60-minute therapy hour to conduct EMDR in an extended time frame. More healing gets done faster this way, and for those who have don’t want to be in weekly therapy, can’t fit in a weekly visit due to their schedule, or simply want to get to feeling better faster, an EMDR intensive may be a good option.
Anxiety can interfere with our sleep, make us avoid important things, impact our relationships, make us turn to counterproductive behaviors to cope, and negatively affect our health.
Essentially, anxiety is misplaced fear. Fearful responses in our brains are there to protect us from things that are dangerous. While there are certainly things in the world to feel worried about or scared of, anxiety generally "gets it wrong" and ends up hurting instead of helping us.
A classic example is being so anxious about a situation coming up that you make yourself sick worrying about it and end up doing poorly on whatever the task was, and then worry about what that means and how you’re definitely going to screw it up next time too! Anxiety becomes a habit.
If anxiety is bringing you to seek help, the good news is that anxiety is very treatable. Chronic worry and intrusive thoughts, phobias, panic symptoms and panic attacks, social anxiety, and overall nervousness are all things that can be improved in therapy.
How I Treat Anxiety:
I use a combination of strategies to understand your struggle with anxiety, collaborate with you on reducing the symptoms, and help you develop new ways of coping with the things that cause your suffering.
Both cognitive and body-based techniques are helpful in treating anxiety and making some adjustments to your behavior and environment can be essential as well. While teaching your body and brain to calm down, we can also learn about new ways of thinking that prevent excess worry and chronic over-arousal of your nervous system.
Chronic trauma, also called C-PTSD or developmental trauma, is not so obvious. It can be caused by experiences such as neglect or emotional, physical, and sexual abuse early in life. It can also be caused by things such as:
- Being bullied in school or by siblings
- Moving a lot as a kid
- Living in a chaotic family situation, perhaps due to mental illness or substance abuse in a parent
- Being raised in a high-demand religious group
- Sexual harassment or inappropriate exposure to sexuality
- Extreme high expectations from parents about academic or other performance
- Negative response related to your sexual or gender identity or appearance
- Being a highly sensitive kid when that was not understood or supported
- An abusive intimate relationship
C-PTSD has devastating impacts in the current day. Problems with relationships, chronic anxiety, and worry, feeling ashamed for no reason, having a lack of self-confidence or even hating yourself, staying in jobs or relationships that don’t work for you but feeling afraid to leave, people-pleasing, not taking care of your own needs, using substances or food to handle your feelings – these can all be an indication that trauma is holding you back.
How I Treat Trauma:
Recovery from trauma is possible. Trauma work is not easy, but the relief from the current day impact of trauma is worth the effort. If you may have found that traditional talk therapy has not helped you as much as you hoped, trauma-focused therapy may be what you need to feel better.
EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories in an adaptive way. The experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze response from the original event is deactivated. EMDR addresses traumatic experiences in a past, present, and future frame, so that not only is the memory resolved but we make plans for being able to respond to events in the future in a way that avoids a traumatic response.
EMDR Therapy follows a particular protocol that has been proven to be helpful. That said, it is not a stand-alone, by-the-numbers therapy. It takes place in the context of a good relationship between the therapist and client, which takes into account the many factors that make up the client’s experience and carefully prepares strategies to safely address traumatic memories. It can be done in the course of therapy with me, but I also will provide EMDR short-term for someone in therapy with another clinician, but who wants to do some specialized trauma work.
The 60-minute therapy hour is the norm in psychotherapy practice, due in large part to the fact that insurance companies pay for certain billing codes associated with a 30, 45 or 60 minute session. However, 60 minutes may not be the optimal time frame for a particular client with a particular therapeutic goal.
Why do an intensive?
- A client is not able or interested in committing to a weekly therapy visit, either because of work or caregiving schedules, or because they have a very specific target to deal with and don’t need weekly therapy.
- They have a target memory that is difficult to delve into and find it appealing to clear a target in one sitting, instead of having to wrap up and re-open the memory over several sessions.
- The disturbance caused by the traumatic target is causing serious disruption in daily life and they need to accelerate healing to function optimally.
What does an EMDR intensive with you look like in practice?
- EMDR intensives are conducted in my office in Towson, MD, either weekday or weekend.
- They are done in either extended session – 3 hours – or full day sessions. Full days are 9-4:30 with an hour for lunch and as many breaks as needed. They can be single days or multiple days, depending on the client needs. Intensives are customized to the client.
- Before meeting for the actual reprocessing part of the therapy, we meet for an initial 60 to 90 minute session to fully assess the situation and make sure the client is well-prepared for work.
- Every effort is put into making sure the client is comfortable and safe during the intensive.
Are EMDR intensives good for everyone?
- Not everyone or every problem is a good fit for this model. Anyone interested in intensive work is carefully screened to make sure that an intensive is appropriate for the person. Please contact me for further clarification.
What is the cost? Is it covered by insurance?
- EMDR intensives are not covered by insurance and therefore not covered by Out of Network benefits either. The rules vary from one plan to another, but it is safe to assume that you will be unlikely to get reimbursement. If the client is motivated to contact their insurance company to find out the particulars or what may be reimbursable, I am happy to provide superbills.
- EMDR intensives are currently billed hourly. My hourly rate is $185. The client is only billed for the hours that are used, but I do require a down-payment to reserve a block of time.
Please reach out with any questions about EMDR intensives! I am happy to explain more over the phone or in a Zoom meeting.
Ready to Chat?
The most effective therapy is a collaborative journey based on a relationship that is warm and respectful. Finding the right therapist can be hard, but it is SO worth the effort. Book a chat with me to connect on a free 15-minute phone consultation to see if I may be a good fit for your journey.