It's like a mother, when the baby is crying, she picks up the baby and she holds the baby tenderly in her arms. Your pain, your anxiety is your baby. You have to take care of it. You have to go back to yourself, to recognize the suffering in you, embrace the suffering, and you get a relief.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
All any feeling wants is to be welcomed with tenderness. It wants room to unfold. It wants to relax and tell its story. It wants to dissolve like a thousand writhing snakes that with a flick of kindness become harmless strands of rope.
As traumatized children we always dreamed that someone would come and save us. We never dreamed that it would, in fact, be ourselves, as adults.
(Webcam view, 2021)
Philosophy and Approach
I view growth as an internalized sense of wholeness found through the integration of conflicting parts. Providing for the needs of each separate part often relaxes long held defenses, releasing our own natural ability to choose our place in this life. Attention to relationship and attachment allows space to safely question perceptions and test assumptions, gradually finding points of comfortable connection with self, others, and the universe -- in whatever way feels most natural to you. In this journey, counseling serves to reveal and embolden your most natural, authentic self in relationship to the rest of humanity.
I employ a patient and accepting mindful-holistic approach to 'make visible' the patterns in your body and your life. Everything that makes you YOU is a natural adaptation to your experience in your body throughout this lifetime. And the parts that lived through the most challenging experience -- often parts we've discarded -- still want a witness. They want acceptance and validation. They want to be known and integrated.
In this awareness-based therapy, some of the changes that typically become possible include increased self-acceptance, a greater sense of freedom and control in relationships and life, and the reintegration of aspects of self that have 'shut down' in response to negative experience. This approach often aids in regulation of the nervous system -- decreasing both anxiety and depression while stripping away personal identification with past pain and wounding. Using this method, you and I work collaboratively to awaken your sense of identity and purpose. In exploring your unique organization of experience, we often find opportunities to deliver corrective experience, directly influencing the core beliefs, meanings, and strategies that compete to run your life.
To learn more about my philosophy and approach, visit my recent articles.
The paradox is that the more one tries to be who one is not,
the more one stays the same.
~Gestalt's Paradoxical Theory of Change
My training and specialization revolve around complex trauma from childhood abuse/neglect, specifically early life interpersonal disconnections that result in later life relationship challenges, social shame, ongoing expectation of oppression and/or abandonment, and often a state of 'freeze' or 'stuckness' in body and in life. I work with you to recognize and feel internal resources and strategies, finding effective ways to meet your legitimate human needs while navigating a complex variety of internal and external systems.
Education and Training
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Institute Portland 9/2015-1/2016)
Hakomi Method of Body-Centered Psychotherapy (M.E.T.A. Portland 2012-2013)
A Unified Approach to Trauma Work (M.E.T.A. Portland 2012 / Manuela Mischke-Reeds)
Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology: Community Counseling (Lewis & Clark College 2009-2012)
Bachelor of Science in Psychology (Portland State University 2006-2009)
Bachelor of Science in Social Science (Portland State University 2006-2009)
What we are about to undertake is an expedition together, a journey of discovery into the most secret recesses of our consciousness. And for such an adventure, we must travel light. We cannot burden ourselves with opinions, prejudices, conclusions — that is, with all the baggage that we have collected over the past two thousand years or more. Forget everything you know about yourself. Forget everything that you have thought about yourself. We are going to set off as if we know nothing.
~Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known
The more our world threatens to change the self, the more energy we use to stabilize it. But it is changeable. All of our strongly held beliefs were once new ideas and doubtable. All our tired old habits were once just things we were trying out, playing with, even those that seem unbreakable now. The self was once fresh and flexible. Within us there is still that possibility of re-creation. Deep within, the maker of the self remains. The child map-maker is still a part of us. His blueprints are there. They can be reexamined. It is by increasing sensitivity that we reach the map, the map maker and the possibility of change. By accessing the core, we find not just the created self but the power that creates it.
~ Ron Kurtz, Body-Centered Psychotherapy, p. 167
Theory of Change
In focusing my career on those therapies that bring a felt and lasting change, I have been drawn to 'transformative' approaches in connection with trauma theories. These are approaches that directly change the way we treat ourselves and therefore the way it feels to live in our skin and be the person that we are. In practical terms, we study together the ways that your mind organizes and adapts around traumatic memory.
My theory of change focuses on internal 'integration through differentiation'. This is a natural cycle of pulling apart, identifying and defining individual parts, and bringing those defined parts back together into a cohesive whole. One assumption here is that external relationship patterns echo internal relationship patterns. The way we relate to ourselves directly affects our relationship with others. It is our ability to love and be loved, and it is often entangled by conflicting beliefs about self - by the many ways we contain parts of self in the wake of trauma.
This model is informed by Hakomi Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Existential Therapy, Internal Family Systems, Narrative Therapy, Interpersonal Neurobiology, and Adaptive Information Processing. Techniques used -- often involving bodywork and mindfulness -- commonly bring awareness and acceptance at a core level, decrease long-held defenses, and develop an ability to 'take in' missing experience: that which we simultaneously 'yearn for' and push away. ("I want to be loved while convincing others I am unworthy," "I want to be taken care of and instead present as self-sufficient and without need, taking care of others while not letting them take care of me," etc.)
“The inability to get something out of your head is a signal that shouts, 'Don’t forget to deal with this!' As long as you experience fear or pain with a memory or flashback, there is a lie attached that needs to be confronted. In each healing step, there is a truth to be gathered and a lie to discard.”
~ Christina Enevoldsen
"All any feeling wants is to be welcomed with tenderness. It wants room to unfold. It wants to relax and tell its story. It wants to dissolve like a thousand writhing snakes that with a flick of kindness become harmless strands of rope."
About Hakomi Therapy
"Hakomi" is a Hopi Indian word meaning, "How do you stand in relation to these many realms?" This was their ancient way of saying "Who are you?" and is an appropriate description for this therapeutic process, a process in which therapist and client explore the complex web of relationships which form our personal identities.
Hakomi Therapy represents a new stage in integrative psychotherapy and is considered one of the few directly 'transformative' therapies. Originating in the seventies through collaborative work of Ron Kurtz and others, Hakomi incorporates a wide range of techniques into an elegant and comprehensive model of internal communication and change. Building from Gestalt Therapy, Gendlin's Focusing, and Buddhism, Hakomi infuses human connection into mindfulness, instilling a present, grounded structure of attachment to Self and Others. Stages include: building trust, tolerance for proprioception/interoception (internal sensation), mindfulness, development of observer-self, accessing child-states, corrective experience, and integration. Stage work varies widely from one person to the next, and the overall practice includes modeling ways to be with what is. In other words, we're learning how to 'be' with our many selves as a gentle witness that provides nurturance at physical and emotional levels. In simplest terms, this is the regulatory self care that parents could not teach us because their parents did not teach them.
Hakomi presents a gentle framework and a mindful-somatic process to unearth, meet, and release long-held beliefs/patterns. This, working easily in tandem with theories of multiplicity and attachment, provides and gradually instills a full-experience witness to reduce the unnecessary suffering of fighting against our own internalized rules and childhood structures.
“Therapy isn’t conversation … The rules of polite conversation are designed to expedite the flow of information between people, not within people…. The process of studying internal states and reactions requires something very different from conversation.”
~ Ron Kurtz (Hakomi founder)
Hakomi therapy, through gentle, non-violent collaborative/guided/dyadic mindfulness, provides present, conscious access to the subconscious and to the vital core beliefs held there.
Potential (and expected) outcomes include...
Mapping Internal Experience
Corrective Experience (memory reconsolidation)
Changing Core Beliefs, Taking in the Good
Integrating Parts of Self
Development of internal 'Observer' - able to notice without judgment, allow 'what is'
“…To re-expose the patient, under more favorable circumstances, to emotional situations which he could not handle in the past. The patient, in order to be helped, must undergo a corrective emotional experience suitable to repair the traumatic influence of previous experiences…. Intellectual insight alone is not sufficient.”
~ Franz Alexander, one of the founders of psychosomatic medicine
The Principles of Hakomi:
Mindfulness: a relaxed, present, alert, non-judgmental, observing state through which internal organization may be studied
Integration: differentiation and connection of previously conflicting parts (self-other, body-mind, desire/inhibition, inner child/developed self— any of countless parts identified in the present moment when confusion or struggle arises)
Unity: views life as a self-organizing, interdependent system containing and contained-within self-organizing, interdependent systems
Organicity: assumes that every system is self-directing and self-organizing, and that every part we have developed has honored the preserving of ‘self’ within a particular system
Truth: capacity to know, to name, to sit with ‘what actually is’
Change: the trust that change is constant and the futile attempt to contain it prolongs suffering
Quotes by the founder of Hakomi Therapy, Ron Kurtz...
“This method can be part of any method of psychotherapy. But it is much more than that. It is basic to all human relations. It is a natural part of the universal human endeavor to understand ourselves, to free ourselves of the inevitable suffering that follows simply from ignorance of who we truly are. It is the path taken by all who work to go beyond the half remembered hurts and failed beliefs that linger in the unexamined mind and body, hurts that act through barely conscious habits and reactions.”
“In Hakomi, we focus on bodily experiences, like sensations, emotions, tensions and movements. This focus on experience, rather than abstract notions, leads to more grounded insights and understanding. We discover the roots of psychological organization and we find meaning by working with here and now experiences. The body is alive with meaning and memory. We focus on experience, not for its own sake, but to learn from them, how we came to be who we are, and how we shall move on.”
"If you can observe your own experience with a minimum of interference, and if you don’t try to control what you experience, if you simply allow things to happen and you observe them, then you will be able to discover things about yourself that you did not know before. You can discover little pieces of the inner structures of your mind, the very things that make you who you are.”
"So, we look at people as self-organizing systems, organized psychologically around core memories, beliefs and images. This core material is at the very heart of what we have made of our lives. It creates and maintains our images of self and of our culturally acquired world. It directs our perceptions and actions. Core material expresses itself through all the habits and attitudes which make us individuals. Our feelings, actions and perceptions are continuously influenced by core material around major themes: safety and belonging; support, love and appreciation; freedom and responsibility; openness and honesty; control, power, sexuality, membership, and the social and cultural rules."
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing - an approach empirically validated by numerous studies - was developed and founded by Francine Shapiro around 1990 as a safe and effective means of reincorporating traumatized parts of self into a more adaptive whole. It is now considered a first-line treatment for PTSD and has been adopted by both private and government organizations, including the Veterans Administration, as a relatively short-term approach to trauma recovery. [Click here to open the official EMDR website in a separate window.]
EMDR represents a new stage in integrative approaches and is considered one of the few directly 'transformative' therapies. Building on the Adaptive Information Processing model, it is designed to connect fear structures (or trauma states) to more adaptive parts of self. In essence, it is a recognition, while accessing fear, that resources are present, that you are indeed 'okay'.
EMDR is not talk therapy. For the most part, it represents an internal process. Many that have experienced EMDR appreciate the fact that they do not have to talk about the trauma. The healing here, like every truly 'transformative' approach, relies on recognition of internal resources, on the realization that so many parts of you have been taking care of you all along.
I call this process the alchemy of the dark emotions: knowing how to stay connected to the energy of painful emotions, to attend to and befriend it, to surrender to it, mindfully, without being overwhelmed. This is how we listen to the language of the heart.”
~ Miriam Greenspan, Healing Through the Dark Emotions
EMDR, through self-driven, structured access to old memory states, provides present, conscious access to the subconscious and to the vital core beliefs held there.
Potential (and expected) outcomes include...
Elements of EMDR
Dual Awareness: focus on past memories and present neutral stimuli
Permission to Allow and Follow Internal Processing: 'Go with that.'
Safety: consent and control over the process, preparation stages, recognition of present resources
Structure: EMDR presents a very defined container.
Objective Measures: The flow of EMDR is controlled by the ongoing ratings of the person experiencing EMDR.
Bipasses the Entanglement of Working Memory: One part of the brain stays occupied, freeing the individual to process long-term memory.
Focus on the Full Experience: Body, Thoughts, Emotions