Humans, like animals, are biologically designed
to move through difficult experiences and to recover. When we get overwhelmed or when our environments are highly stressful, however, our natural and innate healing processes can get disrupted. This might show up as recurring pain in one person, as PTSD in another, and as fatigue in a third. It is as if our bodies get stuck in a "survival mode", caught in patterns of hibernation or high vigilance. The good news is that, when sufficient safety and resources become available, our bodies are capable of recovery and renewed resiliency.
Individuals with chronic illness and unusual physical symptoms
have experienced traumatic events and stressors in early life with surprising frequency. Chronic symptoms tend to vary moment to moment or day to day, and change according to stressors that are unique to each individual. The same thing happens with symptoms in PTSD, which reflects a "nervous system issue", rather than a "tissue issue". From this perspective, chronic illnesses and unusual physical symptoms may be driven by altered patterns of nervous system regulation, just as they are in PTSD.
My work as a psychotherapist is informed by
my background as a family physician and assistant professor of medicine; published research linking trauma and early bonding disruptions in the origins of chronic illness and patterns of symptom variability; an MA in Somatic Psychology; and body based trauma therapies such as Somatic Experiencing ("SE") and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (more
I work with adults with chronic illness
such as fibromyalgia, lupus, diabetes, chronic fatigue, Parkinson's..., as well as with individuals who have unusual symptoms
, incuding pain, numbness, fatigue...
I specialize in physical symptoms that may:
- fit no clear diagnosis despite extensive workup
- come and go in seemingly unpredictable ways
- have been unresponsive to treatment
- have no known effective treatment
- be poorly understood from a medical perspective
- began following, or be influenced by, stressful or traumatic events
- ... more
The type of work
we do together involves recognizing and following the "footprints" held by the body, which mark the places where we may have gotten hurt or stuck. These footprints, which are experienced as sensations, images, thoughts and emotions, can show us how to move through these places to the inherent sense of safety, joy, and calm that lie beneath. This underlying sense of health exists in all of us, and we can begin to access this state, which can enable us to lead more satisfying lives alongside whatever symptoms we may have.
More about this approach
Conference of Interest Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health
Pacific Grove, California: Nov 14-17, 2013
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