Who I Am and How I Work as a Therapist
Joy can break through even on the worst of days and I can dance in my kitchen. That is your gift to me. … EMDR is such amazing work. In an hour I could get rid of something that weighs so heavily. What you do heals the body. Talk therapy can’t do that. … In my many years of talk therapy, life bled into therapy. Now therapy bleeds into my life. It’s miraculous what you’ve done for me.
PS Western Mass
I am a clinical social worker in full-time private practice at my home office. I currently work with individuals — children nine years of age and older, adolescents, college students and adults. While I specialize in the treatment of trauma and dissociation, people come to me with a variety of presenting issues. A graduate of Columbia University School of Social Work in 1969, I have worked as a school social worker, medical social worker and community organizer prior to entering clinical social work full time in 1994.
In my clinical work I have often felt like one of the luckiest people in the world, for I have the extraordinary privilege of participating in the life changing healing of the people with whom I work. In the section, “What clients have said,” you can read some of their thoughts and experiences as well.
I bring passion, a gentle determination, and a rich respect for my clients to the work and combine these with both a depth and range of experience, as well as expertise in several approaches to psychotherapy. (In the following paragraphs I describe these approaches and how they help my clients heal.) I have a strong commitment to work collaboratively with my clients, and try always to be attentive to the power differential between the person seeking help and the helper. At times my voice breaks and I am moved to tears by the many small miracles of change I witness and of which I am a part. Sometimes my tears are in attunement with the powerful emotions being experienced by my client. Sometimes they help the client to step outside her or himself so the person is able to notice the profound moment that has just happened. My responses are rooted in my profound respect.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy
I am on the National Faculty of the EMDR Institute that has trained more than 40,000 therapists. I am an EMDRIA Approved Consultant and offer both group and individual consultation to clinicians deepening their skills in using EMDR. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy is the most scientifically validated and efficient treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and it has proven invaluable in the treatment of many other conditions. I use EMDR every day in my work with people affected by trauma, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, relationship issues, dissociation, etc. EMDR is powerfully effective in addressing “Big T” life threatening traumas and physical and sexual abuse. It is also very helpful with “small t” traumas of experiencing emotional or physical neglect, teasing or having a learning disability, and other experiences that lead to chronic beliefs such as “I am not good enough”, “I am unlovable,” “I am not safe and cannot protect myself,” or “I can’t get my needs met”, etc. I began training in EMDR in 1999.
Guided imagery work forms an integral part of my use of EMDR with clients. In the preparation phase to EMDR processing of painful memories I typically help clients develop a “Container” that is big enough and strong enough to hold every disturbing thought feeling or sensation, a “Calm or Safe Place”, and a “Grounding” image. I may also help people create a “Healing Circle” of their most mature qualities and then use it as a place to meet the needs of child parts of self that many refer to as their “inner children.” Often clients learn to use these powerful tools in their daily lives to achieve greater stability and control over their emotions and the impact of powerful memories. There are many other ways that I use guided imagery to make processing of traumatic experiences possible when they feel overwhelming.
Click here to learn more about EMDR therapy.
Ego State Therapy
I understand that each of us has many facets to our personality, and often have conflicting needs and desires. We use different parts of ourselves, and different pathways in our brain, as workers/professionals, students, adult children of our parents, parents of our own children, partners, musicians, athletes, gardeners, etc. This differentiation is often normal and healthy. But traumatic events (such as abuse and violence) or chronic situations (such as a parent’s mental or physical illness or addiction when we were children), can lead to increasingly cut off parts of oneself. People often come to therapy because of chronic conflicts in intimate relationships or work settings, or an inability to move forward in life because of problems rooted in childhood experiences such as these.
Ego State Therapy is a powerful method of working with our parts across the dissociative spectrum, from common internal conflicts that many of us have through complete dissociation (Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly called Multiple Personality Disorder). I integrate Ego State Therapy into my treatment of most of my clients. Many clients find this exploration fascinating and very useful. Together we are able to resolve chronic conflictual patterns in their lives. Ego State Therapy is an essential part of the treatment of more severely traumatized persons. I teach an Advanced Seminar on the Integration of Ego State Therapy with EMDR to therapists trained in EMDR. The Seminar has transformed the clinical abilities of the participants to work with their clients, especially those with severe trauma histories. I began training in Ego State Therapy in 2001 and began teaching it in 2008
Developed 30 years ago in Australia by Michael White and in New Zealand by David Epston, Narrative Therapy guides me in powerful and wonderful ways. It helps me to be attuned to the “sparkling moments” (like the small miracles I mentioned above) that tell a different story about the person than the one that has brought him or her to therapy. It invites me to “people” my conversations with clients with others who have known the client: relatives or friends or teachers who would not be surprised that my client was ready to change, that my client had stood up for him or herself. Narrative Therapy helps us to externalize the problems that have invaded our lives, rather than centering those problems within the person. It attunes me to the power differential that always exists in my office and invites me to collaborate at the deepest possible level. I began training in Narrative Therapy in 1995.
Energy Psychology is based on Chinese medicine and the understanding of chi, or energy, that flows through the body along meridians. I began training in Thought Field Therapy or TFT, one of the best-known Energy Psychologies, in 1998. I teach very powerful grounding and centering Energy Psychology exercises to everyone I work with, and many of my clients choose to use them regularly in their daily lives. I physically demonstrate the shift in energy that many readily feel and that makes it more “real.” I teach people to use the basic pressure point treatment technique. This has helped many clients to be able to shift out of a depressed or anxious mood much more quickly. With gentle pressure on specific meridian points, part of Thought Field Therapy’s approach, we can bring about a remarkable shift in mood and perspective. When a client comes in feeling really overwhelmed by, or stuck in, an emotion on a given day, perhaps after a big argument, Thought Field Therapy is often the most effective way of working.
Clinical Hypnosis is the last of the five psychotherapy approaches that I use. I first trained in it in 2008 and have primarily used it with issues related to writing – theses, papers, and homework. I have found it to be less efficient than EMDR for the treatment of trauma.
I am affiliated with many private insurance companies: Aetna, Anthem (Connecticut BC/BS), all Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans including out of state, Chickering, Comprehensive Benefits Administrator (CBA), Consolidated Health Plan, First Health (Coventry), Harvard Pilgrim, Health Care Value Management (HCVM), Health Management Center (HMC), Magellan/MBC, Medicare, Medicare with Medicaid cross over for people with SSI or SSD, Oxford, PacifiCare, Pioneer, Private Healthcare Systems, Tufts, UMass insurance, United Behavioral Health, United Health Care, Value Options. I can often bill out of state private insurance plans.
I cannot take public insurances (Mass Health, Medicaid, Beacon/Fallon, Boston Medical Center Health Net, etc.) I am able to serve clients on SSI and SSD who have both Medicare and Medicaid. And of course I accept private payment.
To Contact Me
Call my office at 1-413-256-3637 to speak with me about the possibility of working together. Please clearly state your name, phone number(s), and your insurance if you will be using it and if I accept it. If you are planning to pay out of pocket, please indicate that as well. If I am unable to work with you – and my practice is often full – I will refer you to our Western Massachusetts EMDR Network website which has an interactive Directory. You can access it directly at www.wmassemdria.com. This website also provides links to national websites that provide more information about EMDR and how it works.