Living with anxiety can feel like the “on” switch in our brain is stuck. The stress response has evolved as a survival mechanism to mobilize us in the face of danger (the sabertooth kind, not the traffic kind). Adrenaline and cortisol surge, the heart pounds, muscles tense and breath quickens. This evolutionary design was adapted to help our ancestors swiftly react to a physical threat and then laugh off their brush with death. It was not intended to keep them up all night stewing over how it could have played out differently.
Modern-day stressors are like an emergency with no end in sight. Pandemic fatigue, racial injustice, climate change and gun violence will exert a huge toll on human health. The link between social media and increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness and suicide is undisputed. As our body is unable to discern between a real or perceived threat, we are in a chronic state of hypervigilance long after the tiger has slipped away.
Your anxiety has a powerful message for you, and therapy can help to interpret it. Using elements of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), I can help you make room for anxiety in a way that allows you to slowly let go of your struggle with it. Paired with mindfulness-based techniques, the goal of ACT is to help you accept what is out of your control and commit to actions that enrich your life.
Plants and people have evolved together. We are inextricably linked. The Lascaux cave paintings in France depict herbs dating back to 25,000 B.C. Long recognized for their therapeutic properties, botanical remedies are widely embraced to promote health and wellbeing.
Where a plant comes from and how it is grown has an effect on its character. I source organic and ethically-grown herbs to ensure the highest-quality formulations. I am passionate about the mind-body connection and view herbal remedies as a natural complement to psychotherapy, mindfulness and creative expression.
For those who may be new to the healing properties of plants, the PDR for Herbal Medicine is a frequently-cited, reputable source of information. I look forward to collaborating with you on your journey to wellness.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
TRAUMA / PTSD
A single traumatic event can impact our ability to cope and function. Flashbacks and nightmares can follow an unexpected loss, a natural disaster or accident. Dan Siegel, MD, a UCLA psychiatrist, has devoted his career to understanding ways in which the brain is altered by experience, specifically trauma. According to Dr. Siegel, exposure to an acute traumatic event causes our brain to "flip our lid" with the frontal cortex (complex thought) going "offline." This is a protective mechanism that allows the brain to react with incredible speed, leaving thinking out of the equation. Following extinction of the threat, the cortex ideally comes back online to process the experience. When this process of integration is interrupted, we develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Complex traumatic events are repetitive, prolonged, cumulative and most often interpersonal. They involve direct harm or neglect and occur at developmentally vulnerable times such as childhood or adolescence. For those living with complex trauma, the fight/flight/freeze state remains activated as a coping mechanism to stay safe in the face of ongoing adversity. Trauma literally becomes trapped in the body, and the brain rewires itself. These lasting effects create symptoms of emotional dysregulation, hyperarousal, difficulty with interpersonal relationships and dissociation.
I offer evidence-based treatments for those with unprocessed trauma who are struggling to find meaning or purpose in life. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative approach using a technique called bilateral stimulation to repeatedly activate opposite sides of the brain. EMDR helps the brain reprocess the trapped memories so that natural healing can occur.
Are you someone who gives to others at the detriment of getting your own needs met? Maybe you have difficulty expressing your emotions and opinions with others. Relationships can be complicated. We each bring our histories, expectations and wounds. We hold subconscious models of what intimacy and conflict should look like. We have different attachment styles, communication skills and love languages. We may also come from a family of origin that hardwires us for dysfunctional patterns in adulthood.
"Living a life in harmony with people around you, the natural world and yourself, apparently makes for a long and mentally healthy life," affirmed Dan Buettner of The Blue Zones. Relationships insulate, nourish and support us. They give our lives meaning. They are also an art—a skillset to be learned that can deepen emotional intimacy, improve friendship and create change. I will help you learn to foster healthy, meaningful connections that will support the creation of your best life.