As an integrative psychotherapist, I pull from different evidence-based therapies, trauma informed care, and recent developments in neuroscience to find the fundamental approach and specific modalities that are the best fit for you. This might mean integrating relational work or EMDR to heal trauma, ACT behavioural strategies to manage depression, or internal family systems (IFS) work to create space to process anxious beliefs about self and the world. I bring my expertise in these areas, while following your expertise on what works best for you.
what is ACT?
ACT is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a descendent of CBT. While CBT often involves examining the evidence for our thoughts, and challenging “incorrect” thoughts, ACT focuses on how we can evaluate whether thoughts are helpful or not, and how we can redirect our attention away from unhelpful thoughts. This means that no behaviour is judged as “good” or “bad”; we are only interested in whether a behaviour is helping us to connect to our best selves.
ACT integrates aspects of mindfulness, self-compassion, values exploration, acceptance of difficult situations and emotions, and committed action.
Mindfulness, developing awareness of our inner monologue, attuning to our emotions, and bringing understanding and self-compassion to our experience are some of the ways that ACT helps us to "unhook" from the thoughts and feelings that move us away from the life we want. The goals of ACT could be summarized as: “Be open, be present, and do what matters.”
what is IFS?
IFS, or Internal Family Systems, therapy is based on a concept of "multiplicity," or the understanding that we rarely feel just one way about something. We often conflicting feelings that can leave us feeling stuck or confused. IFS allows us to describe the complexity and nuances of human experience - e.g., A part of me loves you deeply, and I have a part that is afraid to be vulnerable with you.
IFS is a non-pathologizing approach that allows us to see our parts, even the unhelpful ones, with understanding and compassion. Many parts are working overtime to protect us from experiencing vulnerability, or other difficult feelings. Many of our parts bring positive qualities, but some can be rigid, extreme, or destructive in their attempts to protect us.
All Parts Are Welcome
Just as there are no bad kids, there are no bad parts -- all of our parts are trying to help us in some way. Transformation is not intended to “get rid of” extreme or unhelpful parts, but to help them transition to healthier roles within the internal family.
what is EMDR?
EMDR is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy.
According to the APA, EMDR is an evidence-based treatment for trauma, however it is widely used for a variety of other issues. EMDR is a "brain-based" therapy that helps our minds to integrate experiences that felt overwhelming in the moment. It is often helpful for those experiences when you rationally "know" that something is not true, but you can't get rid of the "gut feeling" that it is -- in these cases, "bottom up" processing can be more helpful than "top down," cognitive approaches.
We don't just dive straight into trauma reprocessing, and the initial phase of EMDR therapy includes developing mindfulness and emotion regulation skills. This helps us when we return to those trauma memories, giving us the ability to maintain "dual awareness" -- the knowledge that we are present in this moment, just visiting, but safe from, the traumatic event.
While no therapy is appropriate or helpful for everyone, people who find EMDR to be a good fit report that it can be life-changing (and sometimes, "weird and cool!"). If you'd like to know more about EMDR, you can check out Francine Shapiro's (the innovator of EMDR therapy) book, Getting Past Your Past, or set up a consultation to discuss wether EMDR, or another approach, would be appropriate for your situation.