EDMR

Adoption and Loss

Family Mediation

Illness / Accidents and Health Care Issues

Birth Related Trauma / Infertility / Miscarriage / Infant death and Complications

Spiritual Pain / Bereavement

Children's Mental Health


Addictions and Recovery

Costs and Insurance

 

EMDR

EMDR therapy can address your PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE challenges. Whether it is dealing with past negative experiences, current triggers that cause automatic responses or performance enhancement EMDR is a promising practice in psychotherapy for trauma, anxiety and stress in your life.

What is EMDR? Eye Movement and Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment method that is effective for resolving emotional difficulties caused by disturbing, difficult, or frightening life experiences. When children or adults are traumatized, have upsetting experiences, or repeated failures, they lose a sense of control over their lives. This can result in symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability, anger, guilt, and/or behavioral problems. We know that events such as accidents, abuse, violence, death, and natural disasters are traumatic but we do not always recognize the ways they affect and influence children or adults’ every day lives. Even common upsetting childhood events such as divorce, school problems, social difficulties, failures, and family problems can deeply affect a child or adult’s sense of security, self-esteem, and functioning.

When an upsetting, scary or painful experience happens, sometimes the memory of the experience stays “stuck” or “frozen” in the mind and body. The experience may return in a distressing and intrusive way. The child or adult may cope by avoiding everything associated with the upsetting experience or anything that triggers that reaction or emotional experience. For example, when a child has experienced a bad bicycle accident, there may be repeated nightmares, fears of trying new things, and avoidance of things associated with a bike.

Most experts agree that the best way to get “unstuck” and free from such symptoms is through exposure to the traumatic experience. This means facing the memories or troubling events until they are no longer disturbing.

EMDR uses dual attention stimulation (DAS) which refers to the use of alternating, right/left tracking that may take the form of eye movements, tones or music delivered to each ear, or tactile stimulation, such as alternating hand taps. Creative alternatives for dual stimulation have been developed for children by using buzzies, audio devices or drumming.

EMDR helps resolve troubling thoughts and feelings related to distressing memories so that children or adults can return to their normal developmental tasks and prior levels of coping. In addition, EMDR can help strengthen feelings of confidence, calmness and mastery.

What Does an EMDR Session Look Like? EMDR is part of an integrated treatment approach and is often used together with other therapy practices such as talk therapy, behavioral, narrative and cognitive therapies. Children benefit from EMDR which is adaptive with play and art therapies. EMDR will be explained and used when agreed upon by the client or parent and child.

A typical EMDR treatment session begins with assessment and evaluation of a person’s ability to handle the procedure and then development of positive skills to strengthen a sense of confidence and well-being. For example, clients may be asked to imagine a safe or protected place where they feel relaxed or to remember a time when they felt strong and confident. These positive images, thoughts and feelings, are then combined with eye movements or other forms of dual attention stimulation. These beginning experiences with EMDR typically give clients increased positive feelings and help clients know what to expect from the process.

Next the client is asked to bring up an upsetting memory or event that is related to the presenting problem. Dual attention stimulation is used again while the client focuses on the disturbing experience. When an upsetting memory is “desensitized” a client can face past events and no longer feel disturbed, frightened, or avoidant. “Reprocessing” simply means that new understandings, sensations, and feelings can be paired up with the old disturbing thoughts, feelings and images. The troubling memories can be more comfortably recalled as “just something that happened”, “it’s over”, “I’m safe now”, “I did the best I could, it‘s not my fault”, “I have other choices now”.

Children’s Mental Health and EMDR

Children can benefit from EMDR by allowing them to address their mixed up feelings and negative beliefs about themselves or negative events in their past. The Adaptive Information Processing Model in EMDR believes in the inherent ability of our body to heal from these experiences. Children often improve quickly with this therapy. I have graduated more children with EMDR than with traditional therapies.

Whether it’s recovery from a big trauma like an auto accident, illness, assault, childhood abuse, death of a relative, grieving a parent going to war or something less obvious, EMDR can help anxiety and stress.

Children demonstrate mood disorders differently than adults. Often you see irritability, impulsivity, attention; and change of patterns in eating or sleep or activity levels. Kids often don’t know how to express in words what they are feeling or able to identify which stressors are impacting their functioning. Changes in schools, marriage or divorce, transitions to college, death of a pet or family member can cause a child or teen significant stress.


ADOPTION and LOSS

I understand adoption personally and professionally. I am an adoptee and have worked through my personal questions and sought out and reunited with my birth parents. I have facilitated over 350 open adoption plans between birth and adoptive families and I specialize in working with children impacted by foster care and adoption. Even with a positive change like adoption these issues tend to re-appear at different developmental stages or with new stressors.

Whether the adoption occurred at infancy or was an international or special needs adoption, children or adults share many core relationship challenges.

Adoption is not often the trauma; it is the loss of the first family or grief for the previous attachment which continue to impact a person’s functioning or negative beliefs about him or herself. Adoption often requires more than positive thinking and the love of a new family; it often requires a trained professional who understands the core issues. Adoptees often feel they are “not good enough” and “should be getting over the past”. Relax, you are not going crazy.

I understand this population from the inside out. I have worked with hundreds of adoptees and their families. I also have a specialized certificate in post graduate work for therapy with adopted and foster families from Portland State University.

Adoptive parents want to make it right for their child and are frustrated by the chaos and drama that the child may bring to their family. Adoptive parents need support from a professional who understands that traditional parenting strategies don’t always work. They need to feel validated and receive new strategies which might be of benefit to the child as well as the family.

If adoption has impacted your life, and you feel life isn’t going right or you keep repeating the mistakes from the past, don’t live in shame or fear of speaking up. I would be honored to be of assistance. Adoption is my life and my passion.


FAMILY MEDIATION

I have been a family mediator since 1990. I specialize in working with Department of Human Services (DHS) families who are involved with foster care and adoption planning. I have helped negotiate over 350 post-adoption communication agreements between birth and adoptive families when termination of parental rights is the agency plan. This is not an easy time for the children, adoptive resource or birth families. Having a compassionate mediator who understands the long-range issues is valuable for creating a Post-Adoption Communication Agreement as well as exploring resources for the child or family.

Openness means on-going communication between birth and adoptive families. It is not joint custody. Open adoption planning is NOT the written agreement but a process that takes time to create. Every adoption involves loss and grief which impact all parties. It is helpful to have a neutral mediator who understands topics needed to be covered in creating useable agreements but also someone who understands the complexities of these relationships.

I have lived adoption as well as worked in this field for most of my thirty-year career. I moved from a closed adoption to open adoption with a continuum of openness with different birth family members in my own life journey. I understand the emotional difficulty of merging families and the impact extended family or outsiders may have on all parties.

These mediations require time and trust. Let someone guide your decision making who is both knowledgeable and sensitive. Navigating state bureaucracies, working with attorneys and agencies are stressful. It is helpful to have a specially trained family mediator who understands child welfare and adoption issues.

Eldercare issues that require the planning by adult children can be stressful. At times it is beneficial to have a neutral third party who can assist families who might have different opinions about placement or property issues when the elder is unable to assist with the planning. I have worked with eldercare issues for thirteen years in acute care settings. I also have had twenty years of problem solving with a disabled parent negotiating health care and placement issues with agencies and other family members with differing opinions. I understand this can be a difficult time for families.


ILLNESS/ACCIDENTS and HEALTH CARE ISSUES

I have worked in the medical field for many years as a social worker. After the crisis we are often left feeling fearful and emotional. I have assisted hundreds of family through crisis in intensive care settings at a hospital, in hospice and in community settings.

I also had my personal tragedy helping support a parent who had a severe stroke and traumatic brain injury through twenty years of struggle and involvement with the healthcare system.

I personally understand how illness and disability impact the entire family system. Often there are so many practical problems there is little time to address our feelings of grief and loss. The medical system can often feel cold and detached.

Secondary or vicarious trauma is also a reality for healthcare workers and emergency responders. I understand compassion fatigue and the stress working in high conflict or stressful settings may cause professionals. We all attempt to protect our psyche from distress. At times we turn to unhealthy strategies to get us through hard times. If this is true for you, having confidential and non-judgmental support may be helpful.



BIRTH RELATED TRAUMA, INFERTILITY, MISCARRIAGE, INFANT DEATH and PREGNACY COMPLICATIONS

Infertility and loss can be a lonely journey for both partners. At times it is difficult to get all the support and help we need from our partners who may have differing styles of coping. It might be helpful to use a therapist who has not only a professional background but personal understanding of the pain and grief associated with infertility, miscarriage, infant death and birth related trauma.

If you feel that the past is revisiting you, even if your events happened many years ago, this is not unusual. Our body does keep score of past events, good or difficult. It may be surprising, it is often when life is going well or when our children leave home that we finally go back to heal old wounds.


SPIRITUAL PAIN and BEREAVEMENT

The pending or recent loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult life journeys to experience. Forgiveness, relationship pain, reflections about the meaning of our life and hopelessness often come with transitions through our own illness or through bereavement. Suicide is especially complicated.

I would honor the opportunity to be witness to your personal growth through illness or bereavement, from hurting to healing. I believe in our innate ability to heal mind, body and spirit.

Time is a powerful part of healing, but personal growth can also occur through emotional painful experiences and suffering. Our culture does not allow much time to do this. Therapy allows time for you to examine that which causes you spiritual pain. EMDR is a therapy which provided me a great deal of relief from old wounds, spiritual pain and suffering. I know from personal experience that we can make it through the darkest hours and experience hope and joy again.


CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH

Children and teens often experience profound loss and distress, but they demonstrate it in different ways than adults. Whether it is from parental divorce, transitions to college, a death, losses of a friend or previous foster family, children and teens do suffer emotional distress. Frequently we see changes in sleep, energy or eating patterns. It is often irritability or isolation rather than tearfulness which show up with children. A change in focus or attention or a change in their desire to be apart of the family activities which seem different. “Something is just off” report many parents about their child’s behaviors or mood. These changes in mood are hard for the youth to describe in words. A professional might be able to assess or help you in ways you were not expecting. It is always helpful to rule out any medical conditions first.

I also have extensive experience working with special needs children in foster care and those with complex trauma, attachment issues and Post Traumatic Stress in their lives.

Some common coping strategies of dependency, avoidance or anxiety if not addressed in early years, can become personality traits in later years. Adult personality traits are much more difficult to change. I have had kids and love working with kids of all ages.


ADDICTIONS and RECOVERY

People often seek out immediate fire-fighting strategies to help us cope with life, pain or emotions. I also understand how relief can turn into a problem when it comes to drugs or alcohol or other compulsive behaviors. I also understand how compassion fatigue can result in turning to substances to numb the feelings.

Professionals are equally at risk. Stressful work environments may encourage unhealthy habits which may lead to addictive behaviors. When problem drinking turns to craving and mental obsession it might be time to examine what is happening in a confidential counseling setting.

EMDR has demonstrated effectiveness in targeting maladaptive coping strategies at all levels of recovery. Please look at the section about EMDR on this webpage for more information. If you are tired of doing the same thing over and over again despite your best intentions to stop, it might be time to ask for assistance. There might be a softer-more gentle way.


COSTS and INSURANCE

Call me to discuss charges and insurance billing. I can bill many insurance companies for out-patient therapy. I will work with insurance companies that accept out of network providers. I have a limited number of slots for sliding fees. I can also bill Washington State Adoption Support.