My Theoretical Perspectives, Training,

& Research Interests

As a psychotherapist, I see my role as guiding you toward a more attuned, nurturing, and reality-based, relationship with your Self through learning how to interpret the language of your nervous system and attune to your own inner wisdom. I encourage daily practices like journaling, reading, meditation, movement, or drawing to help foster your connection with your inner Self. I recommend looking for daily ‘glimmers,’ gratitudes, and micro-moments of awe, joy, contentment, and ease. I celebrate creative expression in all forms. I encourage being outside more often and believe establishing a direct relationship with nature as a resource can play an important role in the healing process.

Feminist Theory and Person-Centered Psychotherapy

My therapy practice is deeply grounded in my own inner psychological growth and development work. One of the tenements of feminist theory is that “the personal is political” (Carol Hanisch, 1970) and as a feminist therapist, I offer space to explore and process how an individual’s experience (as female) may have been impacted by misogyny, rape culture, sexism, and other intersecting forms of oppression.

Another guiding principle of my work is “self-as-instrument,” which arises from the “person-centered” or “Rogerian” model of psychotherapy. This was the ethos of my graduate training at Lesley University (2002-2004), which places responsibility on the therapist to actively engage in their own psychotherapy, suggesting “you can only take your clients as far as you have been willing to go in your own healing process.”

This perspective is also rooted in the belief that people have the inherent capacity to develop self-understanding and make positive, growth-directed changes when they are in the right therapeutic environment. Rogerian therapists are clinically trained to establish the essential groundwork for successful therapy: empathy, unconditional positive regard, and trust in the healing power possible within the therapeutic relationship itself.

Though I have gone on to study and practice a wide variety of other therapeutic approaches since I began this path, the person-centered philosophy remains a core foundation of my work.

Polyvagal Theory

Viewing human experience through the lens of the autonomic nervous system provides an immediate pathway toward an embodied understanding of our reactions as reflections of our nervous system state. By taking note of where we are on the “polyvagal ladder,” we can more successfully identify and employ the skills we need to support our nervous system in “climbing the ladder” back to the “safe and social” or “ventral vagal” state.

Deb Dana, LCSW
The Polyvagal Ladder

Clients can expect to learn the basics of polyvagal theory during the course of our work together. Active identification of the “cues of safety” or “glimmers” is often the foundation of our initial work, in addition to “nervous system mapping,” which teaches us how to understand the language of your body and what it needs to regulate.

In January 2021, I completed a six-month training with Deb Dana, LCSW in her Foundations of Polyvagal Theory Rhythm of Regulation Level One and participated in an ongoing monthly clinical consultation group with Jan Winhall, LCSW, FOT, and author of Treating Trauma & Addiction with the Felt Sense Polyvagal Model from 2021 – 2022.

Post-Induction Therapy

Post Induction Therapy is a trauma treatment model developed by Pia Mellody in her work at the Meadows Treatment Center (Wickenburg, AZ). The premise of PIT is that childhood trauma, including abuse and neglect, is the origin of developmental immaturity, or “codependency.” This treatment model provides an approach for “growing ourselves up” through psychoeducation, inner child connection, and focused re-parenting work.

As a PIT-trained therapist, I help clients reconnect with “the nature of the precious child,” and teach ways to offer their own inner child the 3 essentials of attachment-centered mothering as taught by Kelly McDaniel, LMFT, CSAT: 1) nurturing, 2) protection, and 3) guidance. For neuro-different clients, I am particularly interested in exploring the intersection of the codependency framework with unconscious or conscious “masking” and “camouflaging” strategies learned in childhood and supporting the expression of the authentic adult self.

Sex/Love/Relationship Addiction

As a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist through the International Institute of Trauma and Addiction Professionals, I completed over 120 hours of specialized education and 30 supervised clinical hours in order to meet the rigorous standards to qualify for this expertise.

The focus of my clinical practice as a CSAT is on working with single women seeking to understand, interrupt, and break free from repetitive cycles of unfulfilling relationships. I particularly enjoy supporting neuro-different women with complex histories of sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, exploitation, and relationship “addiction” in learning how to come back to their bodies and experience safety in connection with Self and others.

I utilize the World Health Organization’s definition of sexual health in working with my clients, which states that sexual health is: “…a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.” (WHO, 2006a).

Attachment-Focused EMDR

I completed the Attachment-Focused EMDR Basic Training (Levels 1, 2, & 3) through the Parnell Institute with Laurel Parnell in August 2022 and am currently pursuing certification. I absolutely love AF-EMDR resource tapping and continue to research neuro-affirmative adaptions for trauma reprocessing with autistics.

Neurodiversity Studies

I am interested in all aspects of the autistic female experience. Current research interests include sex differences, earlier identification of females, differential diagnosis, neuro-affirming approaches to diagnosis and treatment, sexual and relationship violence prevention for autistic girls and women, gender dysphoria, fostering positive autistic identity, executive functioning supports, the neurodiversity social justice movement, and feminism.

I co-presented with Candice Christiansen, LMHC, CSAT-S, Director of Namaste Center for Healing, at the April 2023 International Institute of Trauma & Addiction Professionals Annual Symposium on “Loved Addicted or Autistic & Seeking Safety? Accurately Screening, Assessing, and Treating Autistic Females Presenting with Symptoms of Trauma, Sex, and Love Addiction to Inpatient and Outpatient Settings.” Together, we developed a neuro-affirmative screening tool for IITAP clinicians that we will make available to the public in short form soon.

Somatic Therapies and Creative Expressive Arts