My Theoretical Perspectives, Training,

& Research Interests

As a psychotherapist, I aim to help you grow in your attunement to your Self through learning how to interpret the language of your nervous system and create a more reality-based, nurturing relationship with your own inner wisdom. I encourage daily reflective or creative practices like journaling, reading, walking in nature, stretching, drawing, or whatever best fosters your processing, regulation, and connection with Self. I recommend looking for daily ‘glimmers,’ gratitudes, and micro-moments of awe, joy, contentment, and ease. I celebrate unplugging from technology and solidly believe that being outside and in direct relationship with nature is important 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. As a feminist-oriented therapist, I am interested in exploring and processing how an individual’s experience (as female) may have been impacted by factors such as homophobia, sexism/misogyny, rape culture, and other forms of oppression.

Another guiding principle of my work is “self-as-instrument,” which arises from the “person-centered” or “Rogerian” model of psychotherapy, which was taught at my graduate school (Lesley University, 2002 – 2004). This is 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.

Neuro-Affirming & Neuro-Inclusive Care

I am interested in all aspects of the autistic (female) experience. Current research interests include: sex differences; late-diagnosed Autism/ADHD in adult women, misdiagnosis of borderline personality and differential diagnosis; neuro-inclusive approaches to trauma treatment; sexual and intimate violence prevention education; autism and gender; and benefits of eco-therapy.

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 a near and dear topic titled: “Love 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.” This talk focused on the importance of screening for autism in adult women presenting for treatment with chronic mental health challenges, betrayal trauma, addiction, and relationship difficulties.

Together, Candice and I developed a neuro-affirmative screening tool for IITAP clinicians to help inform about the autistic presentation and reframe autism as a neurotype, not a disorder, focused on exploring “autistic ways of being,” available here:

A link to download our Neuro-Affirming Autism Screening Tool is available HERE.

Note: We ask that you please respect copyright should you choose to utilize this tool.

Additionally, this Neuro-Affirmative Autism Screening Tool is included within Jenna Riemersma’s newest book, “Altogether Us: Integrating the IFS Model with Key Modalities, Communities, and Trends” (2023), as part of the chapter “Embodying IFS with Neurodivergent Clients” authored by Candice Christiansen, MEd, CHMC, and Meg Martinez-Dettamanti, MS, CMHC.

Feel free to contact me for questions or consultation.

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 expanding beyond the codependency model to an exploration of unconscious &/or conscious “masking” / “camouflaging” strategies learned in childhood and helping to support 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 & ADHDer’s.

Somatic Therapies and Creative Expressive Arts