Many people know they need counseling but are scared to engage in the process. The first step is usually the hardest which is picking up the phone and making the call. I have been providing counseling for over 20 years to children, adolescents and adults with all kinds of problems. Counseling can change your life and your families. It is a safe place to share your feelings and challenges with someone and then find healthy ways to deal with them. Together we evaluate your strengths and work together to find ways to channel those in a positive direction creating healthy life change.
I specialize in providing counseling to inidividuals with ADHD, Anxiety, Panic, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, PTSD, Depression, Addiction and behavioral problems. Over the years I have developed specialized therapuetic interventions to assist with addressing behaviors and symptoms that facilitate growth and change.
What is Psychotherapy? Many people hear that word and immediate feel fear that they are being analzyed in a negative way. Psychotherapy includes interactive processes that assist a client with exploring various issues and stressors that are having an impact on their quality of life. The purpose is to explore thoughts, feelings and behaviors for the purpose of problem solving or achieving higher levels of functioning. Psychotherapy aims to assist the client on increasing their sense of well-being. I employ a range of techniques based on experiential relationship building, dialogue, communication and behavior change that are designed to improve the mental health of a client and their relationships with others. It is nothing to be scared of but a positive exciting life changing process to be embraced!
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences and emotional distress. EMDR is used to not only treat trauma but anxiety, panic, grief and emotional distress related to intense life experiences.
We know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. An experience or a moment becomes “frozen in time,” so to speak and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.
Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy many people can move more quickly through emotional issues then compared to traditional psychotherapies. The brain’s information processing system naturally wants to and tries to move toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes.
EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting.
More than 30 positive controlled outcome studies have been done on EMDR therapy. Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions. Another study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions. In another study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions. There has been so much research on EMDR therapy that it is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense.
An important assessment tool is an EEG brain map, also called qEEG or Quantitative EEG. It helps give us a picture of what’s going on in the brain.
Quantitative Electroencephalography (qEEG) Brain Mapping is a non-invasive assessment that records electrical activity (EEG) that is produced from the brain by sensors attached to a cap and placed on the head. The EEG or electroencephalograph shows this activity instantaneously, within a few thousandths of a second after it occurs in the brain. EEG’s are used medically by neurologists to evaluate neurological disorders like epilepsy, but they are increasingly being used by behavioral and mental health professionals to provide more information to make better treatment decisions.
EEG shows us the activity in the brain and the coordination of activity of the cortex which is the outermost layer of the brain. The EEG analysis can show areas of the brain where there is too little or too much activity and this is compared to other people of the same age or the norm. It can also show when areas of the brain are not coordinating their activity properly which provides invaluable information for developing supportive treatment protocols. By assessing the EEG in 19 areas of your brain, we are often able to see patterns that are associated with the behaviors, symptoms or performance that an individual is struggling with. After reviewing the patterns, the therapist can determine a counseling and brain-based protocol that will be more successful. It helps eliminate some of the guess work.
This procedure is supported by evidence-based research and clinical EEG databases that assist with providing a normative measure of brainwave activity. This tool is utilized to measure the speed and processing efficiency of neuronal brain functioning and can be used to evaluate a person’s brainwaves. This evaluation serves as a basis for identifying fluctuations in brain functioning that are associated with different types of mental health disorders such as; ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, Dementia, Mild Head Injury, Addictions, and Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder. A QEEG assessment will provide an invaluable picture of the state of our brain and how we are utilizing it.
One of the newest approaches to treating neurological and behavioral problems is EEG Neurotherapy, or Neurofeedback. Neurofeedback or EEG biofeedback training is accomplished by utilizing a computer-based EEG monitoring system that processes signals from the brain and gives the individual immediate feedback by means of video displays and auditory responses. EEG Neurotherapy is a painless, non-invasive procedure that measures brainwave activity and provides the client with feedback if there is too much of a certain type of activity or not enough. Gradually the brain responds to cues that are given and a learning of new brain waves takes place. This new pattern is one that is closer to what is normally observed in individuals without such symptoms.
Neurofeedback makes use of the brain’s capacity for change by reshaping electrical response patterns and reshaping brain networks. It is a way to directly train the brain to function better. Neurofeedback is a research-supported treatment to improve symptoms and improve functioning. Research has shown for example that individuals with ADHD have excessive slow brain waves (theta) and not enough fast wave activity (beta) during activities requiring concentration. Neurotherapy trains individuals to increase beta and decrease theta activity in order to normalize the brain wave activity associated with primary ADHD. Research has shown that once the brain learns to regulate itself, it continues to do so. This natural approach provides the brain with a better, more efficient pattern for normal functioning, resulting in decreased symptoms of ADD/ADHD and other neurological based disorders. Better grades and improved relationships provide rapid boosts of self-esteem. Neurotherapy gives the individual a tool with which to change the level of various types of electrical activity in the brain. The brain is amazingly adaptable and capable of learning. By improving brain performance, therapy is more productive and long-lasting. For example, if someone has difficulty focusing and attending it can impact every area of their life from home, to school to work. By using neurofeedback to improve executive functioning and an individuals ability to focus, the person is able to make positive changes in their work, performance and in relationships. They are able to stay on task and stay focused on a conversation which improves daily experiences and interactions.
Neurofeedback has been used to treat ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, learning disabilities, OCD, trauma, head injury and addiction.
Neurofeedback for ADHD: On October, 2012 the American Academy of Pediatrics rated neurofeedback as a Level 1 “Best Support” Intervention for ADHD; this is the highest possible rating and at the same level as medication treatment and behavior therapy. Below we have listed one of the best studies to review that analyzed multiple studies supporting neurofeedback as an effective treatment for ADHD.
Efficacy of Neurofeedback Treatment in ADHD: the Effects on Inattention, Impulsivity and Hyperactivity: a Meta-Analysisby Arns M, de Ridder S, Strehl U, Breteler M and Coenen AJournal of Clinical EEG & Neuroscience, July, 2009
Neurofeedback for Addiction: The 1989 Peniston study which became the peniston protocol for the treatment of addiction using neurofeedback showed a 79% abstinence rate for abstinence 12 months post treatment. Peniston and Scott published a follow up study in 1993, and reported a follow up 12-18 months after treatment using neurofeedback noting 79% of the participants remained abstinent from PTSD and alcoholism. The largest replication of the peniston studies and most efficacious addiction study to date using neurofeedback was a randomized controlled trial of 121 adults in addiction treatment conducted by UCLA, which was published in a 2005 edition of The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, titled, “Effect of an EEG Biofeedback Protocol on a Mixed Substance Abusing Population“. This study showed a 77% abstinence rate 12 months post treatment. Studies have been published showing that utilizing neurofeedback as an adjunct to treatment for Opiate users significantly improves success in treatment and symptom management - one of the hardest groups to treat. Research has shown that when neurofeedback is combined consistently and with proper protocol in treatment the success rate goes from the national average of 21% abstinence 6 months post treatment to 77-79% abstinence rate 12 months post treatment.
Also you will find a review of neurofeedback for mulitple disorders in Clinical Neurotherapy: Application of Techniques for Treatment.
AVS utilizes LED lights that occur at specific clinical frequencies to stimulate the brain and improve brain functioning. AVS is a form of Neurotherapy and helps reduce EEG slowing, a problem typical for people who are over-stressed, injured, depressed or traumatized. AVS is said to increase the "flexibility" of the brain by increasing the range and variability of dominant frequencies. AVS is helpful in relieving sleep disturbances, stress, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, headaches, and improving attention or focus. AVS is a very relaxing treatment that only takes 30 minutes.
AVS is a form of Neurotherapy in which led lights and binaural sounds stimulate the brain to improve functioning and exercise the brain by stimulating different brainwave patterns. Unlike EEG Neurotherapy, it does not require active participation by the client. AVS helps reduce EEG slowing, a problem typical for people who are over-stressed, injured, depressed or traumatized. AVS is said to increase the "flexibility" of the brain by increasing the range and variability of dominant frequencies. AVS has been used to decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress and improve sleep, attention and academic performance scores.
A review of 20 studies on AVS brainwave entrainment found that it is effective in improving cognition and behavioral problems, and alleviating stress and pain.
A migraine headache study involving seven migraine sufferers found that AVS sessions reduced migraine duration from a pretreatment average of six hours to a posttreatment average of 35 minutes. Measuring 50 of the participants' migraines, 49 migraines decreased in severity and 36 were stopped when using AVS.
Emily Stevens has been working with this technology clinically since 1994 and published one of the first studies showing brain changes in the EEG brain profiles of clients who were depressed and a reduction in symptoms. She also recently wrote a review of the use of this technology for mood disorders in Clinical Neurotherapy.
Cantor, D. & Stevens, E. (2009). QEEG correlates of auditory-visual entrainment treatment efficacy of refractory depression. Journal of Neurotherapy, 13(2): 100-108.
Cantor, D & Evans, J (Stevens, E. Chapter on Mood Disorders). (2014) Clinical Neurotherapy; Application of Techniques for Treatment. Elsevier, Inc.
Biofeedback is a learning process which helps you gain control of your body's responses to stress, anxiety, physical strain and emotional stimuli. Biofeedback can monitor muscle tension, heart-rate, blood pressure, and galvanic skin response, EEG brain waves and others. Biofeedback is a non-invasive, client-centered method of training the body in which the learner actively participates in treatment and learning how to manage stress, muscle tension, anxiety, blood pressure, focus and more. Heart beat variability has been studied in clinical research for the past 50 years and is a good metric for assisting clients in biofeedback learn to calm their system and improve day to day functioning. It has been used by sports teams, musicians, and executives for peak performance.
Heart Rate Variability (HRV) biofeedback is a technique for training people to change the variability and dominant rhythms of their heart activity. HRV biofeedback is a computer based therapy program that provides the individual with heart rate variability feedback that directly correlates with a person’s health, stress levels, anxiety and more. HRV biofeedback techniques are being used to treat a variety of medical and psychiatric conditions, including: anger, anxiety disorders, asthma, cardiovascular conditions including blood pressure issues, depression, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic fatigue, and chronic pain. Biofeedback is an invaluable adjunct to counseling to assist a client in making the emotional, physical and behavioral changes needed to find health and healing in their life.
Emotion recognition and social skill evaluation is applicable to all ages and key to emotional and social success. There is over 20 years of research looking at poor emotion recognition skills as they play a role in behavioral problems, the autism spectrum and also in relationships. Beginning at birth we begin learning to read emotions and social cues and depending upon our family, environment and experiences depends on how well we learn to engage and react socially.
Emily began working with and assessing emotion recognition 18 years ago when she began to explore innovative ways to improve behavior problems in children at home and at school. By careful assessment, an individual can be trained to improve how they read emotions and social cues which results in improved behavior and relationships at school, at work and at home. Couples often mis-read each other and by applying these same approaches we can assist with improving communication and marital success.
Is your chid having difficulty socially? Having difficulty getting along with others and making friends? An emotion recognition and social skill assessment may be what you need to help develop a plan to improve his/her interactions. Many people will tell us that they have been to therapy but after talking further, it was not specific to treating and training social skills.
Many children and adults struggle with attention, focus, impulse control and working memory. By using specialized software and interventions research has shown that you can measurably improve attention, focus, impulse control and working memory without medication.
Working memory helps improve attention and performance at school and at work. It is the ability to retain relevant information and is important to use while we are learning and for task completion. Working memory is important to cognitive tasks such as attention and problem solving.
Working memory problems are often associated with ADHD and may be seen in individuals with learning disabilities, head trauma and even stroke. Poor working memory can play a crucial role in a person’s performance. Westerberg conducted a study with more than 100 adults with normal working memory capacities. Despite their normal working memory they still showed significant improvement and the participants between the ages of 60 and 70 improved to the same base working memory level of 20 – 30 year olds.
Research has shown that you can train working memory which enhances performance and attention. The American Academy of pediatrics has now identified computerized training of working memory a viable treatment for ADHD and has been shown to reduce symptoms of ADHD as well as increase IQ and performance scores.
Vibroacoustic sound therapy for anxiety, pain management, parkinsons, autism and stress management.
Vibroacoustic Sound therapy (VAT) consists of low sound frequencies that are transmitted to the body through special transducers that convert the sound creating a music massage for the body. VAT is an approach to low frequency sound therapy developed by Olav Skille in Norway between 1968 and 1980 and first applied to developmentally delayed children with a prototype in 1980. It is now being applied to depression, anxiety, parkinsons, withdrawal, pain management, blood pressure management and more. Below we have highlighted only a few of the areas of research that VAT has been applied to showing that as a treatment for anxiety, pain management, withdrawal and poor sleep it can be helpful to the person in recovery when used with the proper protocols.
Study on Pain and Anxiety Reduction: In a program at the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers attained more than 50% reduction of pain and other symptoms using VibroAcoustic technology. A program evaluation study, published in 1999, revealed a reduction of pain and other symptoms between 49% and 59% for the NIH study on pain management. Because of this success, the VibroAcoustic program has been an ongoing patient and family treatment offering at NIH for over eight years and continues to obtain these effective results. The National Institute of Health and other studies have shown that a treatment on a vibroacoustic sound table provides the following:
• Over 50% reduction of pain and symptoms
• Slows heart rate
• Reduces oxygen consumption
• Decreases blood pressure
• Slows respiration rate
• Clears the mind from anxiety
• Creates a feeling of calm and peacefulness
• Relaxes muscles
• Changes brain wave frequencies (generally slowing down from beta to alpha and alpha to theta or delta)
A study at Duke University Medical Center also reported significant pain reduction for 20 women who had surgery for various cancers. Another Duke University study revealed that patients who received vibroacoustic physical therapy following total knee replacements showed increased range of motion.
Studies on pain management and post surgery improvement with VAT have been also been conducted with cardiac patients, knee replacement and physical trauma showing improvement.
Effects of Cancer Treatment: Tests with chemotherapy patients at the Jupiter Medical Center in Florida found the following: 62.8% reduction of anxiety and 61.6% reduction of fatigue for 27 patients in 41 vibroacoustics sessions.
Insomnia: Studies have shown that by assisting the client in experiencing deep relaxation and pain reduction, VAT improves sleep and decreases insomnia. Patients easily fall asleep during treatment and post treatment report having less difficulty in falling asleep at their normal time for retiring and the duration of sleep is longer than they normally experience. This led to specific use as therapy for insomnia. Treatment for insomnia has best effects when it is carried out in the late afternoon.
Parkinsons: Results have found vibroacoustic treatments to be extremely effective for reducing symptoms associated with Parkinson’s. Generally the effects of the treatment last 24 -48 hours.
In 2009, a study by King, Lauren K., Almeida, Quincy J., Ahonen, H in Canada showed that no major symptom category is left untouched by vibroacoustic therapy. UPDRS scores for tremor and rigidity both improved.
The effects of Vibroacoustic Therapy extend beyond the body and also help the brain. It also provides deep physical cellular stimulation to skin, muscles and joints, resulting in decreased pain and increased mobility. Like traditional massage, vibroacoustic therapy aids circulation, relaxes muscles, lowers blood pressure, decreases cortisol from chronic stress, improves immune system response and generally feels good.
Reference: Skille, O. (1989) Conditions responding well to treatment, cited in Skille, O. and Wigram, A. (1995) The effects of music, vocalization and vibrations on brain and muscle tissue: Studies in Vibroacoustic Therapy. In Wigram, A., Saperston, B. and West, R. (Eds) The Art and Science of Music Therapy: a Handbook. London: Harwood Academic
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