Humans, like animals, are biologically designed
to move through difficult experiences and to recover. When we get overwhelmed or when our environments are highly stressful, however, our natural and innate healing processes can get disrupted. This might show up as PTSD in one person, as chronic illness in a second, and as recurring pain in a third. It is as if our bodies get stuck in a "survival mode", caught in patterns of hibernation, high vigilance or a unique combination of these. The good news is that, when sufficient safety and resources become available, our bodies are capable of recovery and renewed resiliency.
Individuals with chronic illness and unusual physical symptoms
have experienced traumatic events and stressors with surprising frequency. These are often subtle or seem like normal daily events but the science of traumatic stress helps make sense of it all. It shows how such symptoms represent a "nervous system issue", rather than a "tissue issue". And it explains how chronic illness is not psychological
even when there is a history of trauma.
I specialize in understanding and working with chronic illness from a trauma and nervous system perspective.
LEARN MORE ON MY BLOG Chronic Illness Trauma Studies
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My work as a psychotherapist is informed by
my background as a family physician and assistant professor of medicine; published research linking trauma, averse babyhood and childhood experiences as risk factors for chronic illness and patterns of symptom variability; an MA in Somatic Psychology; and specialization in body based trauma therapies such as Somatic Experiencing ("SE") and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (more
I work with adults with chronic illness
such as fibromyalgia, lupus, diabetes, chronic fatigue, Parkinson's, as well as with individuals who have unusual symptoms
, including pain, numbness, fatigue...
I specialize in physical symptoms that may:
- fit no clear diagnosis despite extensive workup
- come and go in seemingly unpredictable ways
- have been unresponsive to treatment
- have no known effective treatment
- be poorly understood from a medical perspective
- began following, or be influenced by, stressful or traumatic events
- ... more
Physical and other symptoms
are influenced by how life events interact with our genes (epigenetics) . This involves the the cell danger response.
From this perspective
, chronic illnesses and unusual physical symptoms are often driven by altered patterns of nervous system regulation, just as they are in PTSD.
The type of work
we do together involves recognizing and following the "footprints" held by the body, which mark the places where we may have gotten hurt or stuck. These footprints, which are experienced as sensations, images, thoughts and emotions, can show us how to move through these places to the inherent sense of safety, joy, and calm that lie beneath. This underlying sense of health exists in all of us, and we can begin to access this state, which can enable us to lead more satisfying lives alongside whatever symptoms we may have.
More about this approach
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