7 Pleasant Street
Northampton, MA 01060
Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) is an approach to therapy that views each person as consisting of multiple “parts.” Each of us contains different and sometimes conflicting aspects that may manifest as mental voices, feelings or personality states. IFS also sees each person as having a “Self,” a harmonizing core, that when present, allows the “parts” to function optimally, without debilitating conflict. Most of us, due to difficult experiences in our lives, have vulnerable parts that are hidden and defended by protector parts. Depending on the level of hurt or trauma, these protector parts can be more or less extreme. For example, parts may influence us to engage in behaviors (such as drinking, drug use, social avoidance, worrying, etc.) that may keep us from feeling vulnerability in the short term but may be problematic or damaging in other ways. IFS therapy works by helping clients access Self, so that they can more easily get to know and work with vulnerable and protector parts, and bring their internal system into greater harmony. This approach is compatible with mindfulness, which provides tools for accessing Self energy. I am a Certified Internal Family Systems Therapist.
Mindfulness is a practice that originated in ancient spiritual traditions. It is most often associated with Buddhism but can be found in many other religions, including Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. I learned and practiced Vipassana, a Buddhist mindfulness practice, for many years. The basis of the practice is to use sensory experience to ground one’s awareness in the present moment, regardless of whether the experience is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. This present-moment attention reduces the anxiety and stress fueled by discursive thinking (worrying, planning, etc.) and can facilitate deep acceptance and contentment with life as it is. This mindfulness practice was developed into a secular stress reduction program by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. Kabat-Zinn's program, which he called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, teaches participants to use meditative practices, such as breathing and body-awareness, as well as attention to daily activities. I trained with the MBSR program at the Center for Mindfulness at the UMass Medical center in 2002. I often use aspects of the approach to help my clients reduce stress and anxiety. I also feel that my own practice of mindfulness is integral to my ability to be present and open for my clients.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is informed by a rich body of theory and practice dating back to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis, modified and critiqued by many generations of theorist-practitioners since his time. This perspective is particularly concerned with relationships, and how relational dynamics are often repeated. Psychodynamic psychotherapy pays attention to unconscious motivations and feelings, making these influences more conscious. This is an area where the practice of mindfulness supports psychodynamic work, particularly in the context of the relationship with the therapist. This increased consciousness facilitates insight, which leads to greater flexibility and possibility in one's life and relationships. I trained in psychodynamic therapy methods at the Program for Psychotherapy at Cambridge Health Alliance.
Narrative Therapy is interested in the stories we tell about ourselves and how these narratives enrich or impoverish our sense of ourselves. Such beliefs are often problematically influenced by dominant social narratives (for example, the barrage of messages that we have to buy certain things to be happy, or particular depictions of relationships and sex). Narrative therapy works by helping people access and express their own creative, unique and empowering stories, which allow them to find their deepest values and potentials.
661 Massachusetts Ave
Arlington, MA 02476