Healing disorganized attachment

If you’re struggling with a disorganized attachment style, you are torn between two or three different impulses in relationships. It feels chaotic inside, and it can get chaotic in your relationships.

Sometimes, people seem caring but then they seem to turn on you. For no reason that you can identify.

You are fine with acquaintances, but once a relationship gets deeper, you start feeling some internal chaos — like you don’t know whether to get way closer, to run away screaming, or to split the difference somehow!

You find yourself feeling like you’re going in two directions at once in the same relationship, and it’s exhausting for you (and maybe the other person!). It’s like wanting to floor the accelerator and pound on the brake of a car at the same time.

You are afraid to get close to people, afraid of the chaos this might unleash.

You have a vague sense of dread in relationships. You may not be able to identify quite what this is all about, but somehow, it feels like you aren’t really safe with others. You can’t settle.

You feel out of control of your own feelings, impulses, and behavior.

You alternate between trying to avoid someone and wanting to be very close to them, and you often don’t know what’s governing these cycles of closeness and distance.

You say things that other people find to be inconsistent. Like you ask for help, but then if help comes, it doesn’t feel safe, or good, or like what you asked for. Maybe others find you hard to please.

You sometimes feel like giving up on yourself, or giving up on relationships. But you have intense yearning at the very same time.

You feel stuck in your relationships, and if you’re in therapy, often feel stuck there — like you, your therapist, or both of you, are being too difficult!

Relationships feel like a landmine.

And yet, you need relationships.

You want to be close. (We all do!) When closeness stirs up memories of abandonment or hurt, though, it’s like your body starts doing something else. It’s as if you move toward and away from relationships at the same time.

Connection has gotten entangled with hurt. With fear. With rage. With desolation. With desperation. With conflict.

This is understandable.

This is what happens when the people who were supposed to take care of you, listen to you, and keep you safe were also the people who walked away from you, couldn’t listen, or were the source of hurt.

As children, we can’t just walk away

When we’re young, we don’t have the option to look at our parents and say, “This isn’t working out well. I think I’ll find parents who are a better match for my needs.”

We have to connect to them. Even when it’s scary. Even when it’s confusing. Even when it hurts. 

But, when we’re being hurt — physically, emotionally, or spiritually — we also have other impulses, to flee or to fight. Our self-protective impulses kick in.

These are good impulses. But they aren’t safe to employ with caregivers who are bigger and more powerful, than the moment, than you are. You end up with suppressed rage, an urge to run but nowhere to go —

And  yet still, the yearning for connection.

Often, this all gets so confusing that you freeze up — it’s like you don’t feel safe coming toward your caregivers, but there’s nowhere to go. You can’t fight. But it doesn’t feel safe to connect either.

As an adult, you feel like these same binds keep playing in your relationships over and over again. You may sometimes feel like you’re insane, and other times feel like the  whole world’s gone mad!

Things just don’t seem stable, or safe.

You just can’t get comfortable.

Someone feels great to be around one moment, and terrifying the next.

It’s like everything keeps getting flipped upside down in your mind, in your world.

It doesn’t seem to make sense.

Even when you’re with a partner, or a friend, or a therapist, who demonstrates that they care for you over and over again, and who never hurts you, sometimes you still can’t trust them. And, on a deeper level, you feel like you can’t trust yourself.

So what can be done?

When I see clients who have struggled with these binds, hope often starts to come in quite soon. A lot of this is that I get it about disorganized attachment, so from our very first session, we start to talk in an open way about yearnings, fears, yearnings towards and push-aways — and this opens up a safe space for all of the parts of you to come forward!

We also work, carefully, to help you through the traumatic reactions in your body — reactions to the “fear without solution” you experienced when you were small.

We notice empathically together what’s happening for you. For some clients, this is the first experience they’ve had of getting explicit compassion for their conflict within relationships. We start to notice what’s happening together, and what might happen next.

One client of mine and I started tracking a pattern together: She would feel connected in a session, like I was tracking her. She would start to share deeper things with me, to really start to kind of “land” — and then, all of a sudden, it was as if I couldn’t say anything right! The slightest shift in my tonality could be experienced as hurtful — and yet, it also didn’t feel safe for me to back off or be quieter to give her more room.

Knowing about this helped us both. We could talk, when she wasn’t in that fragile space, about what it might be about. We could connect, notice when she was feeling ready to dive deeper, and then check in with the part of her that might not feel safe to do that.

Therapy with disorganized attachment takes time. It takes delicacy! We both get to be human beings who make mistakes. One of the big things that heals is that I stick with you. We look carefully together at both the moments that feel great and the moments that don’t feel so good — and we find new experiences together. Experiences where you can come closer — and have your needs heard, met, seen, and understood. Experiences where you can have your terror understood, worked with, talked with directly, and soothed.

In this kind of therapy, you learn over time to be more compassionate with yourself. You learn to tolerate other people’s mistakes without them feeling so dangerous. You learn to notice what’s safe and what isn’t safe. You learn to draw toward people at a pace that’s safe for you.

We find together the moments where you connect in a secure, kind, well-boundaried way — and we notice this together! None of us are all one attachment style, so even though your relationships may have been fraught with significant conflict, there are still lovely moments that you have with people. You and I will have many great moments, and we’ll notice them together! We’ll notice what it’s like to come in my office and to just know that you’re welcome, or what it’s like to feel those tears of relief when your sense of urgent need is welcomed and understood.

We’ll work slowly and quickly, all at once!

Clients who do this deep work often report unexpected changes in their lives in a short time period: Sometimes, they feel an overall sense of increased calm. Sometimes, they find that they can take a nap when they’re tired and go to sleep at night, when this had been very difficult before.

Clients use words like “ease,” “safety,” “feeling welcome”.

Clients also use words like “relief” when they see and hear that I get them, and that we can work through the feelings that have been too hard to put to words — together.

Attachment wounds heal through relationships. So you and I work to build a relationship that feels safe enough, steady enough, good enough. (Not perfect, because no relationship is!).

If you’re dealing with wounds from this attachment style, please know that therapy can help. Even if it hasn’t helped before. Even if you’ve had your attachment dilemmas pathologized or you’ve been blamed before for your “faulty thinking” or your “poor communication.”

Once you work with a therapist who understands trauma and attachment wounds and knows how to work compassionately with them– well, it’s not necessarily smooth sailing. But it gets a heck of a lot easier!

Here are some therapies I highly recommend if you’re struggling with disorganized attachment types of struggles:

  1. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. A therapy that helps you to feel safe, secure, and grounded in your own body, and helps you to learn to reach out in ways that feel safe. You learn lots of tools for self-soothing, you get help resolving traumatic reactions, and with a therapist who is a good match, you find new experiences in relationships. This therapy is compassionate, non-pathologizing, helps you to slow down and notice what’s happening within yourself moment to moment.
  2. AEDP – (Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy). A therapy that’s about developing a sense of safety with your therapist. A good AEDP therapist doesn’t just listen; she really engages and feels for you as you speak. AEDP therapists will help you to slow things down and to be mindful together of what’s happening within you. AEDP therapists say kind things, and then ask how you’re hearing those things — so that there’s lots and lots of space and permission to say, “I feel like it should feel good to hear that, but I actually feel scared…..” Or to say whatever it is that comes up in the moment. AEDP will help you notice what’s going on in yourself and in your relationships.
  3. Somatic Experiencing – Can help you to work through the intense feelings of overwhelm and shut-down in your body, and can help you to feel more empowered within yourself. SE can come as a huge relief for clients who “can’t talk about it,” because the therapist notices your breathing, your posture, and different motions you make, and helps you to find ways to feel better, stronger, and safer — often without any story needing to be attached at all!

The key thing is to find a therapist who “gets it” about disorganized attachment. Someone who you feel safe with who can help you to feel safe with yourself and connected with them. At a pace that feels right for you.

 

 

 

“Borderline Personality Disorder”

Clients who’ve been diagnosed as “borderline” often know very well what it feels like to be misunderstood, to feel abandoned by their treatment providers, and to feel confused by their own strong emotional reactions. There is true help for borderline personality disorder.

I see BPD as a big, long, agonized cry to have deep needs for connection and validation met. See my video on this:

Contact me if you’d like to learn more about the commitment it takes a therapist and a client to move through BPD symptoms and into healing. It’s work. And it’s worth it!

Looking for a way to counter splitting right away, and want a taste of how I conceptualize this stuff? Here’s my video on “How to Counter Splitting and Understand Relationship Triggers”:

Here’s a story that’s much like the stories of clients I’ve worked with.

She comes into me after abruptly leaving other therapies. She says those therapists started out okay (sometimes they even seemed wonderful.), but none of them really understood her in the end. . One therapist told her to “just quit being so emotional,” and another kicked her out of therapy after she showed up with cuts on her arms right after the therapist had tried to help her. 

She’s good at her job, but her home life feels impossible to manage. She locks herself in her room most of the time, and when she interacts with her husband at all, she very often screams at him.

She says she doesn’t know what comes over her, can’t seem to control these outbursts.

She’s attempted suicide multiple times, usually right after a boyfriend mentioned breaking up with her. She admits, with shame, that sometimes she’s even lied to keep a boyfriend from leaving. She would pretend to be pregnant or injured.

She’s lost most of her friends, and is afraid to reach out again. She feels like no one understands her, and why should they? She fears that if someone did understand her, they’d hate her just like she hates herself.

After our first session, she feels understood and starts to have an inkling that I won’t judge her. I talk straight with her early on, telling her that I know that I run the risk of her walking or running away, because she’s gotten so used to leaving before someone else can leave. I tell her that I sometimes make mistakes, and I will, at some point, probably inadvertently hurt her feelings. We discuss what we can do differently so that she can stay even when I don’t get everything right. And I help her to “pace” her sharing with me, and she learns that she can walk out of a session feeling good, feeling strong in herself. This is different from past therapy where she would sometimes blurt out so much information that she’d leave feeling raw with exposure and shame. She remarks on the feeling of safety she gets by knowing that I’ll encourage her to slow down her sharing if I see her getting overwhelmed.

In future sessions, I help her to focus on her body, on her sensations, and to build a sense of solidity and feeling grounded.

Throughout it all, we’re talking about her high sensitivity, how being so sensitive can feel like both blessing and curse. We do some guided imagery. We talk about some strategies she might use in her communications. And we help her to get in touch with a feeling of safety and confidence more easily.

Several weeks into therapy, she tells me that she’s quit screaming at her husband, and sometimes leaves her room and enjoys herself. We work more on other anxieties or anger she has.

Several months in, her life is looking much better and she’s gaining a sense of having options in how she acts.

Sometimes, she doesn’t feel like showing up to therapy. But because we made an agreement with each other, she shows up anyhow. We talk about what it’s like to run away, what it’s like to show up when she feels like running away, how difficult it can be for her to express her feelings directly. We talk about the things she’d like to tell me, the kinds of things she used to hide from saying by running away or hurting herself or raging. I ask, can she experiment with telling me openly how she feels, or maybe just a piece of it?

We together come to understand different pieces of herself, including a childlike part of herself who needs nurturing.

After getting in touch with herself more, she starts to explore other relationships. And to grieve the relationships she never enjoyed fully until now.

She starts to take up some hobbies she used to enjoy.

As therapy goes on, we walk together through the grief, rage, anger, and ultimately, sadness and sense of aloneness she’s experienced for so much of her life. This time, she feels like someone’s here with her, like she doesn’t have to endure these feelings alone anymore. With increased space to be herself and feel her feelings, she’s able to open up more with her husband as well.

She tells me, “I lost so much. I never knew that I could be like I am now. I thought I was evil inside. But now I feel beautiful. I understand why I did those things. But I don’t have to do them anymore.”

Sound good? Schedule your consultation with me here.

Some of the folks I’ve talked with who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder were dismissed by therapists and loved ones — They may have been told that their reactions and their feelings were “just being borderline” — A devastating thing to hear if you are highly sensitive, as folks with BPD are.

You may have learned to discount your own emotions while feeling immense shame at being “different” — and sometimes feeling rage at people who don’t seem to understand you. Rage, shame, chaos, numbness — the despair can seem inescapable. But there are ways out.

So what does this diagnosis really mean?

You can find the objective criteria by looking up those characteristics, so I’m not going to rehash the dsm definition here.

I’m going to speak about what I’ve seen this mean for people I’ve worked with.

Marsha Linehan, who’s done research on borderline personality disorder, likens the emotional experience of having borderline personality disorder to what it might feel like physically to “live without skin” — the lightest touch or contact can feel unbearable.

It means that your feelings may alternate between numbness and rage.

It means that you can feel super close to someone one moment, and the next, wonder why you ever wanted to know them.

It means that you may have a fear of abandonment that is truly frightening, and that, when someone leaves, you may feel abject terror — which can lead you to doing and saying things that you later just don’t respect. And you wonder, “Why did I do that? Why do I push the people I love away?”

It may mean that you get into relationships with people you’re not sure if you even like. Or that you feel like you create a new identity for yourself around each new relationship. You blend and become what you perceive other people want — often very skillfully. You may be charming, empathic, and give endlessly to others or just become what you sense they want. And at the end of the day, you may go, “But who am I?”

You may have hurt yourself or done some very impulsive things. Sometimes, it may have been because you felt you had no other way to express your pain. Sometimes, it may have been because parts of you felt so numb, and doing something intense helped you to feel yourself and your body again.

Many people who have borderline traits or experiences have not had many experiences with compassion and help working their way through their keen sense of sensitivity. Helping folks with this diagnosis, in my experience, involves a few different things:

1. Helping you to calm any crisis in your life. Safety first!

So we will want to develop ways for you to get through the day, ways to help ensure that you’ll stick with therapy so that we can make real progress.

We’ll work on helping you to feel a sense of stability and safety.

And we’ll work on helping you to establish a commitment to therapy, because if we’re going to work together, we need to get our relationship expectations and any concerns about safety sorted out. Working through struggles that come up in the therapy relationship is one of the fastest ways to change, and to move into true healing that extends to your other relationships.

Because the potential for change through this relationship is so important, and because you might be used to walking away before that can happen, I also require that, once you choose to work with me, you pay for several sessions in advance. Why? Because I know that feelings that come up in therapy can be tough, and I know that, in the past, you may have learned to walk away when you feared someone else would. You’ve likely abandoned yourself and your feelings so many times that it’s become automatic. We break that cycle in therapy right away by establishing a commitment.

2. Helping you to develop a sense of self. That means that I want to help you to connect with who you really are. Sometimes, folks with intense feelings end up living lives that end up being run by the chaos of just trying to manage or get away from those feelings — but beneath any chaos you may be experiencing is a deeply sensitive person with deeply felt values. Good therapy can help you to get in touch with who you are so that you can have a sense of yourself in the midst of relationships, and so that you can live from a place of integrity and solidity.

Some folks come into therapy actually needing to work through the sense of trauma of being abandoned so many times by people who couldn’t understand and couldn’t stay around the chaos.

3. Helping you to learn ways to soothe yourself and calm your own feelings and your own body. You may have been dealing with so much feeling and so much chaos, and it may be that you’ve never learned how to comfort yourself, how to calm yourself down. If your brain is screaming, “Danger!” when it looks like someone is about to leave you or when someone does something to trigger that sensitivity, it’s hard to even function in day-to-day life. You need help to develop resiliency, and we can work on that through helping you to develop ways to notice your feelings and calm them. You may have spent so much time trying to stifle your emotions or to get someone else to understand you that you haven’t yet learned how to identify your emotions and soothe yourself. We can work with that until it’s second nature for you to realize your feelings and to reach out when that will work, and to learn to self-soothe too. (Lots of clients tell me that my compassion for them becomes an internal presence for them quite quickly — and how rewarding it is to self-soothe through feeling the presence of someone else who cares for them!)

4. Helping you to build a life worth living. “Building a Life Worth Living” is a phrase I’m borrowing from Marsha Linehan, who developed dialectical behavioral therapy. DBT offers lots of ways for you to ground, cope, and navigate complex feelings and relationships so that you can do the work of learning who you are and you can build a life that you love to wake up to every day. Some of my clients find that they need tools to cope with trauma and emotional flashbacks. I offer tools for those too.

5. Helping you to heal from trauma. Many “borderlines” grew up in homes where their feelings were denied. You may have been much more sensitive than your parents were, and they may not have known how to teach you how to handle those emotions and express them in useful ways. You may have heard, “Toughen up!”, or “Stop crying,” or, “Why do you have to make such a big deal out of nothing?”

That, in itself, is a deep trauma that struck at the core of who you were, so you may have developed a “tough veneer” to avoid looking like things mattered — but beneath that veneer is still so much feeling that you’re not sure how to stand it.

Other traumas include outright abuse — sexual, physical, verbal, spiritual. This can occur in families, but also out on the school playground, or in churches — or in dating relationships or marriage.

Another trauma is that of the “borderline” label, which, while it can put some pieces together, can also be done in ways that are damaging. I’ve heard stories of counselors who waved off someone’s intense pain as okay to overlook because it was “just borderline manipulation.” I will take you seriously, and we’ll identify together where and why any “manipulation” comes in and how we can be direct with one another.

There’s hope of deep healing of BPD traits!

Many of the folks I work with start out with traits of this disorder, and I like working with people who struggle in these ways. Progress is often much faster than they expect once they have a relationship with me and some tools they can put to use right away. Most often, people feel like I really understand them and respect them in the first session.

People with bpd can overcome these symptoms. And when they do, they get in touch with that sensitivity and richness that was always there, and embrace them as gifts and traits to nurture. And they live lives full of purpose, joy, and deep emotion.

If you want to explore the possibility of working together for that, schedule a consultation with me today.

 

Group counseling

Group Counseling

Most of the people who are looking for help and healing have one major thing in common: They’re longing for a solid sense of connection. Common questions in therapy touch on this:

  • How can I hang onto who I am when I feel criticized?
  • Why don’t I have better, deeper, richer relationships?
  • Do other people experience what I’m talking about? Do I make sense?
  • I keep ending up in the same relationship patterns — I keep becoming the caretaker, or getting too needy, or ending relationships or having people fade away: What the heck is going on?
  • How do I come to feel worthy of love and connection?
  • How do I keep an open heart without being taken advantage of?
  • How can  I depend on other people when I’ve had to depend on myself my whole life?
  • Why do I get so anxious around other people? Will this ever stop?

Group therapy offers you powerful answers to these questions and more, in the form of experiences. In group, people come together on purpose, and they work together to build a sense of connection. In the kind of group I lead, you’re welcome to show up with your struggles, your yearnings, and your fears. The group helps you to put this stuff out there, and to be heard and responded to with genuineness and warmth.

A safe place to try something new

Often, our relationships are held back by us not knowing what’s okay to say, and what we need to keep hidden. Or our relationships end up in patterns that feel familiar, and we don’t know another way to act. Clients who are feeling stuck in these ways often say things like this:

  • I want to get closer to other people, but I don’t know when and how to open up.
  • I want to set boundaries, but I’m afraid I’ll be too harsh and I’ll lose people in my life. I need to know what to say and how to do this!
  • I wish I could stop taking care of other people so much, but I don’t know how to interrupt the pattern of everyone coming to me with their problems. It’s like I’ve trained people not to ask me about myself! So what now?
  • People say I’m standoffish, or too nice, or too needy — but I don’t know quite what that means. What am I doing, and what can I do instead?

In group, you get to try new things. You get to try on new behaviors, and practice saying the things you haven’t said to people in your world. You get to ask questions: “How am I coming across? What do you think of what I just said? Why do I feel like everyone is pulling back from me right now? I feel unheard, and I don’t know what to do.” In group, we make space for these questions, we make space for their answers, and we make space for you to fill in the gaps in your relationship experiences. If you tend to people-please, we help you to set kind boundaries. If you tend to disconnect, we help you to reconnect. If you do something that people find off-putting, we not only help you to identify what that is — but we help you to do something else that better meets your need and other people’s need for connection.

In my groups, I’ve had the privilege of seeing the healing power of community. When people deliberately come together for the purpose of connecting, amazing things happen.

“How do I sign up?”

If the stuff I’m talking about sounds like something you’re looking for, please contact me on my “Meet with me” page. Just schedule a consultation for my group — the consultation is free. I will want to meet with you one on one a couple times before the group, so we can talk over what the group entails, and so I can learn about you and what you’re working on. I’ve heard from group members that feeling safe with me first helped them to feel much safer in the group, much sooner. When you know that I’m attentive to your concerns and that I am here to support you in the group, it helps things a lot. So sign up for a consultation on the work with me page, and we’ll get that process of safety building started. You may opt to work with me one on one for some time before joining a group, or we may meet just a few times and get you started in group quite soon. We can find out what works best for you, together.

“When, where, and what’s the fee?”

My group will be meeting at my office, on 260 SW Madison Avenue (across from Many Hands Trading), in downtown Corvallis. I’ll fill you in on the details of when we meet in your consultation. I bill for group sessions by the month, and my current fee is $225 per month. This is less than half the cost of individual therapy, but many clients say that they get huge results from group work – they feel more confident in their relationships, more open, more able to set boundaries, and they stop feeling alone.

Schedule your meeting to discuss my group right here.

I look forward to meeting you!

 

 

 

 

Connection Survival Style: When longing is mixed with dread

A client walks into my office. She sits down, hunched over. Her face is pale. Her hands shake.

I say hi, and she says hello robotically almost, a fake smile covering her face. Then she looks down, away. Then stares at me, trying to keep eye contact. She’s heard, after all, that it’s only polite.

Her issues? They vary. People with the “connection survival style,” a phrase coined by Laurence Heller, often talk about a feeling of emptiness, and say, “I want to find out who I am.” Sometimes, they pride themselves on not needing anyone, but they are starting to feel twinges of longing, or they’re starting to develop a close relationship. Their sense of longing is becoming a fear, too, of being too much. Of losing their independence. Often, it’s a fear too old, too primal, to put into words.

She may have very well-rehearsed social skills. Or she may be huddled in her home most of the time, maybe spending most of her time with animals, or on nature trails. Whether she presents as sophisticated and poised or she presents as ill-at-ease, she’s likely dealing with the most fundamental of our emotional needs as an infant:

She didn’t get the level of connection she needed to really feel like she could be herself. She may not feel that she has a real self. She has been trying like mad to mirror others, in hopes that, by approximating the moves of connection, she’ll find her way in, find her way to being welcome.

At the same time, she’s terrified to reach out. Terrified to want. Terrified to connect.

Longing mingles with dread. Possibility and hope mingle with fear and despair.

She has a deep yearning for connection. But she fears connection too. Because it wasn’t dependable when she was young. Maybe her parents were ill, or preoccupied. Maybe they weren’t nice to her. Maybe they communicated to her, with their hurried way of tending to her young needs, that she was a burden.

Are you struggling with the connection survival style? Here are some indicators that you may be:

  • You feel like you don’t know who you really are.
  • You struggle with feelings of meaninglessness, emptiness.
  • You sometimes feel spacey, or like you’re floating, or disconnected somehow.
  • Other people feel foreign to you somehow, like you “don’t belong here”. Relationships don’t make intuitive sense. You don’t feel welcome or a part of things, no matter what. You may have learned lots of ways to compensate for this, but at heart, you feel like you’re acting somehow, going through the motions.
  • You experience unexplained fatigue, tension, and aches and pains.
  • You aren’t in touch with feelings of hunger and fullness. You may undereat or overeat, or forget to eat until painful hunger takes over, or until you’re physically weak.
  • You experience social anxiety.
  • You long for closeness to someone, but once you do get close, you get scared. Fear of abandonment creeps in, or anger at unmet needs, or you cycle between feeling exhilarated and disconnected.
  • You feel this underlying sense of dread in the pit of your stomach almost all. the. time. It may attach itself to different things happening in your life, but it seems wordless, sourceless, everpresent. Sometimes it’s a dull background feeling, and sometimes it almost overwhelms you.
  • You feel a lot of shame about wanting anything, about making yourself known, about speaking up — about many things. You may, deep down, feel ashamed for existing.

2 Subtypes of the connection style — or, in other ways, two common ways people escape the pain of their unmet connection needs:

  • Intellectualizing. You escape into the world of your thoughts.  If people ask you how you feel, you tell them what you think. If you start to feel something, you start working to think your way out of it. Maybe you analyze everything. Maybe people tell you you overthink things. When the longing in our hearts feels crushing, we go elsewhere: One place we can go to is the safe world of thinking. Maybe you’ve developed research skills, or hidden in the world of books. You probably have a great breadth of knowledge. But somehow, all that knowledge hasn’t brought you closer to knowing who you are.
  • Spiritualizing. If this is a way that you’ve worked to meet your connection needs, you are likely very sensitive to the spiritual world. While this is a gift and a resource, Laurence Heller also hypothesizes that you may be so skilled in picking up on spiritual things because it “has never felt safe to land on the planet.” Not feeling connected to people, you connect to God or spiritual beings instead.

Working with clients with the connection style is one of my favorite things. The fact that you are struggling with connection means that there are some basic unmet needs that go a long way back for you.

Here’s the good news:

We all have a fundamental need to connect, and we have the ability. You do too! The struggles you have just indicate that the need hasn’t been met for you. You didn’t get enough nurturing for you to quite land within your own body and your own experience.

Your shame isn’t based on a badness in you, even though it feels so deeply that way. It’s based on very young needs that went unmet. When those needs go unmet, we feel awful. If we feel awful for long enough, we start to give up hope, without being able to give up the need. If we give up the need, we start feeling that our need is bad. That we are unwelcome, unwanted, unlovable.

But that’s not the case. The case is that, for whatever reason, you didn’t get the nurturing you needed. Maybe you weren’t welcomed when you arrived on the planet, even, and so you didn’t get that basic message we all need when we’re born: “Hey, you’re here! And wow, you’re so delightful! Welcome to the family!” If you didn’t get that, you don’t feel welcome on the planet.

This can change. It takes time, it takes gentleness, and it takes patience. It takes a safe relationship. Some people find this through a pet, and then later on, they find a partner.

Some people find this first in therapy.

The connection survival style is a set of ways you learned to adapt, to survive, when your needs weren’t being met.

Now, the task is for you to connect to yourself, maybe for the first time. Sometimes, this starts with very simple things, like body awareness.

Often, we need a “safe enough other” in order to do this. A therapist who understands something about this survival style and how to work with your emotions, your body, your nervous system, and your spirituality — will have a good chance of helping you to navigate your way safely, gently, and gradually — into connection with yourself, and with others.

It’s beautiful work. Because the wounds of the connection survival style are preverbal, the therapy work we do around it is often difficult to put into words too.

But when people experience this work, they notice some things start to shift:

  • They start to feel a sense of safety, of welcome, first with me, and then with others.
  • They may notice changes in body temperature, like feeling warmer. Sometimes, they hadn’t noticed they felt cold! But the warmth, they notice.
  • They begin to notice and tend to their bodily signals, like hunger and tiredness.
  • They begin to reach out for connection with others, and to feel like it’s okay to do this!
  • They speak more easily. Some clients have told me that they had a throat constriction and that, in the course of this work, it loosens up.
  • They may even breathe more easily! When you’re unsure of yourself and your welcome, it can be like a trauma in your body. You may have tightened up, and you may be unconsciously holding your breath much of the time, or breathing shallowly. This work tends to help people to feel an openness in their chests, and to begin to breathe more deeply.
  • You feel settled, centered, calmer.
  • You start saying, “I would like….”, “I prefer….”, “I’m really feeling a longing for…..”
    And you can act on your wants and yearnings! Some clients say this gives their lives an organization that it’s never had before, that it’s like going from floating around waiting for things to happen to knowing what they want and feeling that, at least much of the time, they can make it happen.
  • Your shame diminishes, and as this happens, you get in touch with healthy anger. Anger helps you to set boundaries, to know when you’re not getting what you need, and to advocate for yourself.

The transformation in therapy with folks with the connection survival style is profound, as you can likely tell from this list.

This kind of work goes way beyond teaching you strategies or relationship skills. Clients who go through this work, and stay with it, say that they feel like they’ve finally come home. They say they feel like they know and like who they are.

They sometimes have difficulty putting into words how profound the changes are. But they do say that they can feel the shift in their bodies, in their emotions. Their loved ones say they too notice a deep difference.

You can experience profound shifts if you’re struggling with this style.

*This style and 3 others are explained in depth in Laurence Heller’s book, “Healing Developmental Trauma.” Laurence has offered a training called “NARM”, a method that combines Somatic Experiencing and relational work. Other people skilled in working with this style may have trainings like these:

-AEDP – Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy. An exquisite therapy model that lets you and your therapist develop a connection that feels good, safe, and right, and that can help to heal very young hurts.

-Internal Family Systems Therapy – Helps you to get to know and care for the different parts of yourself.

-Somatic Experiencing or Sensorimotor Psychotherapy – Both of these help you to release trauma that’s held in the body and in habitual postures. Somatic Experiencing tends to focus more on body sensations, whereas Sensorimotor Psychotherapy will more often focus directly on relational trauma and themes around connection.

The most important thing in finding a therapist is your own sense of safety and the sense that you want to develop a connection with that person. The therapist who is helpful to you may have none of these trainings, or some mix of them or similar ones!  I list these trainings because, if your therapy thus far hasn’t helped you, it might be time to find someone with focused knowledge in the area you’re struggling with. Hopefully, this list gives you a start in knowing what you might want to look for next!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety can be agonizing. It’s awkward! It’s hard to talk about. It makes you feel like you’re forever on the outside. It’s adrenalizing, but with no clear actions to take. And it’s exhausting as well.

  • Are you a professional that loves your job, but dreads lunch time or meetings with your coworkers?
  • Are you terrified when someone approaches you to talk?
  • Do you freeze up in conversations, and only later come up with what you wish you would have said?
  • Are you overly agreeable with people, forgetting what you think and feel because your social anxiety takes over and makes you forget your thoughts?
  • Do you go to social events, and then spend hours later wondering how you came across, cringing at something awkward you may have said or done?
  • Or do you try to nerve yourself up to go to a party or out with friends, but your anxiety won’t let you?
  • You know that, in order to have the relationships you want, you need to leave your house sometimes—but you’re scared, or suddenly so tired, or so wired, that it’s just too hard to get out.
  • You know that people like you pretty well, most of the time—but your worry gets in the way of you really feeling that.
  • You know you’d be happier if you could be around people without being so overwhelmed—but you haven’t found a way to do that.
  • You’re stuck in a habit of fear, pain, short-term relief when you avoid social situations—but longing for something more.
  • You see statuses of friends of yours on Facebook, and you notice groups of friends together, people out doing adventures you wouldn’t dare dream of—and you feel that old ache. You’re isolated.

Social anxiety does that. It’s isolating. It’s often connected to a feeling of shame — that somehow, there’s something indefinably wrong with you. This shame goes hand in hand with a fear of rejection. It eats away at your real connections. It makes you feel alone. It makes you STAY alone, perpetuating the feeling of aloneness.

People who feel social anxiety often try several things. Maybe you’ve tried telling yourself not to be anxious. This usually makes it worse!

  • Maybe you’ve tried to go into social situations anyway, and have found yourself feeling claustrophobic, afraid, and acting awkward because your anxiety keeps you from being natural.
  • Maybe you’ve tried staying home and telling yourself that you don’t care. That you’re just an introvert. That you don’t need people anyway.
  • Or you’ve tried some anxiety-management techniques: You take a deep breath, tell yourself it will be okay. Sometimes they help a little bit, but nothing seems to ease that deep, gnawing fear.

What’s it like when you’ve overcome your social anxiety?

! Here’s what the other side looks like:

  • You are confident, able to talk with anyone.
  • You can look people in the eye and say what you think.
  • You get home from work and ask yourself, “What would I like to do this evening?” And you have a genuine choice about whether to stay home, go to dinner with friends, or take your colleague up on her coffee invitation.
  • You go home at the end of a party or a meal out and just do what’s next on your to do list, or just take a rest—without all the rumination about what you said and how you came across.
  • You’re able to just be yourself in situations, and know for sure that you are enough.

And then other things start happening:

  • An acquaintanceship becomes a friendship, then a deeper friendship.
  • You start an activity that you fall in love with.
  • You can laugh off the kind of awkward interactions that used to upset you.

And you have more energy than you’ve had before. It’s one of the most common things my clients mention when their social anxiety diminishes — they realize that their anxiety was exhausting! Not only did it deplete your physical energy, it fed other physical pains as well — headaches, neck and back pain, an upset stomach, and just feeling generally stiff and riled.

Once you have more energy, you’ll notice how tired you used to be.  You have the energy and the motivation to think, plan, dream, and come up with ideas and plans that you couldn’t even imagine before.

Self help strategies for social anxiety

There are several things that can help you to change your anxiety. Working through and past any toxic shame you’ve been holding is one of the most transformative ways to work with it.

And then, of course, there are management tools for in the meantime:

Breathing.

Orienting to what’s happening both within and around you.

Learning how much interaction you can handle, and giving yourself outs when you need them.

Planning in advance for social situations, and figuring out what helps you the most.

Finding a friend or two that you can talk with about your anxiety — friends who won’t try to fix it, or frantically try to calm you, but who will listen and empathize and maybe remind you of your neat qualities and why you’re fun to hang out with.

Simple self-care stuff — drinking water. Letting your nutrition nourish your energy and ease your jangled nerves.

Giving yourself plenty of time and space to unwind, journal, take a hike — do things that nourish you and your mind and body.

And gently taken, incremental, mindful risks. Like hanging out with two friends in a slightly more crowded place than usual. Or like extending a conversation with a colleague just by two minutes beyond the norm. Or saying “Hi” to people you see on your walk.

Simple things can add up, and help a lot over time.

My favorite therapies for social anxiety

I’ve used several approaches with clients with social anxiety. The ones that have worked best for my clients are:

  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and somatic experiencing techniques (two similar methods). Anxiety affects every part of the body, and noticing and working with the reactions in the body (rather than pretending it’s all in the brain) is very powerful.
  • Relationship-oriented therapy. We start with eliminating any anxiety you feel working with a therapist, and expand your comfort zone from there.
  • Working with feelings of shame that sometimes underlies the fear.
  • Trauma therapy techniques that focus on building a sense of safety in the moment.
  • Honorable mention: Hypnotherapy. It’s not my go-to technique these days, but I’ve used it to help clients with social anxiety, and it works quite well.

You don’t have to be hobbled by social anxiety, and you don’t need to forever merely “manage” the symptoms.

When you work through social anxiety, you see the whole world differently. Moreover, you are a part of it. You belong, and you know it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marsha Marsha Marsha! BPD Video Series

I’ve recently taken a big interest in reading and listening to Marsha Linehan, the creator of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Her book, “Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder, gives many insights and gems into this little-understood diagnosis. I like her practicality and her interest in what actually leads to this “disorder,” and more importantly, how to help folks in deep distress to find a way out of their agony. And she’s clear that it is emotional agony that folks with bpd often are going through. And that these problems can be solved. Life can become worth living, and relationships can become not only workable, but deep and rewarding.

So I’m doing a video series on some of the coolest things Marsha says. Because this is a book worth talking about! And also because it makes me think about tools and resources that can help people with the issues she’s discussing. Here are the videos:

Marsha Linehan’s Words on BPD and Demystifying the “Manipulative Suicide Gesture”

Some stupid stuff the DSM said about BPD, and why Marsha says it misses the point sometimes:

Understanding Relationship Triggers, Splitting, and the “Eternal Now” — and One Way to Prevent the Feelings Being So Overwhelming:

How to Support Your Clingy/Demanding Loved One [Video]

When someone in your life seems to need more and more from you, it can push some buttons, especially if they are needy in a way that is hostile at the same time! People who display these behaviors are often missing a sense of security in relationships. Sometimes people with these behaviors are labeled “BPD” (borderline personality disorder), sometimes not, because one aspect of BPD is insecurity in relationships. The concepts I talk about aren’t BPD-specific at all.

For reasons you’ll easily perceive, they’ve also experienced lots of abandonment, and they’re now experiencing a self-fulfilling prophecy that goes like this:

  1. I’m terrified that I’m too much for people, and will be abandoned.
  2.  I feel so frightened of being left that I need someone to be here for me ALL THE TIME, and I need to keep testing if they’re here for me. (Possibly by being obnoxious to see if they’ll stay.)
  3. I have, once again, been abandoned, so now I feel that all my deepest fears are confirmed.

This cycle can change, though, particularly if this person is interested in seeking help/self-reflecting. You can change how it impacts your relationship with them by changing the script. If you don’t do everything they’re demanding you do, but you also don’t leave them, it might give them a new sense of equilibrium in the relationship with you.

You can reclaim the space you need, and help that relationship in your life move forward, by using this structure outlined in “Stop Walking on Eggshells.” It’s a three step process:

  1. Offer support. Particularly, let the person know that you’re there for him/her. You care.
  2. Offer empathy. Say, “I can see how hard it’s been for you lately,” or “I see how much you’re struggling, and I can’t even imagine how hard it’s been.”
  3. Tell the truth. Here’s where you state your boundary. “I’m available to talk with you after I’m done with work at 5 pm,” or “I can stay in this conversation with you only if you stop threatening me.

Boundaries are going to help the person know where your limits are, and if you’ve given heartfelt support, the boundary is more likely to be well-received.

And boundaries will help you to keep your sanity, so you’re available for your life and for all the relationships that matter to you.

Are your Worst Feelings Actually Emotional Flashbacks? [Video]

What is an emotional flashback?

Emotional flashbacks are feelings in the moment that go back to times in childhood where you felt defective, helpless, abandoned, or despairing. They can be tricky to identify, because unlike a specific flashback with specific images, you experience very strong feelings of self-hatred, shame, abandonment, invisibility, or rage. And they’re not linked to any one specific memory.

Here’s a video I’ve made on feelings like hopelessness and the feeling that you’re unlovable, and identifying the possibility that you’re having a flashback. Or if you’re looking for strategies to try right now, scroll further down and find my video that gives you three ways to work with an emotional flashback right now.

Times that you felt despair, shame, rage, futility, a sense of being abandoned or unworthy may be signaling a powerful feeling memory of what it was like for you when you were small.  Because these flashbacks often seem to be related to the present moment, identifying the intensity of your feelings as an emotional flashback is an important piece to healing.

When People Are Having Emotional Flashbacks…

Here are some things people tend to feel and do when experiencing emotional flashbacks:

They Feel Toxic Shame

You get this sense that you are not okay. Everything about you starts to feel pathetic, or worthless, or simply not good enough. Shame is a sense that there’s something wrong with you, something wrong with who you are. It makes sense that a sense of being so worthless would propel this next step:

They criticize themselves, Viciously!

This part of you, this inner critic, says you’re not worth it, you’re not good enough, that you never should have tried, or that you have no right to your feelings and thoughts. This critic often echoes the contempt people received in childhood. This critic demolishes your sense of self-esteem. This leads to the next issue:

They Abandon Themselves, Recreating Early Abandonments

You give in to your inner critic, and you give up on yourself. Some folks abandon themselves through “spacing out”, taking care of other people compulsively (without regard for their own needs), getting into destructive or dependent relationships, turning to food or sleep to dull their feelings, or turning to addictions. Giving up on yourself can be accompanied by suicidal ideation, compulsion/addiction, depression, and giving into the wishes of others to the exclusion of your own needs.

Fear of relationships/social situations

This fear of interaction with other people makes sense when you never developed the sense that you were okay, that people liked you, and that you were worth people’s time and attention.

Emotional Flashbacks Can be Stopped, and You Can Heal!

If these symptoms sound familiar to you, there’s hope for you! Pete Walker coined the term, “emotional flashback,” and he says:

First, the good news about CPTSD [complex PTSD]: It is a learned set of responses, and a failure to complete numerous important developmental tasks. This means that it is environmentally, not genetically, caused. In other words, unlike most of the diagnoses it is confused with, it is neither inborn nor characterlogical. As such, it is learned. It is not inscribed in your DNA. It is a disorder caused by nurture (or rather the lack of it), not nature.

Pete Walker, from Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving.

Here’s a video I did on ways you can work with an emotional flashback right in the moment you’re experiencing it. You might want to bookmark this page or favorite the video on Youtube so you can find it at a moment’s notice!

 

I work with clients from around the world via Skype video, and locally here in Oregon. Clients suffering from emotional flashbacks express great relief once they understand that they’re not bad or crazy, and that their troubled emotions and relationships make sense. Once you know that you’re NOT crazy or defective, you can start the work of healing.  Healing is deeply rewarding, because as you learn to let go of toxic shame, to challenge your inner critic, to notice when you’re in an emotional flashback (and find your way out), you get to feel at home with yourself.  Life looks different. Your anxiety diminishes, your energy increases, and you gain a sense of love, belonging, and safety.

Healing can begin to occur in a safe relationship, often with a good therapist. Read my article about feeling safe in therapy.  People recover from complex trauma every day. To recover, you’ll need to develop self-compassion, challenge your inner critic, and learn to care for the child you once were. As you recover, you develop a sense that you’re okay, that you can be safe, and that you’re worth it. You stop abandoning yourself and learn to embrace who you are. Healing happens one step at a time.

 Examples of Emotional Flashbacks

Here are examples of emotional flashbacks I’ve seen:

  • Mary comes to a session convinced that I won’t like her, that no one can like her. When we talk about these feelings, it becomes apparent that, even though I and many other people like her, there’s a part of her that keeps remembering the feelings of helplessness and shame and replaying the voices of her parents saying, “No one will ever want to be your friend.”
  • Thomas tells me he “freaks out” every time his fiance looks at him a certain way. When he remembers what “that look” reminds him of, he recalls the sense of impending doom he had as a child when his stepfather gave him a certain look before beating him.
  • Rose can’t stand for someone on the phone to say it’s time for them to go. It brings her back to a time in her childhood where she felt all alone.
  • When Harry hears that his boss wants to talk to him, he immediately panics and believes that he’s going to be reprimanded. When we talk it through, he realizes that he’s flashing back to a time that his mother saying, “Let’s have a talk” could only mean bad things.

Dealing with Emotional Flashbacks

How do you resolve an emotional flashback? First, you recognize the likelihood that it is a flashback.

  1. Recognizing your emotional flashbacks for what they are can save your sense of sanity. By recognizing these feelings as coming from the past, you can begin to let go of the fear or anguish now, and to be compassionate with yourself as you deal with the feelings from then.
  2. Recognize that you are safe now. When you were young, these experiences could feel life-threatening. But now, you’re in an adult body with adult resources. You’re safe now. You might check out my flashback halting protocol video for a format for noticing safety in the here and now.
  3. Understand your flashback as a message from a child part of yourself. This part still needs care and attention and validation, and didn’t get it when you were young. Now is the time to hear that child’s message. Rather than fixating on the current situation, focus on the feeling and tend to that child within.
  4. Recognize that this flashback will pass, and life will look different then. When you’re in the midst of one of these flashbacks, they can feel eternal. Worse, a part of you may criticize you or shame you, and these criticisms can feel like utter truth when you feel this way. They’re not truth. I promise! Right now, take care of you.
  5. Become an expert in emotional flashbacks. The more you know, the more empowered you’ll feel, and having the words to put to what’s going on will to keep you from getting stuck in a feeling. You can find stuff on my website and youtube channel, of course! 🙂
  6. And you can look at stuff that the guy who coined the term “Emotional Flashback” has written. His name is Pete Walker, and he offers a lot of useful information, written very compassionately. Here’s a link to his website, with articles that might interest you right on the left column.
  7. Realize that you can heal from this stuff. A relationship with someone who has compassion and a clue will help a lot, especially if the inner critic or feelings of shame keep taking over your thoughts and feelings, despite your best efforts. So consider seeking help from someone familiar with this stuff. If you already have a support network (Lots of people struggling with this stuff don’t yet have that, and that can change over time!), find someone safe to start sharing a little bit of this stuff with. And if you don’t yet have that, you might seek help from a counselor. One with compassion, and hopefully one who knows some of this stuff and can help guide you to a sense of self-compassion and curiosity. One you can connect with over time. One who can offer you a bit of a roadmap to where you are and where you can go. One who can, most importantly, offer genuineness and compassion in a way that will help you feel those things toward yourself more and more.

 

 

 

 

 

Counseling for Highly Sensitive People

What’s it like to be highly sensitive?

Sensitive and gifted people notice and feel more than they can sometimes consciously deal with at once. Their relationships, their ability to follow through, their energy, are all affected by how well they know themselves, and how well they’ve learned to honor their sensitivity.

It can  feel overwhelming, if you’re sensitive, just to go about daily life, because so many “simple” things affect you so profoundly. The feeling you have about a remark made to you may reverberate within for hours or days, or you may find yourself getting irritable at things that others barely notice. Being highly sensitive is a great gift, but it can also be hard work!

Sensitivity can also be wonderful once you know how to honor it!

Being highly sensitive or gifted can be a gift, allowing you to deeply appreciate life and feelings on deep levels.

It can  feel overwhelming, if you’re sensitive, just to go about daily life, because so many “simple” things affect you so profoundly. The feeling you have about a remark made to you may reverberate within for hours or days, or you may find yourself getting irritable at things that others barely notice. Being highly sensitive is a great gift, but it can also be hard work!

Common Ways Sensitive People Manage Their Sensitivity:

‘ve worked with lots of highly sensitive people. And I’ve noticed that there are two or three types of people I meet with who are highly sensitive. You might see yourself in one of these profiles. Or maybe you swing between different styles at different times.

1. The first is the highly sensitive person that, pretty much, everyone knows is emotional. If you’re like this, people may call you sentimental, emotional — maybe romantic and kind. You may be seen as very empathic, a shoulder to lean on. You might laugh and cry easily, and you wear your emotions on your sleeve.

2. There’s another way people cope with sensitivity, though. And that’s by putting up great big walls around themselves. If you’ve done this, people around you probably have no idea how deeply you feel things. In fact, YOU may have lost touch with this as well. People wall of their sensitivity when it gets too painful to hold, when no one around them seems to understand their reactions, or when there’s just no way to deal with all the pain besides to wall it off for awhile.

If you’re like this, you’re among my most rewarding people to work with, because, once we start getting to know who you really are beneath that “blank” or “shy” front, we get to discover great vibrance in you, great feeling. People like this describe therapy as going from living in black and white to living in color.

3. The “ice queen” is the third way I’ve seen folks with high sensitivity present. Let’s say you’ve got all these emotions going on, but people have taken advantage of you and your tenderness. So what do you do? Some people decide, on some level, that they’re going to be in control from now on. These clients frankly seem a bit like bullies when we first meet! They can be vindictive toward people in their lives, can turn people away at a moment’s notice, and come across cold. But when someone sees me and acts this way, it’s usually the case that they’re not really so cold or heartless, not deep down. They’ve just learned to act like this so everything would quit hurting them so darn much.

The good news is, again, that high sensitivity is a great gift. And that you can learn to live and thrive with it. It takes some time, and it takes respect for those pieces of yourself that you’ve learned to wall off.

But it does get better.

You know what else? Once you learn how to honor your sensitivity and use it to energize you and guide your actions, some of those “symptoms” you’ve had are likely to fade. Like that sadness, or that feeling of emptiness, or that anger that just comes up and takes over.

You’ve guarded your sensitivity as best you could. Now, it might be time to get help to learn how to honor it and use it like the gift it really is.

Want help with that?

You can schedule a consultation with me here.

If you’re sensitive, you’ll probably find me one of the easiest people for you to talk with yet. Because I get sensitivity, and I know how to help you to honor both the feelings within you and the ways you’ve learned to mask them. I’ll respect both the feelings and the mask or wall you’ve put up.

And I’ll help you to learn to have a sense of control over your own emotions and relationships.

Contact me here.

Am I the right counselor for you?

  • Work with me from anywhere in the world over Skype or Zoom video
  • See me in person in Corvallis, Oregon.

Not every counselor, not even every good counselor, is the right counselor for you. It depends partly on the therapist’s skills and even more on compatibility, fit, resonance.

Does this sound like you?

Most of my successful clients have things in common. If you’re like them, I may well be the right counselor for you:

  • You are highly sensitive.
  • You feel a lot of shame.
  • You have talked your way through therapy before, without deep change happening.
  • You suspected you were too smart for your other therapists.
  • Your other therapists were too nice or too cold.
  • You have a lot of compassion for others, but are much harder on yourself.
  • You were abandoned or betrayed.
  • You have sometimes doubted your own worth or your own reality.
  • You dream of doing really cool things, but you have difficulty either taking on new projects or finishing them.
  • Your close relationships are still difficult.
  • Any of these:
    • Parts of your childhood left you feeling frightened, alone, or unwanted.
    • You don’t remember much from your childhood.
    • Your childhood was fine but you have responses or feelings as if it weren’t.
  • You are the rock for others in your life, but no one is your rock.

Did you answer yes to more than three of these questions? (Or answer a very strong yes to even one or two?) If so, I’d love to meet you. I love working with people like you!

Would you like to meet me? Read these testimonials, all from actual clients in their actual words. Then click here to schedule our initial consultation.

If you’re needing to get past challenges, get unstuck, honor your sensitivity and smarts, and pursue the life and relationships you really want, I’d like to meet you!

What it’s like to with me

What my counseling clients say:

“I can’t believe how much easier it is for me now. I can get through the day without crying. I can go to work. I can talk to people. I haven’t felt this good in a long, long time!”

“I was beyond burnt out on therapy before I met you, and never would have come to see you if we hadn’t met by chance. But I’m so glad I did meet with you, because you changed my idea of therapy, and showed me that I’m not just a ‘set of symptoms,’ and that there are things that can help me. I finally know how to keep my peace instead of going into a rage. I never would have thought this was possible before we met!”

“It’s like there was this sense of being blocked — like concrete in my heart somehow. I can feel the concrete melting now. I’m crying, but with relief this time.”

“I used to feel like I needed other people to take care of me, and I felt so desperate. It was a need that never felt like it eased up, and I had parts inside that wouldn’t work together. Now, it’s like the parts are along with me, and we’re working together. I feel like I can take care of myself now, like I have support from inside.”

“At the end of our work together, I know I’ve come a long way. And I enjoyed our work, too! And I love how many approaches you use, and how you’re always learning new things and bringing them to our work. It kept the work so fluid and dynamic. We did hypnosis, and I had big breakthroughs.  When we used EMDR techniques, that hugely helped me. The therapy that worked with my body helped me to feel a sense of boundaries and  solidity in myself. And your empathy helped me to feel what I was feeling, to stop suppressing my emotions.
My relationships are better. I know what I want, and I can say it. I’m taking care of myself, and all the parts of me are working together.

I know I’m ready to move forward. I was stuck, and you helped me to get unstuck!”

“When I first came to see you, I had an injury that wouldn’t heal and was going to need surgery. After what we did together, it started healing. I just went to the doctor, and not only do I no longer need surgery, I no longer need to wear a cast!”

I feel like you ‘get me’, and you know ways to help me to move through and past things that have been holding me back for a long time. I finally know how to keep my peace instead of going into a rage. I never would have thought this was possible before we met!”

“I know it’s safe in here because your words, your posture, your laugh — they all tell me it’s really okay to bring all of me here. It’s a sense of safety I’ve needed for a long time.”

“I suddenly had this epiphany — this realization — that most people are safe. Most people mean well. I hadn’t felt that before. I’d always been on guard without even knowing it.

I used to be so hard on myself. Now, I can catch myself starting to do that, and I imagine your compassion. Your compassion for me is helping me to be compassionate toward myself, and that changes things for me.”

“My energy is coming back, and I can focus now. With the things I’ve learned, I can settle myself and focus. I’m so much calmer at work, and that’s making my time there much more productive!”

“My boss gave me a piece of feedback, and before, I would have just shut down and felt angry at her — and like a failure inside. This time, I saw her feedback as a true gift, and I was able to take it in and make real improvements. She noticed the difference!”

“My partner and I got into an argument again, but I was able to calm down so much more quickly and speak so that he could hear me. He said this is the first time he’s seen me so at ease, and it’s so much easier for us to talk!”

All these words above are from clients of mine, folks who started out feeling unsure of themselves. Some of them had to work hard to get themselves to therapy! But they did schedule to see me, and they followed through. For some clients, coming to counseling is a leap of faith, or an act of honoring themselves even when they’re not sure yet that they can get better.

See Me in Face-to-Face or Over Internet Video

My counseling office is in downtown Corvallis, Oregon, so I am also within easy reach of Philomath, Albany, Lebanon, Monroe, Monmouth, and the surrounding areas.

And I see clients from around the world via Skype or Zoom video. See my online counseling page.

I'm ready for practical, interactive counseling!

 

Get more tips and information

To learn more, keep looking around! If what you’ve read and seen has connected with  you,  follow me on social media and/or subscribe to my newsletter! I put videos regularly on YouTube, and you can also find my latest stuff on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus — just use the social media icons you see on the screen to pick how you’d like to get your information!

Michaela Lonning
260 SW Madison Ave, Suite 104-5
Corvallis Oregon 97333

(541)224-6732

michaela@michaelas-counseling.com