Internal Family Systems Theory

One of the ways I approach therapy is by utilizing the Internal Family Systems theory, which was developed by Richard Schwartz. This model suggests that we all have a core SELF that we can learn to access, and in doing so; we create an “internal relationship” with this SELF. 

This leads to a better sense of balance and integrates the part of ourselves that offer leadership and wisdom with the parts of ourselves that are out of balance and dysfunctional. The parts of yourself that sabotage connection to Self-leadership were developed to help you cope with life’s stressful challenges. While these parts might have helped you at one time to manage and survive, they may be sabotaging your best interests in the here and now. 

Knowing The Self And Knowing The Story

I believe that as we uncover our “Inner-child,” our “Inner-teenager,” and develop a stronger “Divine Mother” and “Divine Father” archetype within us, we succeed in walking in our true nature. Knowing that we ARE Soul, rather than thinking that we HAVE a Soul, brings us face to face with the true nature within us.

We are a whole person containing many archetypical characters within the nature of the Soul. The “Knowing of the Self” is perhaps one of the single most important drives within us. This also occurs within the experience of our “Life Story.”

We are the creator of our own Narrative. What we have experienced can be altered, transformed, embellished, tweaked, and brought into a world of balance. The idea of knowing your Soul’s Story by developing a relationship with the characters, gives us control and power to create successful patterns and outcomes for one’s Life Journey. Externalizing this Story and the major characters, i.e.: the shadow, the hero, the critic, the victim, the advocate, the inner mother or father etc., will aid one in actualizing the Self and bring an awareness to the integrated Soul.

Often we find ourselves in conflict with others or with our own inner “parts” that sabotage our goals and needs. By developing a greater relationship with this understanding and by increasing our conscious connection to these underlying motives and patterns, we will free ourselves from their destructive influences and move ourselves into wholeness.


What is Somatic Experiencing®?

Somatic Experiencing® is a neurophysical understanding of trauma. The nervous system becomes compromised during and after a trauma event due to the result of the body's “threat response.” The nervous system then, cannot regulate itself without intervention. When we bring curiosity and attention to the body’s sequence of “states not fully processed,” then individuals can shift neuro patterns and symptoms abate.

Somatic Experiencing® uses methods that develop awareness similar to the use of mindfulness and integrates a “Wakeful Witness” that remains available to the individual. Treatment focuses on awakening this inner “Witness” so that integration can occur, decreasing the dissociated parts of Self and bringing a return to a state of well being.    

Trauma can be understood as anything that has a lasting negative effect (conscious or unconscious) on a person's mind, body, or spirit, including emotional neglect and abandonment as well as overt abuse or even invasive medical procedures and/or accidents. 

Dr. Peter Levine on Trauma

Dr. Peter Levine reports, "No one can heal effectively and efficiently from emotional, physical or spiritual pain and suffering without involving the body." Dr. Levine teaches that trauma is not in the event that took place, but in how un-discharged “fight, flight, and freeze” threat-responses were activated during that event, and then stored within the nervous system. The holding of this powerful energy, unexpressed, is what creates the array of symptoms associated with complex trauma and/or PTSD. 

Even though clients have a strong need to tell someone the story of what happened, just telling the "Story," does not change it. What seems to happen is that we continue needing to "tell" the story over and over again, often getting "stuck in the loop" without shifting the impact that it has had on us. I am committed to an integrated body-centered approach to treatment. This heals the roots of trauma and integrates the mind and body's reactive patterning. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Teen Extremes: Regulating Moods in the Age of Anxiety - What is DBT?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavioral treatment that was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It also is effective in treating many other disorders such as PTSD, Depression, Eating Disorders, Self-harm and Substance Dependence. It has been useful in supporting the treatment of adolescent mood swings and the various symptoms that seem problematic during the adolescent life. This method emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of treatment.

Katharine Knapp does not offer a FULL DBT program, to do so would mean a Team approach and would include a skills group meeting once a week, a team of therapists meeting once a week, as well as individual and family (or parenting) sessions once a week.  Instead, Katharine utilizes the principles of DBT within her individual and group therapy. All Teenage Girls Groups focus on DBT skills. Most individual therapy sessions with teens include DBT skills learning.

The use of Emotional Regulation, Distress Tolerance, Mindfulness, and Interpersonal Effectiveness the primary principles from the DBT model. These offer a focus for treatment with most teens.

This theory suggests that some people have intense reactivity within their relationships (romantic, family, friends). These people often have nervous systems that react quickly, reach a high-intense emotional level, and take a much longer time to return to their baseline. These people then appear to view their world and their relationships as either/or and in black/white shades. Teens often experience life this way. Not all teens have Borderline Personality Disorder, but often show symptoms of jumping from crisis to crisis and live their life through the lens of high intense reactivity. This is why utilizing DBT can be so beneficial to treating teenage mental health issues. In a world that seldom validates teens (especially those who are emotionally reactive), DBT offers methods and skills for coping with these sudden intense surges of emotional dysregulation. 

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