Emotions are body sensations that occur in response to a stimulus. We are biologically wired to have them because they help us not only survive, but thrive. They are our body’s cue to us that something is worth paying attention to. Emotions are, in essence, messengers. However, we live in a society that sends the message that emotions are weak, immature or out of control. As a result, many of us learn from a young age to suppress emotions like sadness, anger, fear and even joy. Doing so comes at great cost to our wellbeing and our relationships. When we continually push our emotions down, our nervous systems suffer. Overtime, this can lead to feelings of depression or anxiety that won’t go away, and a sense of disconnection from our truest self.
When we’re out of touch with our emotions, there’s a good chance we feel out of touch with our true selves. Engaging in behaviors that work to block emotions in the short term—like excessive substance use, eating disordered behavior or even tuning out on social media —often start generating long-term consequences. We feel lost in our lives and unable to fully connect in our relationships. We spend a lot of time in our heads thinking about the past and future, but not a lot of time in our bodies in the present. While we might not always want to act on our emotions in the moment, we need to be able to process them through to completion in order to feel fully connected to ourselves. Operating day-to-day at a disconnect from our emotions is like heading out on a hike without any trail markings. We might be walking along a beautiful trail, but we are not able to feel a sense of ease or joy in our surroundings because we are so anxious as to whether we are moving in the right direction.
Therapy can help you understand and process your emotions in a new way. We’ll work together to see what you’ve learned about emotions, what behaviors you’ve been engaging in to block overwhelming emotions, and focus on helping you get in touch with these emotions in the present. Overtime, making space for our emotions and their accompanying physical sensations in the present creates new neural networks in the brain that decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression and trauma. These new neural networks help us get a felt sense in our bodies of what it means to trust our own internal experiences as a helpful tool for valued living. From there, we can use them as a guide to make choices in our lives that align with who we are and what we truly want.
I have advanced training in both Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) and Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). Both AEDP and EFT focus on our present moment emotional experience, and the difficulties that arise when we judge our emotional experience, try to think our way out of it, or block it altogether. AEDP and EFT are based in attachment-theory, which essentially says we do the things for reasons that makes sense based on our personal and family histories. I believe in this whole-heartedly and make it a point to never shame or judge my clients (since I know we are all doing the best we can at any given time). I also believe in being with my clients in a real way, and I share my experience with them openly and authentically. If you want a therapist who will be in it with you from start to finish (and isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves), then we might just be a fit.