Jane and Beth help people still
their minds so that their souls can flourish.”
— Dr. Dan Gottlieb,
Radio Host for NPR “Voices in the Family,”
Philadelphia Inquirer Columnist, Author
Psychotherapy: Individual, Couples and Family Therapy
We met in the elevator of the Child Guidance Clinic of Philadelphia, while taking a master’s class in family therapy. We’ve been the closest of friends and colleagues since that day in 1984. Through extensive work in the areas of trauma, abuse, shame, and eating disorders, we have come to understand a lot about the human condition, the resilience of the spirit and the process of healing.
We are both known for our ability to simplify complex human dilemmas, communicate clearly and directly, boost people’s self-confidence and promote emotional and relational health and well-being.
With more than 35 years of experience in cultivating our clinical skills, we both draw from many disciplines in order to help people make changes that improve their life conditions.
We are nationally recognized as experts in our field, known for helping clients claim their strengths, overcome their resistance to change, expand their perceptions and mobilize forward movement. Our work recognizes that negative self-talk, the voice of the Inner Critic, is a powerful inhibitor of success. In the process of psychotherapy, we expand people’s skills for positive self-talk, boost resilience, fortify self-esteem and strengthen the healthy core that lives within each of us.
Trauma & How We Work With It
What is Trauma?
“People have a range of capacities to deal with overwhelming experience. Some people, some kids particularly, are able to disappear into a fantasy world, to dissociate, to pretend like it isn’t happening, and are able to go on with their lives. And sometimes it comes back to haunt them.” – Bessel van der Kolk, MD, a clinical psychiatrist whose work attempts to integrate mind, brain, body, and social connections to understand and treat trauma.
“Traumatic events produce profound and lasting changes in physiological arousal, emotion, cognition, and memory.” -Judith Herman, MD, known for coining the term complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“Trauma symptoms are not caused by the dangerous event itself . They arise when residual energy from the event is not discharged from the body. This energy remains trapped in the nervous system where it can wreck havoc on our bodies and our minds.” -Diane Poole Heller, PhD,expert in the field of Adult Attachment Theory and Models, trauma resolution and integrative healing techniques.
What Constitutes Trauma?
With the word trauma being used so loosely how do we know what it actually means anymore? In this video, Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, explains that trauma is specifically an event that overwhelms the central nervous system, altering the way we process and recall memories. He also differentiates between “single incident” PTSD and the impact of disorganized attachments and abusive early environments.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), amongst the world’s leading treatment for emotional, sexual and physical trauma, is a powerful tool for releasing disruptive symptoms that often result from trauma or abuse. Through a simple process, negative symptoms lessen, and at times disappear completely, allowing for restoration of health and function.
EMDR reduces symptoms of anxiety, hyper-vigilance, shame, pain, distrust, and other common responses to trauma. It is based on the theory of associative memory, suggesting that traumatic events (small level traumas, as well as large level traumas) activate sensory experiences (body sensations, thoughts & emotions) which get fragmented and stored in the emotional control center of the brain. It is as though there were a chip in the brain’s limbic system, secretly holding emotional and physiological memory from traumatic experience that can activate a person to re-experience feelings and sensations associated with the past. Once symptoms are triggered, an individual can become emotionally hijacked, feel helpless and experience heightened levels of fright. The process of working with EMDR helps to reduce the intrusive and harmful symptoms resulting from traumatic experiences and restore calm, trust and balance back to the body and mind.
For more information: What is EMDR
See this video of Bessel van der Kolk on EMDR:
Somatic Experience (SE)
Trauma is not an even that happened, but an experience that has overwhelmed the nervous system.
Our nervous system is designed to handle extreme stress and danger by mobilizing huge amounts of energy to fight or escape from a source or threat of danger. If we successfully fight or flee from the danger, we release that energy. If we are trapped in the traumatic experience with no successful way out, the energy gets stuck in our nervous system and we may experience physical and/or mental symptom that we call traumatic responses (panic attacks, phobias, flashbacks night sweats, a racing heart, inability to concentrate, confusion, dissociation or persistent anxiety and depression).
Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a gentle yet powerful psychotherapy process that helps the nervous system discharge the stuck energy. It is a talking therapy that guides the mind and body to release trapped tension and anxiety that resulted from the traumatic experience and it uses the body’s natural resilience to return to a state of calm.
For more information: About Somatic Experiencing
See this video of Peter Levine on Somatic Experiencing: Trauma, Somatic Experiencing