I’m not afraid of storms,
for I’m learning how
to sail my ship.
~Louisa May Alcott
Michelle specializes in providing therapy for the symptoms of trauma. Many people who experience something like an assault, or a car accident can go on to develop PTSD. Others may not have a single overwhelming event, but may have lived for many years in an environment that was not safe. If you are attached to someone who is also hurtful and unpredictable, the PTSD is more complex, and you may have been told that you have anxiety or suffer from “chronic depression” or even have medical conditions that are hard to treat or impossible to diagnose. Symptoms of trauma can range from annoying to debilitating and even life altering. Your therapy will be a collaborative effort to obtain your history and identify treatment goals. We will work together to identify and minimize your automatic responses to triggers and help your brain to understand that it is "remembering" and not currently in danger. As the brain calms down and learns a new way to remember an event, it actually changes itself, and the need for therapy decreases. Therapy for trauma is often done in conjunction with your current therapist or life coach, and can be short term in some cases. Many clients find that an intensive session of several hours, or a few weeks of focused therapy can be helpful in reducing symptoms. In other cases, if trauma has occurred over a lifetime in a variety of ways, therapy may need to be longer term.
Michelle provides a unique educational option for people who have symptoms associated with being in a relationship with a pathological personality. “Pathological” is defined as anyone low in or lacking in empathy, and skilled at manipulating others for their own purposes. Survivors of this type of abuse experience a wide variety of symptoms, to include depression, anxiety, intrusions of thoughts or memories into their daily life, and toxic shame. The seminar can drastically shorten the course of therapy because it delivers the education needed in one day, and it provides “universality” in that one is not alone in their type of abuse. This can be very helpful to a survivor of abuse inside of a relationship that should have provided safety, support and nurturing as their reality has often been denied or they have been called “”too sensitive.” Abuse can include but is not limited to: emotional neglect from a caregiver, sexual or physical abuse, ritual abuse, controlling behaviors and emotional abuse by a spouse or partner. For more information: Click here. To be involved in a group of people like yourself who are struggling with similar trauma not only increases your own understanding of the distress around the wounds but also increases your access to the solutions available for moving on and healing from trauma. Please contact Michelle for more information. A client intake session, or a referral and consult with your therapist is required to determine suitability for the seminar.
Please click here for current information on group therapy.
Sessions are 50 minutes long and are billed at $130. “Intensives” are 3-4 hours in length, with breaks and are billed at $130 an hour. Seminars are $200 for the full 4 hour day. Appointments cancelled or changed 24 hours prior to appointment time will not incur the $50 service charge. Invoices can be provided to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement.
Individual counseling, or therapy, is about finding the right style and fit for the client to help them navigate the storm, whether it be a present stressor or a past trauma.
Knowing what you feel, and why, and most importantly, what to do about it to feel better instead of worse, is no easy task. You may have been told you are “overreacting” or that it will be “OK” when it certainly doesn’t feel true to you. Some people are naturally more sensitive to emotion than others. This is not something to be fixed, it is something to be celebrated and we can learn to work with it.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a combination of therapies that is very useful in treating the difficulties associated with depression, anxiety, substance use, eating disorders and other harmful methods of coping. DBT includes four sets of skills:
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy approach that has been proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages to find relief from many types of painful stressors and behaviors. Complete treatment with EMDR means using a protocol that covers how the issue has been a problem in the present because it shows up from the past; and also how the issue may be robbing you of peace and comfort in the future. All three parts are needed to alleviate the symptoms and address the problem. The goal of EMDR is for your brain to "digest" stored painful information and to create a memory that you can be comfortable with. That means that what is useful to you from an experience will be learned so it can guide you in positive ways in the future, and inappropriate emotions, beliefs, and body sensations will be discarded. The goal of EMDR therapy is to leave you with the emotions, understanding, and perspectives that will lead to healthy and useful behaviors and interactions. It should only be done by a well trained and experienced provider.
Michelle is certified in EMDR which means that in addition to training, hours of consultation with experts in the field of trauma and dissociation have been completed as well. For more information please go to EMDRIA.org.
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
My journey here has been a long and winding one. I have worked professionally with adolescents and adults for over 30 years as an educator, registered nurse, and social worker. I am a proud U.S. Military Veteran and have been married for 30 years to a retired Army Veteran. I have two adult children and have lived overseas and in several states while serving as an Army spouse.
In 2004 when I was in Germany, I saw first hand the devastation to families caused by deployment and combat operations. I was working as a nurse and was often called upon to support families as my background in sexual assault and sexual abuse called for skilled crisis management in very difficult situations. Upon my return to the United States, I specialized in pain management and at the same time, completed a master of science in Social Work.
Following graduation, I specialized in treating eating disorders and then worked in a psychiatric hospital in adolescent inpatient/outpatient services. There I developed a parenting education curriculum to support parents of teens going through a significantly difficult time. My journey led me back to the military veterans and families that I love and I worked with them in a community counseling center servicing several counties in Central Texas. I began to focus exclusively on PTSD and noted that it was a complicated and multi-faceted phenomenon that many of my clients had a form of for a variety of reasons apart from the widely understood combat trauma. Over the years I developed a curriculum to educate and treat clients who suffer from a type of PTSD that probably has been called “anxiety” by other providers. I now offer specialized treatment to clients whose injury occurred insidiously in a relationship in addition to PTSD caused by a traumatic event.
I have much to offer you in your pursuit of building your life worth living and encourage you to take an active role in joining me in the process. I am honored that you would choose to work with me, and will do my best to help you do yours.
When sorrows like sea billows roll...
~Horatio Gates Stafford