Integrative Therapy

Do you pay regular visits to yourself?
— Rumi

As an integrative therapist and coach, I work with individuals and couples from an experiential, intuitive and present-focused, mindfulness perspective. My approach is creative, integrating mind-body techniques with the emotional and ancient wisdom of many traditions, to create expanded possibilities of healing and growth. As a registered yoga teacher and practitioner, I often recommend these helpful practices for my clients. Please call or email me with questions related to mindfulness practices and meditation support for enhanced emotional and physical health.

Mindfulness is a simple approach to living a meaningful life. Western medicine is now recognizing Mindfulness as a powerful, evidence-based tool for dealing with trauma, PTSD symptoms, attachment deficits, chronic stress, pain, depression, anxiety, addictions, eating disorders and many other medical and psychological conditions. The practice of Mindfulness teaches practitioners a way of being more deeply present in the body, with thoughts and emotions. It is learning to work with what is, acceptance of reality, in a less reactive and judgmental manner. 

Mindfulness helps individuals learn to switch from autopilot to being present--as such, they learn to respond differently to the unavoidable, ordinary and even extraordinary stressors in their lives. Life becomes richer with a deeper level of awareness, one moment at a time. Mindfulness helps individuals struggling with psychological difficulties as well as those managing stress and the ordinary problems of daily living. Mindfulness can enhance all of your relationships by helping you be more "present" for the other.

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.
— Henry David Thoreau

Stress Management + Reduction

Stress is present for all of us, especially when we live and work in busy cities and attempt to manage the demands of work-life balance. Chronic, unrelenting stress can affect one's physical and mental health. Stress regularly shows up in the body as pain and other symptoms in addition to accelerated aging. Stress can lead to insomnia and memory problems, increase one's risk of heart disease, have an impact on diabetes and arthritis, contribute to the development of eczema and autoimmune disorders, and even lead to reduced resistance and immune system depression. Kim Seelbrede is a stress reduction expert and has studied techniques with experts in the field.  She offers her guidance and training to individuals who would benefit from her experience.

Changing habits and negative thoughts can be a challenge for most of us, but with stress management support, it is possible to eliminate the old and to adopt healthier, health-sustaining habits. Those who have a difficult time coping with stress on their own often turn to unhealthy ways of coping. Typically, clients who come for stress management are experiencing difficulty relaxing, feeling on edge and may experience sleep problems. These clients are typically busy and ambitious people who work hard and could benefit from approaches to help them find balance and comfort in their bodies and lives.  Many clients often benefit from sampling a variety of techniques such as EMDR, guided meditation and mindfulness to find the techniques that provide the desired support.

Together, we will look at the many areas of your life to find the sources of your problems and find solutions. Areas of focus may include work, family and other areas of one's life. Techniques to help you relax, de-stress optimize your environment and breathe are important aspects of integrative therapy sessions. In addition to being a licensed psychotherapist, I am an experienced yoga and meditation instructor and have received training with the groundbreaking Urban Zen Foundation.

With stress and relaxation coaching you will learn to:

  • Identify the areas in your life that are causing stress
  • Develop coping strategies to reduce and manage stress in your life
  • Better understand your own body's response to stress
  • Establish healthy work and personal boundaries
  • Maintain an exercise regimen
  • Manage disease, pain or chronic conditions 
  • Utilize techniques to manage stress such as meditation and breathing techniques

What are the benefits of working with a Stress Management Expert?

  • Enhanced clarity of thought and focus
  • Improved immune function
  • Reduction in unhealthy physical responses to stress such as increased cortisol and adrenaline
  • Increased energy and vitality
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Increased self-esteem and confidence
  • Weight loss
  • Control over unhelpful responses to stress
  • Increased motivation
  • Healthy work and life balance
  • Greater sense of emotional satisfaction and well being

How does stress impact your life?

Stress can affect every area of life--physically and emotionally. In fact, stress plays a role in virtually every disease and condition from the common cold to life-threatening diseases--stress weakens the immune system. Unhealthy levels of stress leads to the following symptoms:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Chronic hyperventilation
  • Tense muscles
  • Impaired digestion
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Memory loss
  • Back pain
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Anxiety, fear, irritability, frustration, hyperactivity
  • Anger
  • Decreased self esteem
  • Relationship problems & divorce.

Mindfulness Support 

Developed more than two decades ago at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., mindfulness training helps a person live in the present moment in an effort to better handle the ups and downs of life.  By intentionally bringing a non-judgmental awareness to breathing, body sensations, moods, thoughts and feelings – including fear, anger, frustration, desire, and self-doubt-–a person is better equipped to deal with the challenges of life.  This very special kind of attentiveness enables one to acquire new insights about life situations, and in turn, develop ways to consciously respond, rather than react to the conditions of life.

People simply observe what arises in the body and mind, perceiving each experience as an event in their own field of awareness. This fuller, moment to moment, non-judgmental awareness known as Mindfulness frees one to make clearer and more attuned decisions.

Most people report an increased ability to relax, greater energy and enthusiasm for life, brightened self-confidence and an increased ability to cope more effectively with both short and long-term, stressful situations.

Meditation Training and Support

Meditation is an activity that calms the mind and keeps it focused on the present. In the meditative state, the mind is not cluttered with thoughts or memories of the past, nor is it concerned with future events. When thoughts keep us distracted during meditation, we can guide ourselves back to our breathing or practice watching and observing the mind in the same way one would gaze at the sky and watch a cloud pass. Meditation seems to overwhelm many, but the truth is, we meditate often throughout our day, and mostly we are unaware of this natural practice state. When you’re having a busy day and think that you cannot possible add one more activity, just sit. Sit quietly and breath evenly, for two to five minutes and enjoy a meditative experience that can be restorative in nature and allow you to return to your activities feeling calmer and more balanced. Meditation produces a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. It can give you a sense of calm, peace and emotional stability. And these effects don’t end when your meditation session ends. Practiced regularly, meditation can have lasting effects on your emotional and physical well-being.

Rigorous scientific research can measure the effects of meditation on a range of health variables and are currently being evaluated in such ground-breaking initiatives as a year long experiment combining Eastern and Western healing methods at Beth Israel Medical Center, UCLA, Ohio State and more.

Other interesting and helpful techniques that I regularly integrate into wellness coaching sessions...  

Body Scans

Body scans offer help for bringing deep awareness to the many processes of the mind and body. While in a state of relaxation, allow the mind to focus awareness on, and just notice parts of the body. Many people like to begin with the feet and work their way up the body, noticing any sensations such as: holding, tightness, agitation, softness, relaxation, pain, lack of pain, etc. Either before or after a body scan, practitioners often do a breath awareness exercise where the focus of attention is simply noticing breathing and any sensations or thoughts as you do this gentle exercise. Body scans can be helpful for individuals with chronic pain by focusing on parts of the body that are pain-free.

Guided Imagery  

Guided Imagery is a therapeutic technique that is used by some clinicians during psychotherapy sessions to promote relaxation and healing. Imagery (thoughts or mental representations with sensory qualities) can help people achieve a variety of health goals, such as alleviating anxiety or depression, overcoming phobias, trauma recovery, reducing habits (overeating, smoking), healing from physical illness, and physical symptom reduction (i.e., high blood pressure, headaches, insomnia, G.I. problems, chronic pain). Guided imagery is a two-part process. The first component involves reaching a state of deep relaxation through breathing and muscle relaxation techniques. During the relaxation phase, the person closes their eyes and focuses on the quiet, relaxed, "in and out" nature of breathing. Or, they might focus on releasing the feelings of tension from their muscles, beginning with the toes and working up to the top of the head, as one might do in progressive relaxation or body scans. Once relaxation is achieved, the second component of the exercise is the imagery, or visualization. Guided imagery is perfect for patients or clients who feel uncomfortable receiving help in a traditional therapist/patient session where "talk therapy" is the focus, or in addition to other therapeutic techniques.

Clinicians and therapists integrate guided imagery into a variety of other modalities such as EMDR. When woven into an integrative psychotherapy approach, guided imagery helps clients connect with their internal cognitive, affective, and somatic resources. Guided imagery can be used for the following:

  • To relax and calm the nervous system
  • Learn and rehearse new skills
  • Learn to effectively problem solve through visualizing possible outcomes of different alternatives
  • Increase creativity and imagination
  • Enhanced performance and sports training
  • Healthcare and rehabilitative medicine

Medical practitioners such as nurses often use guided imagery with their patients to support patient healing and increase patient comfort. This is particularly true with Cancer patients, but also with patients who have other medical concerns such as anxiety before surgery. Studies have shown that individuals who participate in guided imagery experience an increase in activated T-cells which leads to improved immune responses. Guided Imagery is one of many tools that an individual may use as part of a regular self-care practice.

The usefulness of guided imagery techniques have been shown to be effective in helping individuals learn or modify behaviors such as:

  • Learning to relax
  • Changing or controlling negative emotions in response to a particular situation
  • Preparation for future changes (divorce, moving, job changes)
  • Habit control and eliminating or reducing undesirable behaviors (smoking, obesity)
  • Increased pain management
  • Coping with difficult situations (relatives, family events, a difficult boss)
  • Learning new and desirable behaviors (assertiveness training)
  • Increasing motivation (work, homework)
  • Learning to manage stressful or anxiety-producing situations (public speaking/presentations) by mentally rehearsing the needed behavior(s)

Guided imagery techniques have been found to be effective with a variety of concerns such as:

  • Phobias (including agoraphobia, panic disorders, social phobia, and specific phobias)
  • Depression
  • Generalized anxiety disorders (GAD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Sexual concerns
  • Habit disorders
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Behavior disorders in children and adolescents
  • Medical conditions
  • Acute and chronic pain (and other physical disorders)

Guided imagery has also contributed to the achievement of skills and overcoming anxiety in normal life situations that include learning or improving skills, performance enhancement, test taking, and public speaking. Visualization and imagery, along with hypnotherapy, EMDR and behavioral techniques, have been applied to the fields of business, industry, child rearing, education, behavioral medicine, and sports. In my Manhattan psychotherapy practice, I integrate guided imagery into psychotherapy and EMDR sessions with patients as needed.