Therapeutic Approach

The Impacts of Stress and Trauma

Research shows that a number of mental health presentations including PTSD, anxiety, panic, depression, and addiction stem from stressful and traumatic experiences in our past. These experiences get dysfunctionally stored in the brain as "reliving experiences" rather than as regular memories. This means that when the memory is triggered, it feels like the stressful event is happening all over again. The body and nervous system remember, even if we aren't thinking about those past events.

 

Symptoms are not an indication that something is wrong with a person but are rather the brain and body's attempt to adapt, survive, and cope. In other words, depression, anxiety, and other symptoms are happening for a good reason!

Our brains have an innate self-healing system that can transform dysfunctionally stored memories, but this system can become blocked resulting in chronic symptoms. Research shows that EMDR therapy unblocks the self-healing system, transforms dysfunctionally stored memories into regular memories, and helps reach an adaptive resolution of symptoms. 

Stressful and traumatic experiences may include: 

  • Childhood physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect 

  • History of bullying by siblings or peers

  • Events resulting in feelings of humiliation, shame, worthlessness, or hopelessness  

  • Abandonment by a parent or loved one

  • Physical and sexual assault/non-consensual sex 

  • Car accidents, slip-and-falls, and other accidents

  • Sudden loss of a loved one, miscarriage, or other losses

  • Experiences of racism and discrimination 

 

These experiences can result in a variety of symptoms such as feeling shut down or numb, anxiety and panic, angry or critical voices in your head, fear of failure, substance use, people-pleasing, flashbacks, fears of sexual or emotional intimacy, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, feeling disconnected from your body, feelings of unworthiness and shame.

Areas of Specialization:

  • PTSD

  • Complex-PTSD 

  • Anxiety and Panic 

  • Depression 

  • Grief and Loss 

  • Dissociative Disorders

More than Just Talk Therapy

Feeling seen, heard, and believed is an important part of healing, but talk-therapy alone is not effective in resolving trauma and transforming pathogenic memories. While it is important for Shivani to understand your history and current experiences, telling and re-telling the details of traumatic experiences is not required for healing and may be counterproductive. This is why Shivani uses approaches that go beyond talk therapy and work with the brain, body, and nervous system to treat the underlying issues at their root.

 

What to Expect

You will be invited to be curious about your experience in the present moment by bringing mindful awareness to your sensations, thoughts, feelings, and breath. You will learn self-regulation skills to manage stress, anxiety, and big emotions. During the initial stage of therapy, your history of significant life events will be taken, your childhood relationships with your caregivers will be discussed, and you will complete assessment questionnaires. Together a collaborative treatment plan will be developed to address your symptoms and meet your unique goals.

 

Therapeutic Approaches

Shivani strives to work from a trauma-informed, feminist, LGBTQ+ affirmative, anti-racist lens and to create a brave therapeutic space where all people feel welcome, respected, and seen. She uses EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy, Somatic Experiencing, and Inner Child Reparenting. 

 

EMDR uses bilateral stimulation through eye movements, tapping, or holding hand buzzers to stimulate your brain's innate ability to process traumatic memories and transform maladaptive negative beliefs into positive, adaptive beliefs. 

 

Somatic Experiencing is a body-centered therapy that uses mindful awareness to elicit your nervous system's self-healing capacity. Shivani teaches clients somatic and mindfulness tools for self-regulation. 

 

Inner Child Reparenting is Shivani's way of integrating various approaches, including the Theory of Structural Dissociation, Ego-State Therapy, Internal Family Systems, and EMDR. This work includes identifying wounded and protective parts of the self to make sense of triggers and reactions, strengthening the Adult Self, repairing attachment wounds, reducing internal conflict, and facilitating inner harmony and collaboration. Many clients benefit from Inner Child Reparenting, and for some, this work is essential in preparing for receiving standard EMDR therapy.

© 2021 by Shivani Wells-Shaw