Trauma Healing

San Francisco Trauma Healing

“Trauma is like a straightjacket that binds the mind and body in frozen fear. Pardoxically, it is also a portal that can lead us to awakening and freedom.”

—Peter Levine
Waking The Tiger: Healing Trauma

If you have been living with the effects of trauma, you might feel isolated from those around you. Friends and family may not understand what you have experienced or how to support you. In addition, many trauma survivors carry negative beliefs about themselves and trauma-stress in their bodies.

How I Can Help

It is beneficial to talk with a trained psychotherapist, like myself, that can help you to process the troubling memories, thoughts and feelings. Through our work together, you will be able to release the pain that you have been holding on to, enhance your coping skills and increase your self-confidence. I utilize two safe, effective and well-researched interventions that were developed for treating and releasing trauma–EMDR and Somatic Experiencing. Both of these therapies go beyond talk-therapy in that they facilitate trauma-release in both the mind and body.


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro, has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. This was designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. During an EMDR session, a client attends to emotionally disturbing material while simultaneously focusing on an external stimuli, such as the therapist’s directed eye movements or hand-tapping. This stimulates communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which allows negative beliefs to be replaced with new learning.

Somatic Experiencing

Somatic Experiencing (SE), developed by Dr. Peter Levine, is a gentle, effective and safe therapy. It is a method of accessing the body’s ability to heal and resolve the effects of trauma. Somatic Experiencing works directly with the inherent wisdom of the body. It bypasses the cognitive brain centers and utilizes the “language” of the primitive brain: sensation.

Initially I facilitate my client’s learning about resources that will allow them to return to comfortable body sensations after having a stressful thought. Then, I gradually work with the nervous system activation that comes with disturbing thoughts and memories. This allows for a release of stress and results in a restored sense of well- being.

What is Trauma

Trauma occurs in situations that happen once or repeatedly that you were unprepared for and felt powerless to prevent. Trauma can be very recent or from your distant past. It can be ongoing like childhood abuse or a violent relationship. It can also be a discreet incident like a car accident or a natural disaster.

Research has shown that ongoing less intensive trauma can just as difficult to recover from as a more intensive single incident. For example, clients are often surprised that they are still being affected by growing up in an unstable home. However, once healing begins, you can better understand and cope with the trauma that results from an unsafe environment.

Trauma effects can come from situations such as:

  • Childhood verbal, physical and/or sexual abuse
  • Living in a situation that is abusive or unstable due to addiction, or serious mental or physical health problems
  • Death of a significant other, parent, child, sibling or other close relation
  • Surviving or witnessing an incident which results in death or serious injury to self, others or property
  • Surgery
  • Diagnosis of a life-threatening illness or disabling condition

Trauma Symptoms

Symptoms of trauma may be persistent and constantly present or may only be present in certain situations. They may be mild to severe and, in some cases, significantly impede your ability to live a full life. Symptoms of trauma include:

  • Avoidance of situations that may remind you of a trauma
  • Panic and fear
  • Dissociation, feelings of unreality
  • Difficulty thinking and concentrating
  • Unwanted, intrusive thoughts and memories
  • Sense that the world is unsafe, unsteady, unpredictable, and unfair
  • Sleep Disturbance
  • Sudden tears or anger
  • Increased alertness
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Headaches