I am recognized in the San Francisco Bay Area for treating addictions over the past 20+ years. However, I would like to acquaint you with the full scope of my practice. Being that the severity of one’s addiction may be linked to childhood abuse, for the past eight years I have expanded my education and training to include the treatment of individuals with a history of childhood abuse often referred to as Relational Trauma and Complex PTSD. This abuse includes sexual, physical, verbal/emotional and neglect, as well as significant levels of malattunement in the long-term relationship between the parent/caregiver and child.

My interest in treating people with childhood trauma/abuse was moved by the histories of the individuals with addictions that I worked with. Studies have shown that a vast majority and as high as 70% of people who develop severe (compulsive) substance dependence have a history of a form of childhood abuse. My study of this literature also depicted that severe childhood malattunement in family/parent-child relational patterns predisposes one to adult depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, disordered eating, somatization, and relationship (attachment) problems. Recovery and/or treatment (e.g., of depression) may be incomplete until the effects of this developmental history are addressed.

I take a non-pathologizing, developmentally informed approach that integrates cognitive-behavioral and contemporary psychoanalytic-psychodynamic perspectives. Along with cognitive and exposure-based strategies, I utilize approaches associated with such theories as Attachment, Object Relations, Self-Psychology, Self-Object Theory, Relational, Mentalization, and the Self-Trauma Model. These theories have been empirically linked to the large body of infant and child research on the psychological and emotional development of personhood and how we learn to be-in-the world (with self and others). This infant research has guided the theories and development of contemporary approaches to interpersonal/relational therapies and the treatment of childhood abuse/malattunement. Additionally, it has illustrated the importance of the relationship and process between the therapist and client in treating psychological problems, especially symptoms linked to compromised developmental histories.

My approach co-creates a safe interpersonal space that fits the person’s need for safety, which is balanced with healthy vulnerability, essential for change. The person learns to trust and put self-experiences into words, bringing more of self into the therapy instead of keeping the experience/affect unknown, embodied and enacted (e.g., compulsively using substances or food, or being symptomatic). This facilitates the resolution of maladaptive coping strategies and disturbing symptoms. This process also assists in the healing of shame, an intense emotion that keeps us hidden.