Emotional sensitivity, reactivity, and problematic behaviors

It can be hard to live in the world when you’re an emotionally sensitive person, especially if you’ve never learned the skills to manage intense emotions. It’s like being given a Ferrari but never being taught to drive. You may struggle with feelings of depression, anxiety, and/or intense emotional reactions to events in your life. In order to escape the pain of intense emotions or find some way of regulating them, you may engage in behaviors that work in the short term (such as self-harm, substance use, food) but cause more problems in the end. You may also find yourself with a tendency towards black/white thinking and problems in your relationships.

I offer Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which is the type of therapy that has been shown to effectively treat these problems. Through DBT, you will learn skills to become more present, aware, and less reactive, connect to your inner wisdom (yes, it’s there!), think in a more balanced and flexible way, regulate your emotions, communicate effectively, get good at problem solving, and tolerate pain without making it worse. By learning to have more choice and control with your emotions, thoughts, behaviors, you can build a life that you truly want to live.

Anxiety disorders

There are many ways that anxiety can show up: worrying that’s hard to control, a repeating stream of “what if” scenarios going through your mind, edginess, irritability, indecision, fatigue, difficulty sleeping. Sometimes your anxiety might build to panic or the panic might hit you from out of nowhere. You might worry about being judged by others and find yourself avoiding social situations. Anxiety can also show up as compulsive behaviors that work in reducing obsessive, unwanted thoughts. And anxiety is definitely a constant companion if you struggle with perfectionism. It can feel like walking a tightrope where there is no margin for error with the expectations and standards you place on yourself. You either feel the looming fear of not meeting those expectations or the terror of maintaining them. Regardless of how it shows up, living with anxiety makes it impossible to feel truly at ease in your life.

I use a blend of evidence-based and eastern practices in working with anxiety. Depending on the type and source of anxiety, I use interventions including mindfulness based cognitive therapy, exposure and response prevention, radical acceptance, and self-compassion. My background in yoga also informs my approach to treating anxiety disorders in that I emphasize the relationship between the mind and body and teach skills that can help rebalance your nervous system out of a fight or flight state.

Eating disorders and body image

Eating disordered behaviors can take on many forms: food restriction, rigid food rules, compensatory behaviors such as exercise, purging, and laxative abuse, and binging.  Negative thoughts about your body can feel like a running ticker tape that never stops. You likely feel plagued by a belief of not being good enough– especially when it comes to your body.

When it comes to treating eating disorders, it’s not about the food and it’s not not about the food. (Author Geneen Roth hit the nail on the head with that chapter title!) It’s not about the food: My approach to eating disorders involves identifying and pursuing what’s most important in your life (which, when it comes down to it, it’s typically not your body) and connecting to your inner wisdom. We’ll work on how to experience and respond effectively to difficult emotions and how to start treating yourself as if you are your own best friend. It’s Not Not About the Food: If you’re not adequately nourished, it’s impossible to think clearly, feel emotionally balanced, and be able to do the work that recovery requires. So, we’ll talk about food. What you ate. What you didn’t eat. I work closely with dieticians and medical providers to make sure you have a whole team who is working with you on your recovery.

Chronic dieting/Disordered eating and body image

It’s impossible to live in our society and not be inundated with messages about weight loss and dieting. However, have you ever wondered why chronic dieting is a thing? What other proposed “solutions” with that rate of failure are still seen as good ones? (Hint: none!) Rather than promised weight loss, chronic dieting typically results in intense feelings of shame and self-blame because you’re told that the problem is you and your self-will. It’s inevitable that a negative relationship with your body results because it keeps “failing” you. Not to mention that chronic dieting conveys a message that happiness is only allowed once you’ve lost weight. Happiness now isn’t possible because it’s always contingent on you and your body needing to be different first.

I love helping people get off the shame filled roller coaster of dieting and begin the process of self and body acceptance. My approach is based on Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size, which means that I won’t help you to lose weight. Instead, I can help you start to see the value in bodies of all shapes and sizes – including your own- and to reconnect to your body’s inherent wisdom to guide eating and movement. I can help you start to redefine and expand what “health” really means. Time after time again there is one word that I hear people use when they take the radical step of ditching the diet mentality: freedom!