As a trauma trained cognitive behavioral therapist (CBT) and, a certified clinical hypnotherapist I specialize in treating individuals 18 years and older with a wide range of conditions like depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive (OCD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anger disorders, and Adult AD(H)D.
I also treat a number of addictions including alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, narcotic, pornography and sex addiction. My approach to addiction is based on the SMART Recovery Model (www.smartrecovery.org). This model, which is also based on the principles of CBT, emphasizes (1) Enhancing motivation; (2) Refusing to act on urges to use; (3) Managing life’s problems in a sensible and effective way without substances; and (4) Developing a positive, balanced, and healthy lifestyle.
Frankly, the reason I mastered the CBT approach is that for many years it’s been the only psychotherapy that has consistently proven effective in clinical trials. The premise of CBT is relatively simple. It focuses on the idea that people can be taught to think and act in more rational (effective) ways. This approach not only provides a means of changing the ways individuals view themselves and their environment (cognitions), but also the way they act in that environment (behaviors). My book, entitled “Change You: A Scientific Approach to Recovery from Bad Habits and Addictions,” explains how CBT taken together with the SMART Recovery process can help you systematically go about overcoming both bad habits and, serious addictions.
In addition to using CBT, I also use an innovative technique that I discovered while working inside a Hollywood Studio. I was sitting across from several writers and a producer discussing the different ways one of the characters on a popular television program might respond to a number of “hypothetical” challenges in her life. For the first time, it occurred to me that what was happening in the studio was very much like what happens in my clinics. As I answered questions about different scenarios the writers were editing the story line which would eventually be passed off to the actors in the form of a script. The actors would, in turn, rehearse their lines and play their parts. This is also true with my clients. They listen and think through my socratics questions and suggestions, and based on their insights they will change their “life script.” In fact, I now tell all my clients that a necessary first step in improving their lives is to systematically identify and revise stories they tell themselves that undermine their success and happiness.
This new therapeutic approach, which I call Life Script Restructuring (LSR), has been highly successful in helping individuals overcome significant challenges and change their lives for good. Because of this success I’ve written a book that outlines the LSR approach. This book, entitled “Life Script Restructuring: The Neuroplastic Psychology for Rewiring Your Brain and Changing Your Life,” walks you through the entire LSR process in a way that helps you identify and replace stories that you tell yourself that undermine your ability to be happy.
Given my research and experience with religiosity and religious trauma, I also provide support and guidance to individuals who have walked away from, been get kicked out of, or been abandoned by their religious (cult) leaders. In such cases it’s often a surprise to find that freedom from the cult or highly legalistic denomination is not necessarily freedom from their influence. After experiencing intensive mind control techniques — many times from childhood — it’s not a simple thing to walk away from these groups. Religious leaders know this and use this to their advantage by saying such things as “doubt your doubts before you doubt the church,” or “you can leave our religion but you can’t leave it alone.” This type of manipulation and “gaslighting” can cause what I call “cult-induced phobias, intense anxiety, and acute stress disorders.”
As a psychotherapist working with “ex-members” I can help you build a new life and sort through your values and goals. I can also help you deal with the sense of overwhelming loss and heightened emotionality that often results in PTSD-like symptoms including nightmares, depression, and a sense of hopelessness.
I also provide deradicalization treatment (DERAD) which is designed to help move individuals who hold extremist beliefs to disavow support for and commitment to violence on behalf of a group, cause, or ideology advocating political or social change. The involves conducting assessments to explicate the cause and level of radicalization using the Violent Extremism Evaluation Measurement (VEEM) framework to evaluate Counter-Violent-Extremism (CVE) interventions. The VEEM framework has an overarching structure of three broad categories of violent extremism attributes: ‘Initial states of extremism’, ‘Initial manifestations of extremism’ and ‘Extremist manifestations.’ Based on the results of these assessments I develop and implement an evidence-based CBT treatment plan that is tailored to the knowledge, emotional intelligence, and skill deficits. This treatment plan includes psycho-education, rational problem solving, media literacy, cognitive restructuring, and counter radicalization visioning. All of this is supplemented by hypnosis and brain spotting designed to identify and treat trauma and reinforce cognitive restructuring interventions, and compassion based cognitive therapy (CBCT). Given the nature of radicalization and the potential for resistance I use motivational and paradoxical interviewing to identify and overcome resistance and ambivalence to change.