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Our Counselling Services

Contemporary neurobiological research into trauma suggests that trauma has a powerful physical component.

 

Hence, current recommendations for trauma-informed therapies are to include body-based and somatic approaches when addressing trauma and its embodied responses.

 

Jessica is a somatic counsellor, trained in several somatic and body-based approaches to not just address the trauma’s different facets, but to utilize the bodies innate drive to heal to create change and wellbeing.

Scope of Practice

While Jessica's work draws from a wide variety of disciplines (including lifestyle medicine, nutrition, neuroscience), she heavily bases her approach on the following modalities:

- Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

- Creative Arts Therapy

- Polyvagal Theory

What you can Expect

A typical session will look different dependent on the state you are in and what you need or hope to gain from therapy.

 

In general, there is a beginning section (approximately 10-15 minutes) which serves as a time to check in and see what is going on for you in the current moment. Often, this section is completed when we collaboratively find a topic or theme and decide to explore this theme deeper, transitioning into a processing phase that lasts between 20-25 minutes. During this time, we might use art materials, movement, mindfulness practices, or just verbal conversation to explore this theme or themes. We generally wrap up the session by reflecting on the process, what we have experienced, gained, or learned.

 

Especially when we are just starting the process of therapy, the sessions will feel like a social gathering and casual conversation. This does not mean that we are not “doing therapy” but is to establish a sense for boundaries and needs of each participant in the therapeutic alliance – you and me. You are never required to talk about or “bring in” the trauma if you do not feel ready. On the contrary, working with trauma without having established a somewhat safe space and adequate resources risks re-traumatization and a worsening of symptoms.

 

Trauma always finds its way into our everyday life, and I tend to address and work with it when it comes up. Further down the line, when we both have a better sense of resources and regulation capacities, we might choose to focus on the trauma or specific traumatic events as the theme of the session. This decision is always up to you and you have the power to stop and change your mind at any time.

*Please note, Jessica only treats adults 18+ years of age.

 

SENSORIMOTOR PSYCHOTHERAPY

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Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP) is a therapeutic modality for trauma and attachment issues.

SP welcomes the body as an integral source of information which can guide resourcing and the accessing and processing of challenging, traumatic, and developmental experience. SP is a holistic approach that includes somatic, emotional, and cognitive processing and integration.

SP enables clients to discover and change habitual physical and psychological patterns that impede optimal functioning and well-being. SP is helpful in working with dysregulated activation and other effects of trauma, as well as the limiting belief systems of developmental issues.

SP helps clients cultivate their strengths, while providing enough challenge to stimulate growth, long lasting change, and well-being (Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, 2022).

CREATIVE ARTS THERAPY

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Creative arts therapies are based on the idea that creativity enhances the well-being of all people and is a natural part of all cultures and human experience.

It is an experiential, holistic, psychotherapeutic approach aligning well with indigenous practices. 

Creative arts therapies use creative processes to help clients explore and express unconscious material that is often difficult to articulate in words.

 

These methods are innovative, participatory and practical: they provide a supportive space for participants to ‘try on’ and practise new behaviours, and this can be more effective than merely talking about change. Creativity harnesses the imagination and a sense of play. This can help those who have limited choices in their life to use the safe space of the therapeutic environment to learn to tolerate the uncertainty of the unknown, and to become more comfortable to be able to improvise and open up new possibilities in their lives. A key feature of the creative arts therapies is that the processes are often pleasurable. This means that using the arts we are more likely to practice new patterns of more healthy behaviour.

Because creative arts therapies are based on body awareness they can effectively address trauma and emotional and physical dysregulation. Creative arts therapies can increase resilience by improving the sense of agency and self-understanding through the ability to express feelings symbolically. This can give new perspectives on oneself and on one’s world view, which is essential in the recovery process. (ANZACATA, 2021)

POLYVAGAL THEORY

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The Polyvagal Theory is a theory proposed by Stephen Porges that describes how the autonomic nervous system evolved to keep us safe and alive.

As mammals evolved from reptiles, our autonomic nervous system developed to automatically communicate with other mammals and engage different self-defense systems when needed.

When our self-defense systems are repeatedly or chronically engaged or we aren’t able to communicate with others effectively, e.g. in response to simple or complex trauma, our bodily systems can become stuck in certain maladaptive states. Porges’ theory emphasizes the importance of how our physiological state—the way the systems of our body are functioning—is involved in behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders (Somatic Movement Center, 2021).

Somatic and polyvagal-informed therapies aim at repatterning and recalibrating this system to increase the sense of safety and to change maladaptive states.

ACC MAY BE AVAILABLE TO YOU

ACC covered Mental Health Therapy for Sexual Abuse Survivors (Integrative Services for Sensitive Claims - ISSC)

ACC provides funding for short and long-term psychotherapy and other support services for survivors of sexual violence. To fit this category, the client must have experienced a Schedule 3 event in New Zealand. Some events covered under this act are sexual assault or violence (attempted or occurred), inappropriate communication and connection under the age of 16, sexual grooming, or female genital mutilation. 

 

The process to get long-term coverage for therapy through ACC involves several steps: an initial early planning phase to establish a base and to see if there is reason for coverage, an official psychological assessment, and – after approval – the continued long-term support towards wellbeing. The process to arrive at an approved claim can take anywhere from 4-9 months.

 

If you are seeking therapy under ACC cover, I will guide you through the process and answer any questions you might have. ACC funds an initial 6 sessions for each client that seeks support under ISSC services and is committed to providing ongoing support while the client moves through the different phases. The best course of action to decide if you are eligible for or interested in applying for ACC coverage is to book an initial consultation with me and to go from there. ACC covers this consultation as part of the initial 6 sessions.