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EMDR-IFS-Attachment Therapy-NOVA

Our Counseling Approach Journey:

As I mentioned in the section About Me, during my journey as a therapist I have develop a passion for Attachment Theory and trauma treatment. In the treatment phase, I looked into different modalities and trainings out there to specialize in the topic. It is fascinating to me that no matter what people are looking for when coming to therapy, loss of a baby, depression, eating disorder, high anxiety and stress, relationships or loneliness problems, addictions, parenting, work related issues and self-esteem…sooner or later, in 90% of the cases, we end up talking about trauma (part of life) and some sort of attachment injury.

Why is that? Because there are four main types of attachment: Secure or healthy. Insecure anxious or avoidant) and disorganized. Research shows that secure attachment is the number one predictor of emotional regulation and resilience in life. So, most people that don’t have that attachment style (which develops pretty early in life) tend to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with difficulties, pile on trauma experiences and, present many of the common symptoms that bring people to therapy later in life. So, the more we can process and heal the trauma and revert people to secure attachment (natural adaptive form or real self), the better the person will do in life.

Don’t worry. The good news is that now change and recovery is possible. Moreover, you can earn a secure attachment and heal from trauma (overt or lack of something).

DC VA Counseling Therapeutic Modalities of Choice:

Psychology is a relative new science (Freud, 1940). However, there are many new and different therapeutic modalities today and, they are all helpful in their own way.  

Therapy modalities are building from each other and adding new discoveries. Research and advances on neurobiology are being integrated in the application of psychotherapy. We can see and proof now how psychotherapy  changes the brain, the interaction of the brain and the mind, and not only work with trauma and psychopathology but, also create new and healthy neuropathways in the brain.

It is very exciting! However, the trick is for your therapist to know and choose what is best for your case. No one theory or approach fits all. It is the art of the combination that makes the best therapy. Therefore, I connected with other therapists that share this vision and expertise so we can serve more people and collaborate in cases together. As attachment and trauma experts, we combine the following modalities in our therapy work:


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help you understand the experience and expression of your emotions.   Then you can identify and challenge your beliefs and attend and respond to your emotions adaptively.


Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) teaches clients four sets of behavioral skills: mindfulness; distress tolerance; interpersonal effectiveness; and emotion regulation


Mindfulness is a basic human quality, but it is also a practice that you need to learn in relationships. That is why meditations groups work because we aren’t meant to regulate alone. In a compassionate and empathic environment, you can feel (for some people for the first time) a way of learning to pay wise attention to whatever is happening in your life–here and now. In the process of exploring and understanding the interplay of mind and body, you start mobilizing your own inner resources for coping and growing.

Person Centered Therapy:

It is a non-directive form of talk therapy that was developed by humanist psychologist Carl Rogers. Rogers believed that the therapeutic relationship could lead to insights and lasting changes in clients, which intuitively was, what later became the bases of attachment. He believed that if the person feels accepted and safe, he/she can access his/her inner resources and wisdom.

Experiential or Process Oriented Attachment Therapy:

When in need of deeper healing and resolution, bottom up approaches or so called -process oriented therapies- are more effective. Why? Because in addition, to talk therapy, they are going to activate your nervous system, so past memories can be process and new and healthier neuropathways can be created. Some of those modalities are:

EMDR ( Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing )

EMDR is an effective method of psychotherapy used for a wide variety of life concerns including:

  • All types of trauma: one-time incidents and Complex PTSD trauma (relational and developmental trauma.
  • Childhood events which have caused low self – esteem or confidence problems
  • Anxiety/Phobias/OCD
  • Depression
  • Addictive Behaviors
  • Eating disorders
  • Grief/loss
  • Performance Anxiety in sports, work, and the arts.
  • Stress Reduction
  • Perfectionism

How Does EMDR Work?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a comprehensive approach to psychotherapy. It originally developed by Francine Shapiro, a Senior Research Fellow at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, California in 1987.

Human nature is naturally geared towards health and to be in meaningful relations with others. When life conditions are good, we thrive; when we’re under prolonged periods of stress or disturbing events happen, symptoms can develop. Why? Because under high levels of stress the brain can not process information normally and therefore, those experiences tend to get stuck in isolated neuropathways.

“frozen in time”

Those moments become “frozen in time”, and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed no matter how much time passes.  Such unprocessed memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and relates to other people.

EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way the brain processes information.  

EMDR appears to replicate what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.  Therefore, it can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy because it taps on the brains’ natural capacity to heal and helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way. So once normal information processing is resumed, the person no longer perceives the event nor feels the disturbing feelings as before.

EMDR offers a reprocessing of disturbing life experiences resulting in a significant reduction or elimination of symptoms such as emotional distress, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks and nightmares.  EMDR is one of the most researched psychotherapeutic techniques in history.  A complete list of studies may be found through the EMDR International Association’s web site, http://www.emdria.org  or The EMDR Institute, www.emdr.com

Internal Family Systems (IFS):

Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy is not family therapy. The mind is not a unit, but the sum of parts. That explains the complexity of our minds. Many times, we are feeling more than one feeling at a time and even contradictory ones. (Basics of dialectics).  The name refers to each person’s internal community or “family” of psychological parts. Very often, our internal systems become organized around emotional pain, and how to manage it. So, an IFS therapist works with you to release pain, calm down problem areas and problem behaviors, and restore your original joy in life.

Aim of Internal Family Systems Therapy

Aim of Internal Family Systems Therapy is healing the wounds associated with traumatic situations or the lack of nurturing in life. So, the application of Internal Family Systems Therapy in family, couple, and individual situations. This technique combines two established methods: multiplicity of the mind and systems thinking.

Internal Family Systems Therapy brings together various strategies from the Bowenian therapy base, as well as from more traditional narrative and structural modalities. So, the different elements are united through the goal of addressing the sub-personality. In this type of therapy, it guides a person to realize their inner self through the use of practical applications. A person progresses on their own healing path according to their unique design without external urgency or persuasion. Richard C. Schwartz, Ph.D developed Internal Family Systems Therapy.

If you would like to read more about this model, visit htt://www.selfleadership.org

Attachment Therapy and Relational Trauma :

How does it Attachment Therapy work?

The core of this modality is to help you identify your Attachment style and its challenges. Therefore, by learning the exact language for each Attachment style and specific corrective experiences you can heal early wounds.

What does a Secure Attachment matters?

Secure attachment is responsible for (Segal & Jaffe, 2015):

Shaping our future relationships

Strengthening or damaging our abilities to focus, to be conscious of our feelings, and to calm ourselves (internal emotional regulation)

Forming our ability to bounce back from misfortune: resilience

Why learning the language of attachment is a foundational skill for all relationships?

1.  People often put their best intentions into trying to be ideal partners. However, often early biological wiring fuels automatic responses that create intense conflict and pain with the very ones they love most. So, by learning the language of Attachment, you can heal your childhood attachment wounds, which is ESSENTIAL to enjoy fulfilling relationships as adults now.

2. Attachment is present in ALL AREAS of our life: parenting, personal relationships, coaching, and business. Therefore, this work is expanding far beyond the field of trauma. Some of this isn’t that hard. Moreover, there are very learnable skills that can enable anyone to experience meaningful and fulfilling relationships in every area of their life.

3. When you understand early Attachment styles in a healthy, safe environment such as the one in therapy, the original imprints that are the foundation of the self-protective ego structure can be healed.

For more information about it, visit http://www.attachmentrepattering.com

Next Steps:

So if you are ready to start your work with us, contact us. Isabelkirk@gmail.com or 703-231-7991.