Have you tried traditional therapy in the past but are still stuck in the same old emotional and behavioral patterns? If so, you aren't alone and you’ve come to the right place. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, addictions, trauma, or grief, to name a few, I can offer you a different approach that goes beyond what most people think of when they hear the word "therapy." Over the years I have become trained in alternative and expressive modalities and thus have transformed the way I do therapy. In addition to my clinical social work degree from the University of Maryland in 2002, I completed two specialized trauma training programs through The Ferentz Institute in 2010 and I am also a faculty member there. Most recently, I completed my 200 hour level yoga teacher training through the Yoga Center of Columbia in 2017. I've found yoga to be a wonderful complement to my therapy practice and use it regularly with many clients dealing with all sorts of issues.
I love learning about new and exciting ways to improve therapy for clients and apparently I'm determined to work myself out of a job! Maybe one day, everyone will have a happy childhood and the world will be a much more peaceful place. Until then, I'm here to create a safe space for people to heal and discover peace within themselves. I hope to cross paths with you when you are ready.
Imagine that you are trying to do a jigsaw puzzle but the top to the box is missing. This is one way to conceptualize the therapy process: we will find ways to to work on the puzzle together and little by little, the picture will emerge. Some people want traditional "talk therapy" only, while others are interested in trying more non-conventional and creative approaches to healing. Talk therapy can include psychoeducation, working on changing beliefs, and taking action steps toward changing a behavior. More alternative approaches that I find useful include mind-body techniques, yoga, breathwork, art, guided imagery, and a method I've created called "Inner Journey" that allows for deep emotional healing. My experience has been that the longer someone keeps coming to therapy, the more open to trying new techniques that person becomes. A trusting and stable therapeutic relationship creates a safe and comfortable atmosphere in which clients are willing to try something unfamiliar or even a bit uncomfortable. Therapy does require effort and you get out of it it what you put into it!
Therapy is a deeply personal process rather than just something to learn about. I've included the following feedback from clients when asked to describe what has shifted as a result of therapy:
*A sense of peace and joy that they’ve never experienced before
*More compassion and understanding for themselves and others
*Closer, more meaningful relationships with friends and family
*Discovering aspects of themselves such as “inner strength” and “inner wisdom”
*Lots of "A-Ha!" moments when things finally make sense
*Feeling more comfortable in their bodies and able to breathe more deeply
*Decreased anxiety and improved mood
*Finally able to let go of self-destructive beliefs and behaviors
*Deeper spiritual connection
Depression is considered the "common cold" of therapy. Life can feel overwhelming and even hopeless and sometimes we need help to recover the motivation, perspective, and joy that we once had. Some of the clients I work with take medication for mood stabilization and I coordinate care with the prescribing doctor. I believe that medication can be a helpful tool in conjunction with therapy, especially if someone is feeling suicidal or unable to function in their daily life as a result of depression. However, I'm also a strong believer in the power of lifestyle changes such as proper nutrition, exercise, quality sleep, and stress-management. I've found that when someone has been labeled with "Depression," it can often become part of their identity which can be harmful since it's hard to change self-image and deeply held beliefs about self. I also think that when someone has been labeled "Depressed," a more appropriate label would be "depleted and defeated." I'm not a big fan of diagnoses and only use them to communicate a cluster of symptoms that insurance companies or other mental health professionals recognize.
The term "trauma" has become a buzz word in the therapy world. I've heard one definition of trauma as "broken connection," meaning loss of connection to self, others, and the world. Trauma really is in the eye of the beholder because different people will have very different reactions to similar events. Whether we are talking about childhood abuse and neglect, or acute occurrences such as a car accident, physical attack, or natural disaster, there can be long-reaching and lasting effects such as stress-related physical health problems, nightmares, generalized anxiety, flashbacks, depression, dissociation, and problems with intimate relationships. I am so grateful to have received the wonderful training I have with regards to treating and healing trauma. Our bodies and minds were designed to be able to heal from trauma but it takes specific tools and a very safe environment to be able to access this healing mechanism. So there is hope, regardless of how long ago the trauma occurred and if other types of therapy haven't worked for you!
Prior to obtaining post-graduate trauma training, my main focus was in the field of substance abuse, so I am quite familiar with how traditional treatment methods work. I've found that taking a strengths-based approach rather than seeing a behavior as the enemy yields more meaningful, lasting change even for people who have been labeled "chronic relapsers." I see addictions simply as coping strategies that end up causing harm unintentionally. It is human nature to want to feel happy and comfortable and to run from pain and discomfort. When someone is abusing substances, or engaging in other behaviors that cause harm, it's because they lack alternative, healthy strategies to manage their emotional states, and/or they are trying to feel something other than "numb." Additionally, there are non-verbal meanings and messages being communicated by the behaviors and if we don't work to decipher them, little progress can be made. There's a lot of stigma attached to the word "addictions" and I work hard to re-frame behaviors in order to decrease shame and self-judgment.
Grief can often be mistaken for Depression, and sometimes people don't realize that they are experiencing a natural grieving response to some kind of loss. Life is filled with losses for all of us without a doubt. The most obvious loss is the death of a loved one but there are other more ambiguous losses such as miscarriage, divorce, illness or injury that require treatment and lifestyle changes, and the loss of innocence that accompanies childhood abuse or neglect. Depending on a person's culture and upbringing, grieving may be something that doesn't get much acknowledgment perhaps because people are uncomfortable with it overall. In other cultures, outward emotional expression of grief is accepted and expected, and I am willing to bet that they don't require therapy to process most of the losses they experience. It's important to fully acknowledge losses and allow yourself time and space to grieve fully. Grieving fully requires experiencing a range of emotions that usually includes denial, confusion, anger, deep sadness, and eventually, acceptance. It often includes some kind of meaningful ritual or creative expression to memorialize the loss. I don't believe necessarily in "getting closure" for a particular loss. Rather, I see the goal as being able to accept the loss, integrate it as part of your experience, and not be consumed by intense emotion related to the loss. We can't control what happened, but what we do have choices as far as what to do with the loss and how we respond to it.
Please see the section above on "Addiction." Also included in this category are behaviors such as cutting, food restricting, bingeing, purging, risky sexual behaviors, gambling, excessive shopping, video games, pornography, or anything else that ends up getting out of control and causing problems in a person's life. It takes a lot of courage to admit that you need help and it's a sign of health to reach out for help. I take a strengths-based approach rather than labeling a behavior as a weakness or "bad" behavior. People don't do anything unless they believe it will benefit them in some way. Self-destructive behaviors serve other perceived benefits and fill unmet needs whether we are aware of it or not. I can help you decode and decipher the reasons you may gravitate toward a particular compulsive behavior and try to be genuinely curious during this process rather than judgmental. We are all doing the best we can with what we have available to us at any given time. If you knew how to do things differently, you'd be doing them already and not reading this section! It's okay. You aren't a bad person. Life is hard and you are a human being trying to make it through as best you can. Thankfully, you can also learn new ways of thinking and behaving to improve your quality of life. I can help you every step of the way.
I offer a 30 minute free consultation so we can meet in person rather than just talk on the phone. If you've never had therapy before or have some specific questions or concerns you'd like to address, I encourage you to contact me and schedule a consultation. You really have nothing to lose. My office is located in the Nourishing Journey Wellness Center which has a cafe, so at the very least you can try a delicious smoothie while you are there!
"Stacey is an impeccable listener who makes me feel comfortable and not judged, no matter what I bring to the table. Stacey is a therapist for the heart, body, and soul, not just the mind. Working with Stacey has helped me banish some old, deep-seated, highly detrimental beliefs about myself that I feared I could never eliminate from my psyche. Straight cognitive-behavioral therapy leaves me cold, but art making, Focusing, Parts work, and Inner Journey help me change my views of self and the world on a visceral, emotional--not just an intellectual--level. "
~K.G., age 67
"For me, depression and anxiety can be isolating and torturous. There are times when I cannot see light at the end of the tunnel. My partnership with Stacey is at times, my lifeline. Stacey offers a wide range of tools and resources for healthy living. Her work is goal oriented and I credit Stacey's effective work and partnership for much of my progress towards healthy daily living."
~P.J., age 56
"Going to Stacey is probably the best decision I have ever made in my life. Complete game changer! If I'm paying someone to help me get through a stressful time and help me for a healthier and stronger mind, I expect them to actually listen and have to use their knowledge and experience to help me along the way. Everything from listening, working through strategies to help with stress or just yoga. Her approach is so multifaceted that even on the days when I wasn't "in the mood for therapy" she is always able to help me make progress."
~H.B., age 34
"Working with Stacey has enabled me to face many situations from my past and to recognize that they all have played a part in my becoming the woman that I am today. Although they have been painful to uncover, and not easily faced, Stacey has been most patient, non-judgmental, caring and wise in her counsel. I've been able to draw on discussions from my sessions with her on many occasions and have found strength inwardly that I didn't realize I had before spending valuable time with her."
~M.L., age 68
Please contact me with questions or to schedule your 30 minute free consultation. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 410-206-8573.
8975 Guilford Rd., Suite 170, Columbia, MD 21046
Hours vary depending on availability. Currently I have morning weekday slots as well as Saturday times.