About suzanne ____________
My passion in life is helping people recover from complex childhood trauma. For me, it’s both process-intensive and a labor of love.
My mission is to help as many people as I can, through a process of therapy and transformational tools, who are stuck in the haunting maze of complex trauma, in a world where it often goes unrecognized and untreated due to stigma and lack of awareness.
I am a licensed professional counselor, IFS therapist, couples counselor, grief group facilitator, and certified clinical trauma specialist, with over two decades of experience, understanding and knowledge working in private practice.
I am trained in different treatment modalities and individualize therapy sessions based on my client's needs and readiness to do the work. The main treatment approaches I use specifically for trauma/c-ptsd is EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Brainspotting, Somatic/Body-Centered therapy and IFS (Internal Family Systems) Therapy. When working with couples, I have extensively studied Gottman, PACT, Imago, EFT (Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy) and IFIO (Intimacy from the Inside Out).
I'm just as passionate about my work as a therapist today as I was the first time I worked with a client in graduate school. It's my calling and I continue to study, train and expand the range of my own inner life, as the foundation of my field. I know there is always more to learn.
I hold a B.A. in Psychology and Human Development and an M.A. in Counseling Psychology (see my CV). My clients tell me that they feel safe with and respected by me and value the unique way they see themselves through the process of the work they experience in our sessions.
What stands out as a few of many guiding principles in my clinical work:
* I value and recognize my client's strengths, past successes and core beliefs, as well as their true Self as the resources that must be identified in therapy before we delve into the deeper work.
* Much of human behavior is unconsciously motivated with an internal system of countless parts (memories, sensations, beliefs) interacting with each other and within us that we need to find, unburden and be in relationship with to live a 'self-led' existence. (Richard Schwartz).
* Traumatic experiences, the unexpected catastrophes of life, affect the functioning of the whole person physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
* The work of Irvin Yalom, MD, taught me the value of regular client feedback as necessary to keep therapy on track and effective.
* Lengthy therapy is not necessarily better treatment and each client is different so the work needs to follow what the client needs.
* The work of Alice Miller, PhD, taught the importance of doing my own inner healing work to understand my clients and the deep wounding in childhood caused by punitive narcissistic parenting.
* Individuals and couples in pain or in crisis, are not necessarily ready to make changes when they start therapy. Rushing into treatment and focusing on the pain often backfires.
* The work of Dr. Besel Van der Kolk, MD, taught me that we can regulate our own physiology, of the body and brain, and this comes through self-care activities like abdominal breathing, yoga and body work, writing, music, laughter, and touch.
* IFS has been the most influential therapy model, developed by Richard Schwartz, PhD, by which I view the world, my interactions and relationships, and helped me become a more authentic Self.
My story and inspirations _________
I was born in Istanbul, a city that bridges East and West, and raised in a cross-cultural family. This both broadened and narrowed my perspective because I often felt like an outsider growing up, not as “American” as everyone else I knew. I was a highlysensitive child and was curious about people, feelings and behaviors, quietly watching and listening to the adults around me. People would always come to me with their problems starting when I was fairly young, around 9 or 10 years old. I remember the first time I considered working in the field of therapy and healing. I was 16 years old, listening to a trusted mentor in my life who was taking a volunteer group of teens I had joined, to the Mohawk reservation in upstate New York. I was active in social justice and support with this volunteer group and knew I wanted to have a career where I could continue to help people recover and heal from emotional and relational trauma. Having been exposed to people from Middle Eastern, European and Native cultures had an enduring impact on me and nourished my curiosity about trauma and traditional and alternative approaches to mental health care and healing. Following my education in Psychology, Human Development and Counseling, I began training in various methods of psychotherapy, integrating mindfulness, somatic, cognitive, gestalt, existential, holistic and trauma-focused approaches to psychotherapy. I completed a one-year clinical internship in attachment-focused therapy working with infants and children, where I gained a deep understanding of attachment related issues and human bonding. After completing my graduate studies, I worked as a clinical social caseworker focused on children and families experiencing physical and sexual violence and abuse. During this period of my early clinical mental health experience I was working with individuals and families from diverse cultures and geographical locations and educational and economic backgrounds. It was perhaps the lessons learned during this time in my career that taught me about catastrophic trauma and how not to be afraid; that traumatized children and adults might just need to be hugged and given tools to release intense fear and contraction that is causing physical symptoms and pain. The courage shown and trust given by all the children and people I have worked with who have experienced great adversity have all contributed to my understanding about human life and how people need to heal. This is all part of my story and my inherent ability to 'envision' healing for my clients, even when they cannot do so.
I also experienced my share of childhood trauma and I've come to understand what this is and it's impact on my life through my own personal experience and healing journey. Both my life and my work necessitated inner healing work that I spent a decade doing. It was healing and amazing and helped me to fine tune a skillful therapy practice, working with people seeking support from trauma and mental health issues in my community.
My interest in psychology and human behavior started at a young age. In my early years I was living in an exotic landscape of colors, languages, foods, flowers, smells and daily sounds of the call to prayer. The outside world was vivid and alive but my family life and inner world, was not. My parents were for the most part, inattentive and neglectful, and when I was very young, they left me in the care of a nanny and when I was older, they left me for extended periods of time alone at home. I began reading at a very young age where I learned to travel inside myself, and inside the lives of others, to feel happy and find meaning and inspiration. It was through books and stories that I received connection and I read myself to sleep most nights, until I went off to college. Stories, words and ideas would always just light up my soul! Even now, I continue to be a voracious reader in my adult life.
I'm a mother to a college-age daughter and I live near the mountains in Colorado with two handsome cats. I enjoy cooking, yoga, meditation, swimming, hiking in the beautiful mountains, reading, writing, music, dancing, occasional painting, and different kinds of movies and performance entertainment and cultural activities with good friends.
I appreciate you joining me here and I look forward to supporting you on your healing journey.