Getting Started in Therapy
Welcome and Congratulations! You are on the road to creating an even better life for yourself! Before your first session with Dr. Sells, there are some important things to consider...
The Primary Importance of a Positive and Solid Therapist-Client Relationship...
There is a large body of research evidence which points to the primacy of the
relationship between therapist and client being the singlemost important predictor of a successful therapy experience. I am committed to relationship building with clients within the context of being a fellow human being who is also on the path of self-discovery and positive personal growth. I actively cultivate a non-judgmental atmosphere for clients to feel safe, protected and free to explore and uncover within themselves whatever is present and true for them in sessions. With this in mind, I welcome and encourage regular client feedback regarding the therapeutic relationship in order to best serve clients' needs and meet their concerns with professionalism, compassion and an open mind.
What is EMDR Therapy?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is based upon the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model. When we have distressing things happen to us (bullying, death of a loved one, divorce, job loss, violence at home, etc.), they can overwhelm our brain's ability to effectively digest these distressing experience(s). We can get locked into maladaptive ways of coping with ourselves and the people around us because of not being able to really process the distressing things that happen to us. Intense and prolonged emotional suffering may be the result of our brains being too overwhelmed to effectively and adaptively process what has happened.
EMDR therapy uses bilateral stimulation of the brain's hemispheres via eye movements, tones, and/or tactile stimulation while invoking the disturbing event during the therapy session. Like the biophysiological and neurochemical mechanisms involved in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, in EMDR the brain reprocesses disturbing events with dual focus on the bilateral stimulation. Adaptive information that was previously blocked or unaccessible to the parts of the brain that housed the disturbing memory(ies) becomes interwoven with the disturbing memory. The distressing emotions, body sensations and maladaptive thoughts connected with the distress literally fall away from the memory of the disturbing event(s) as a result of EMDR therapy. People experience accelerated healing with this method that may take talk therapy months and years to achieve. EMDR therapy research has proven that referral issues may successfully be handled in a fraction of the time that it typically takes to achieve in traditional talk therapy.
Clients entering into EMDR therapy will need to be ready to access and tolerate their disturbing material in thought, feeling and body sense. For this reason, it is very important to prepare sufficiently before beginning the dual attention to bilateral stimulation and the disturbing event(s). In some cases, It may be necessary to take session time prior to desensitization and reprocessing for building skills for emotional containment and stabilization and/or building a body awareness of feeling states. In any case, I am sensitive to each client's unique needs and works collaboratively with each client to form an individually tailored treatment plan for complete symptom/problem resolution.
Other Theoretical Orientations & Methods Used in Dr. Sells' Private Practice...
Because people are complex and unique, I have developed a flexible approach to treating problems of daily living and psychological concerns. Sometimes EMDR therapy is best combined with other orientations with their associated interventions. People have differnt learning styles and individual ways of making sense of themselves and the world. For these reasons, I also use the below theoretical orientations and methods based upon the best fit for my clients.
Depth psychology explores the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious mind; it focuses on uncovering the underlying psychological sources of behaviors, conflicts, relationships, family dynamics, etc. When using this orientation, I work together with clients to increase awareness via mindfulness practices, to find meaning and purpose from life's difficulties, and move toward psychological balance and integrity. The analysis of dreams and overarching/repeating symbolic patterns are central to using this method of therapy. Persons who feel comfortable working with their innate creativity and non-linear reasoning are well suited to this approach.
In employing psycho-spiritual psychology, clients' unique culture of spirituality is brought into focus as a means of understanding and treating psychotherapy issues and the quest for meaningful and positive living. The intention is not so much to change our spiritual experience, but to see more clearly how we relate to it. This awareness of how things really are opens up the possibility of bringing more conscious choice into our lives. While I do not assume any particular wisdom tradition as being more valid or valuable than any other, I respect clients' choices or non-choice regarding faith-based experience in therapy. In the psycho-spiritual method, I recommend some form of meditation (e.g., quiet contemplation on God as the client understands God, Transcendental Meditation, vipassana meditation, etc.) and body movement exercise (e.g., power walking, dance, martial arts, yoga, cardio kickboxing, etc.) as a regular practice to ground psycho-spiritual growth.
In treating couples, I employ the method of Pragmatic-Experiental Therapy for Couples (PET-C) which is based on over 40 years of research that has investigated what makes couples dysfunctional and destined to failure and what makes couples happy and healthy long-term. The ultimate goal in using this method is to get couples into the daily practice of employing the attitudes and habits of healthy couples identified in the research literature. A combination of individual, and joint sessions with both partners is part of the treatment protocol. In the PET-C method, clients use a structured workbook with homework assignments and is designed to be completed within a 3- to 6-month timeframe. Importantly, the PET-C method does not require both members of the couple to be in treatment together for a successful outcome.