How I Work

Therapeutic Approaches

Amy Gray practices collaborative therapy

A Collaborative Therapy Approach

A Collaborative Approach to Therapy

I believe in collaborative therapy, which means that I work together one-on-one with my clients to find solutions to the problems they are having. Most people seek counseling because they are having problems in their lives and want help in making positive changes. I am here to help you set goals and implement those changes and achieve the results you seek. I specialize in working with couples looking to reconnect and strengthen their relationship and individuals who desire to rid themselves of old, destructive beliefs and behaviors and replace them with constructive new ways of living life.

Tailored to Your Goals and Needs for Therapy

I design an individual plan for each client (individuals and couples) based specifically on the needs each brings into therapy and use a number of different techniques. I believe it is important to have a map of where you want to go, but it is also important to feel free to adjust that map. We work at your pace.

Beginning with an End in Mind

Stephen Covey, talks about knowing where you’re headed before you begin. I believe in the same principle. Therapy shouldn’t be some vague, never-ending journey but a road towards an ‘end-in-mind’. Do you want to strengthen and deepen a committed relationship, overcome anxiety, get past the fears and the habits that weigh you down? I’m always asking my clients ‘are we there yet’? And we do get there, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly and sometimes when we arrive, we realize there are other destinations we need to reach.

The Tools and Techniques of Therapy

I’m not a jack-of-all-trades therapist. I’ve found from over 10 years in private practice and hundreds of clients helped that different approaches work better in different situations. EMDR can be extremely effective in dealing with deeply-rooted trauma. PACT is a powerful approach for healing, building and strengthening couples relationships. IFS acknowledges that are inner ‘parts’ are not always pulling in the same direction and works to integrate these into a cohesive and empowering whole. Dealing with Anxiety can require a multitude of approaches.

In this section you’ll find information, descriptions and resources about many of these and other approaches I incorporate into the work we do together. Please feel free to ask questions on these or other therapeutic approaches.

EMDR: A Powerful Trauma Treatment

What is EMDR?   EMDR—Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing—is a revolutionary therapy proven by research to be effective in the treatment and relief of a wide range of disorders. It is a simple, non-invasive patient-therapist collaboration in which healing can happen rapidly and does not involve the use of drugs or hypnosis. What problems are helped by EMDR? Studies to date show a high degree of effectiveness with the following conditions: trauma fears anxiety childhood trauma phobias physical abuse sexual abuse rape victims of violent crimes post traumatic stress depression overwhelming fears panic attacks low self-esteem performance and test anxiety What is the procedure? The core of the procedure involves the client focusing on a pre-selected specific image or remembered sensations while the therapist uses “bilateral stimulation”. The types of bilateral stimulation include either guiding the client’s eye movements back and forth or using “beepers”; certain tactile or auditory stimuli which have been demonstrated to be effective. Each set of bilateral stimulation can last between several seconds to several minutes. After each set, the client is instructed to just notice whatever changes occur in the mind and body without controlling the experience in any way. The therapist then instructs the client to focus on a new modified image and once again performs the bilateral stimulation. What happens during EMDR? When disturbing experiences happen, they are stored in the limbic brain with all the sights, sounds, thoughts and feelings that accompany them. When a person is very upset, the brain seems to be unable to process and move on from the experience. Therefore, the negative thoughts and feelings of the... read more

IFS Therapy – A Cutting Edge Approach to Self Awareness and Healing

“IFS showed me how to love every aspect of myself in a specific way.” Dr. Jay Earley, IFS Practitioner and Author of Self Therapy What is IFS? IFS or Internal Family Systems is a method of therapy developed by Dr. Richard Schwartz, Ph. D. over the last 2+ decades. It believes that each of us encompasses, internally, a collection of ‘parts’ or subpersonalities that over time and for a variety of reasons become disintegrated with each other. Certain parts, labeled exiles, harbor deeply felt hurts, fears and shame. These ‘exiles’ are kept locked in our psyche by other parts who play the role of ‘managers‘ to keep the intense emotions of the exiles away from public view. Then you have the firefighters whose job is to protect the exiles from the intensity of their feelings by dousing those hot flames as soon as they appear. Unfortunately, this ‘firefighting’ activity, as we grow older and more removed from the source of the emotion, can cause more harm than good. The purpose of IFS therapy is to reintegrate these parts into a healthy, functioning whole under the core of Self. The Self, according to the Internal Family Systems approach, is the repository of our best qualities: perspective, leadership, confidence, compassion and acceptance. The chaos of our disparate parts often blocks our access to Self - a situation which IFS therapy works to remedy. An important precept of IFS is that there are no bad parts. Each part, when properly aligned with Self, has a very positive role to play in our integrated whole. We are complex beings and IFS gives us... read more

PACT – A Highly Effective Approach to Couples Therapy

After a lot of research into the most effective approaches to couples counseling, I made the decision to incorporate PACT: Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy® into my practice. PACT is a highly effective method for dealing with the seemingly intractable challenges couples may face. PACT was developed by Psychologist, Stan Tatkin, who combined cutting edge research from 3 fields: Neuroscience, how our brain’s physiological reactions influence our relationships; Attachment Theory, our biological need for connection; and “The biology of human arousal” which underpins our ability and desire to engage in the moment. Please follow the link below for a description of the PACT approach to couple’s therapy. PACT Resources from Dr. Tatkin What is PACT - an explanation of PACT and a description of a PACT therapy session Stan Tatkin’s Articles - a number of downloadable articles that provide insight and guidance for couples Is PACT right for you? If you’d like to find out how PACT can benefit your relationship please contact me for a private... read more

An Owners Manual for Your Relationship; The PACT Approach

“How can you not understand that I am exhausted and need you to be more helpful with the children?” Anna says wearily to Max. Max replies, “Anna, that’s ridiculous, I do help, I help all the time. I’m tired too. My job is killing me. If you need more help, call your mom.” What’s wrong with this exchange, one that I hear all the time in my office? What is going on underneath their words? Anna is asking her husband to hear and understand how tired she is. She wants him to care about how she feels and to offer to be there in the trenches with her. Unfortunately, her request includes a critical component (how can you not understand?). Her question also implies that her feelings of Max not being there for her has a long history. Max responds to her question and the implied criticism by shutting her down, telling her she is ridiculous and trying to get his needs met instead by telling her how exhausted he is. His response also suggests that he is sick and tired of hearing her complain about him. They have established their separate camps and no partnership or understanding is achieved. This is a no-win situation. What could Anna have said and how could Max have replied? If Anna had said, Max, I need you here with me and Max had been open to Anna, the story would have been different. In other words, if each of them understood better how the other ‘operates’. Couples Need an Ownership Manual Stan Tatkin, PsyD, creator of PACT couples therapy, has for years... read more

Energizing a Tired Part – Internal Family Systems

I was working with a client recently on an Internal Family Systems (IFS) exercise. IFS (by Richard Schwartz) is an amazing kind of therapy which involves the use of “parts”. Basically, in IFS, the individual gets to know his or her different parts, which involve protective parts and hurt parts. One of the basic premises of IFS is that the protective parts work to keep the individual living their life without the hurt parts getting hurt more. However, what actually happens is that the protective parts (which were often learned at a young age) can stifle the individual’s growth and keep the individual from achieving his or her goals. Parts Have Conflicting Agendas So while getting to know a few of my client’s different parts, a tired part came forward. My client suddenly felt very tired and didn’t want to keep working. Instead, we agreed to try to get to know the tired part a little better. My client discovered that when anything got too hard or threatened change, a tired part would come up to protect her. Because she’s just assumed she is lazy, she was amazed that being tired was actually a very strategic protective part of her which was keeping her from achieving things she wanted to do. In doing so, it was also protecting her from having to feel pain. IFS Helps Our Parts Cooperate We all have protective parts and hurt parts. When you think, “Part of me feels like this, but another part feels this way,” your parts are vying for your attention. The best way to begin to become aware of your different... read more