Tamara Sharifov, LCSW
Acceptance & Commitment Therapy
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) works to assist you in accepting the aspects of our experience that cannot be change, while assisting in orienting your behavior towards the phenomena we can. This then creates a space for the acceptance of the inevitable pains of life, while organizing our behavior towards purpose and meaning. Through extensive research, ACT has proven that instead of viewing our thoughts as a problem, it is our relation with these painful emotions that is the core ingredient to our struggles.
ACT utilizes a combination of methods to help promote acceptance and healing from historical wounds. these methods include mindfulness-based strategies, emotional exposure, assessing of behavioral workability, and more. This then helps foster present-moment awareness, decreasing of reactivity to painful thoughts – memories - emotional responses, promotes values oriented decision making, and decreasing avoidance based behaviors. As your therapist, I will help you to identify rule-governed behaviors, and foster a clear understanding of your values through values-guided behavioral interventions. Through this experiential framework, ACT assists in decreasing avoidance, transforming emotion pain into sources of wisdom, and discovering what bring purpose in day-to-day life.
Contextual - Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical Behavioral Therapist is an evidenced based treatment that has been proven to significantly improve a vast amount of presenting concerns. These can include PTSD, complex trauma, suicidality, self-harm, substance use, aggressive/violent behaviors, anxiety, depression, and more. DBT is both exposure-based in implementation and focused on improving behavioral management during moments of excessive distress and emotion dysregulation. Mindfulness practice, Commitment strategies, emotional exposure, and value-oriented behavioral change are an integral part of treatment. A minimum six-month commitment is requested in order to cover the four modules of DBT: Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, Distress Tolerance, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. This helps ensure true behavior change and progress towards healing can be achieved. Once stage one of treatment is complete, stage two trauma treatment can be explored.
Specifically, I offer a form of DBT called Contextual – Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (C-DBT.) I was extensively training by the creator of this modality, and continue to work alongside Dr. Paul Homes in its continued evolvement into the field of psychology. This form of DBT is identical to traditional DBT - both in its structuring of treatment, as well as the clinical concerns it addresses. However, it differs in its psychological orientation of approaching psychological processes. Rather than from a CBT perspective, C-DBT is built from the foundations of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Once stage one of treatment is complete, stage two trauma treatment can be explored.
DBT Modified Prolonged Exposure (DBT-PE)
DBT-Prolonged Exposure (PE) is an effective, research based approach designed for treating single traumatic events, or complex and chronic traumatic experiences. Understandable reactions to trauma can interfere in regaining stability in life, disrupt important relationships, exasperate emotional or physical pain/illness, and distract from the ability to attend to life in the present moment.
DBT-PE can either be once a client has gained behavioral mastering through stage one of C-DBT, or as the primary form of treatment at the onset of therapy – if the individual is able to maintain behavioral control over life-threatening and major quality-of-life behaviors. Typical duration ranges from 10-20 sessions, which are 60-90 minutes each. DBT-PE allows for an individual to practice facing specific traumatic memories within a safe context, allowing the brain to properly resolve the memory. Over time, this also provides space for protective/avoidant behaviors to soften, opening the opportunity to regaining your desired life once again.
Mindfulness Based Practice
Through meditative based philosophies, movement towards gaining present moment awareness is an integral part of treatment. The principles of becoming a silent observer of our mental processes without reactivity allows for a space of true acceptance of one’s experience. I have extensive clinical training in mindfulness based treatment. Both gained through close supervisory oversight during implementation in treatment, as well as through years of studies and practice of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.
Experiential Focused Therapy
Research has long confirmed that all experiences, and especially traumatic ones can become stored in our nervous system. This results in a pattern of brain firing that replicates feelings from the traumatic event, as if it’s happening ‘all over again.’ Given the unquestionable reality of the “mind-body” connection, it is important the body has an opportunity to release this energy in a safe and control manner. Through intentional guidance of the therapist, you will learn to catch your thoughts. I will guide you to those places in the body that repeatedly become physically activated, while giving your body an opportunity to engage in its natural process of dissipating this energy.