What Exactly Is EMDR? Phase 2


In phase two, let the resourcing begin. I love this phase for many reasons, but one is because for many it’s the first ever opportunity to learn coping skills and tools needed for improved functioning. Relief happens here. For some this looks like improving relaxation skills and for others it’s talking about developing radical self safe practice. This phase is also about developing the therapeutic relationship and strengthening the bond. ⁣⁣
This phase can last one session but more often than not it looks like a few sessions to develop skills required to better function day-to-day and in turn feel better prepared to process what has been stuck. This is also where I get to provide interventions from various treatment modalities and match it to what the person in front of me is needing and asking for. ⁣⁣
// Phase 2// ⁣⁣
EMDRIA describes....⁣⁣
”During the Preparation Phase, the therapist will explain the theory of EMDR, how it is done, and what the person can expect during and after treatment. Finally, the therapist will teach the client a variety of relaxation techniques for calming him or herself in the face of any emotional disturbance that may arise during or after a session. Learning these tools is an important aid for anyone. The happiest people on the planet have ways of relaxing themselves and decompressing from life's inevitable, and often unsuspected, stress. One goal of EMDR therapy is to make sure that the client can take care of him or herself.⁣⁣”

What Exactly Is EMDR? Phase 1


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of therapy that helps people heal from trauma or other distressing life experiences. It has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. ⁣

I’m a Level II Trained EMDR clinician and was trained by the EMDR Institute. At True Growth, I often provide an integrative approach of using art therapy and EMDR — bringing together different approaches of bilateral stimulation to provide therapy than is more than just words. ⁣

More and more often I’m asked the questions: “what is EMDR exactly?” “How does it work?” “When do we get to the light thing?” ⁣

EMDR includes eight phases and each phase plays its part in the role of healing traumatic wounds. EMDR is more than the strange lights and finger wagging! ⁣

// Phase 1 // ⁣

In the first phase of EMDR treatment, the therapist takes a thorough history of the client and develops a treatment plan. This phase will include a discussion of the specific problem that has brought him or her into therapy, the behaviors and symptoms stemming from that problem. With this information, the therapist will develop a treatment plan that defines the specific targets on which to use EMDR.⁣

With this information, the therapist will develop a treatment plan that defines the specific targets on which to use EMDR. These targets include the event(s) from the past that created the problem, the present situations that cause distress, and the key skills or behaviors the client needs to learn for their future well-being. ⁣


If you feel EMDR might be the right fit for you, please ask your therapist if they were trained at an EMDRIA-approved training so that you know you’re getting EMDR evidenced-based treatment. What many clients don’t know is that there are many iterations and ‘takes’ on EMDR therapy/tapping/etc but the 8 phase protocol developed by Francine Shapiro is where all of that lovely evidenced based research is.

EMDR, More Than Just An Effective Trauma Treatment

EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is a type of therapy that gives people the opportunity to heal from adverse life events or other traumatic life experiences.

EMDR is an evidenced based practice meaning there have been many, many, many trials of using EMDR and proven effective in treating symptoms related to trauma exposure.

Many people who have been through other talk therapy treatments without much effectiveness can also tremendously improve by trying a different approach such as EMDR.

As an EMDR Level 2 trained clinician, I offer EMDR therapy to a variety of folks. EMDR is becoming more and more widely known — especially after the American Red Cross endorsed EMDR as their effective trauma treatment. But what many people do not know is that EMDR can be helpful for many than just PTSD.

EMDRIA describes EMDR to be helpful with a variety of issues such as:

EMDR therapy helps children and adults - all ages. Therapists use EMDR with a wide range of challenges:

  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias

  • Chronic Illness and medical issues

  • Depression and bipolar disorders

  • Dissociative disorders

  • Eating disorders

  • Grief and loss

  • Pain

  • Performance anxiety

  • Personality disorders

  • PTSD and other trauma and stress related issues

  • Sexual assault

  • Sleep disturbance

  • Substance abuse and addiction

  • Violence and abuse

EMDR about healing memories and not just for war veterans or those who have experienced physical abuse. EMDR might be the right fit for you. You can find out more about EMDR and how to find an EMDR therapist on: www.EMDRIA.org

Can I Really Avoid That "Freeze” Moment When I'm Confronted?

That moment. When someone comes at you in a tone where you know nothing good is going to come from this conversation…

If someone approaches you with offensive commentary, an aggressive stance, or dumps misplaced feelings into you —-most of us go into a flight, fight, or freeze mode. We don't really know what to do with that comment. ⁣

More often than not, I hear folks share experiences about “freezing”, not saying anything, and continuing to hold on to that unpleasant interaction. We may even beat ourselves up for not saying anything. ⁣

I can identify with this. Growing up in Texas as a woman, behavior was modeled for me and more often than not I used to freeze and carry all those unpleasant emotions that didn’t belong to me. ⁣

So I want to share this ‘life hack’ that I learned from my previous therapist. It helps to have a phrase to remember so one is less likely to freeze. ⁣

Here it is. One statement. ⁣

🌟 “I feel uncomfortable with ________.” ⁣

Ex: aggressively postured co-worker begins to make de-valuing statements, demeaning you, and ordering things for you to do as if they were your boss. ⁣

“I feel uncomfortable with the way you’re speaking to me.” ⁣

Yes there will be about 3-5 seconds of awkward silence, but it always passes. Many times people don’t know how they sound or even if their actions are out of line. ⁣

One you get the hang of naming what makes you uncomfortable, that once negative interaction turns into a beautiful assertive experience. You can’t control others’ response and you aren’t responsible for their feelings. But truly most the time the other person apologizes. ⁣

You are only responsible for your feelings. Don’t try and make the world “comfortable” at the expense of your own wellbeing. It’s not worth it.

Should I Meet with a Therapist Who is Younger Than Me?

Results Are Never Instant.png

One of the things you may notice about me is that I’m…how do you say it…fresh-faced? Sprightly?

 Sometimes people wonder whether they can truly benefit from psychotherapy with a younger therapist. Here’s where I happily report that yes, you absolutely can.

Here’s why.

1.    Research

Research indicates the biggest predictor of success in therapy is not the amount of life lived, but rather something that is called the therapeutic alliance (Lynch, 2012). The therapeutic alliance simply put is the bond between therapist and client. When looking for a therapist, it’s all about the right fit and quality of the relationship.  Research consistently shows that a more experienced therapist does not generate more successful results, even though one might think otherwise (Ardito, Rabellino, 2011).  

In the therapy world, there are both skilled and less skilled therapists. Just like any other profession, there is a spectrum in the quality of service provided to you, the client/consumer/patient.  The truth is I’ve met people with very little experience who have the incredible ability to build a therapeutic alliance just as much as therapists who have been in the field 25+ years.

Having sat on both on the couch and in the chair, the first contacts with your therapist provide you with a great sense about that fit.  Therapy is your time and I believe that the beginning stages of therapy are about exploring and building the therapeutic alliance.

2.    Fierce desire for growth

During my clinical internship, one of my supervisors said “if you think you’ve got it all figured out, that’s when you are really in trouble”. I’ve held on to that sentiment not only because I believe it’s true, but also it speaks to the misconception that experience is the leading influence on ability to provide therapeutic services.

Many young therapists have an energetic and fierce desire for learning. Complacency is the enemy of clinical growth. The longer we do something, naturally people may feel they have it figured it out. Younger therapists may be more in touch with their difficulties, shortcomings, and areas for growth as a therapist by virtue of being relative newcomers to the field, only having 3,5, or 10 field experience. But having this awareness is key in the ability to grow as a therapist. In other words, its very difficult to grow if you think you have it all figured out.

3.    Industry Standards

Although we may not be conscious of it, very few people have serious discomfort about seeing medical residents or doctors fresh out of medical school. In fact, we may reason these doctors have cutting edge research and trained in the latest medical techniques that medical industry has to offer. Yet, when we think about mental health needs, suddenly these same realities are seen as a liability.

I imagine part of this is due to a misunderstanding on the true nature of counseling. To many, counseling is supposed to involve a meeting with soothsayer who looks into their psychological crystal ball and pronouncing what you are doing wrong and how to fix it. If this is the case, then of course you’d want someone who has spent years and year fine tuning their crystal-ball gazing. And believe me, there are those therapists out their dying for someone to sit at their feet. (HINT: Run away fast!). Perhaps to the chagrin of many therapists, we have no special powers.

 We are just people who are trained to listen in a particular way and then tell you what we see. Deciding what to do next and where to go from there is up to you, and a good therapist should put you in the driver’s seat, even when you try to squirm out of it. Therapists come along for the ride, and are willing to cry when you cry, rejoice when you rejoice, they can’t do the work for you. Your ability to trust what we say and incorporate it into your life is predicted on how well we can connect with you, not on our chronological age.

So, not only am I a therapist, but I’ve been to plenty. There’s good therapists out there and some really not-so-good-ones. I have no problem being honest about that. It’s just that being young or old doesn’t seem to impact the reality one way or another.

That is to say, there’s nothing wrong with seeing an older therapist if that’s what is important to you in some way. I have seen a good number of them myself, and they’ve been helpful.

I’m professional, non-judgmental, and expert in my specialties; however, I’m also youthful, energetic, and lively and I’ve seen these qualities become contagious. I’m certain you will be pleased with the outcome!

 Looking for counseling in Sacramento? Get your life back today! Start by making this simple call!

(916) 538-9288

Feel more comfortable with email? No problem, you can reach out to TrueGrowthTherapy@gmail.com


Signs Your Child Might Be Anxious


How can I spot anxiety in my child or children?

Does my child need child counseling to help with anxiety?

Anxiety can be tricky to spot in children. Anxiety can also have a huge impact on a child’s ability to thrive in a school setting.

For many parents, anxiety is challenging to see in children because it doesn’t tend to look like what it is. Even teachers may send a child for learning disorder testing and nothing is identified.

A child suffering from anxiety in school may look like acting out, difficulty following directions, or not able to sit down when asked. A child may be studying furiously, but when it’s time for the test the child draws a blank. These are some examples of what anxiety can look like for children in a school setting.

If you believe your child might be suffering from anxiety then I encourage you to reach out as soon as possible to a licensed therapist who specializes in child counseling in your area.

There is hope. Your child can heal from anxiety, learn coping tools, and find their groove in school. 

Where is my LGBTQ family?

Feeling like a burden?

Perhaps you or a loved one is lonely and disconnected from the LGBTQ+ community .


It’s tough to know how to get out there after you’ve just come out, moved to a city, or experienced a shift or change.

Many different types of communities and families exist around your city. The people whom we surround ourselves with have a huge impact on our well being. We are humans after all. Whether it be your biological or chosen family they are out there — in person, online, or sitting right next to you. Community and being connected to one another does wonders for our mental health.

There’s no doubt there are wonderful LGBTQ+ resources out there, but the connection doesn’t always happen. It can be scary to make the call, show up, and engage with new people. Working with a professional therapist can give you that extra push and ultimately support you to increase a sense of belonging.

I have created a running list of LGBTQ+ resources both in Sacramento and around the globe. Feel free to contact me if you know of other resources or would like to be placed on the list below


LGBTQ+ Resources

Hotlines and Self-Help

The Trevor Project
Hotline: 866-488-7386
Chat: thetrevorproject.org/lifelinechat
Q&A: thetrevorproject.org/asktrevor/
Social network: trevorspace.org              

Crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.

24hr Suicide Prevention Crisis Line         


Crisis Chat


~or~ text the word HOPE to 916-668-iCAN

Local LGBTQ Community Centers:

Sacramento LGBT Community Center

1927 L Street

Sacramento, CA 95811

916-442-0185 xt 100


Trained peers facilitate support groups for LGBT your/adults, coming out groups and a transgender support group.  Assistance in finding LGBT affirming counseling referrals.


PFLAG Sacramento

916- 978-0410  


PFLAG is a grassroots network of parents, families, friends and allies.

Local LGBTQ Health Center:

Gender Health Center

2020 29th St. Ste 21

Sacramento, CA 95817



Individual and couples counseling, hormone clinic for people who are transgender, legal clinics and name and gender change assistance.



Sacramento LGBTQ Resource Centers/Organizations:

Trans Resource Center through UCDavis


Provides referrals to trans-friendly doctors in the Sacramento region.


Gay-Straight Alliance

A support network for student-run clubs that bring together LGBTQ and straight students to support each other, provide a safe place to socialize, and create a platform for activism to fight homophobia and transphobia.

*College students* Campus Pride

A national organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students.

Golden Rule Services

(916) 427-4653


From their website: "Golden Rule Services offers a variety of free and confidential HIV, STD and Hepatitis C education and prevention services that are accessible, affordable and culturally and linguistically appropriate." This organization serves anyone in need of services, however, the founding ideology was based on the need to provide services for minorities within the community. In addition to testing and crises intervention, they also offer support groups for latina/latino and African American members of the community.


The Lavender Library

(916) 492-0558


From their website: "We loan books, periodicals, and DVD videos of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender interest to members, collect items that preserve the LGBT experience in the Sacramento area and sponsor lectures, exhibits and cultural events for the community.”

There are also many online communities for LGBTQ+ individuals. Used safely, the internet can provide a sense of community for many folks who may prefer to talk online.

Need help talking to a loved one?


When someone you love appears to be “off” or “not acting like themselves”, it’s hard to know what to say and how to help.

Here are four quick and solid tips.

What do I say? I don’t think they want to talk about it. What if I make them “more depressed”? Even though my loved one seems out of balance, they seem to be managing it so I’ll leave it alone. Our intentions are inherently good — we want to help.

Depression manifests in so many different ways. It visits people in a variety of forms and affects people differently — so how can I help ____loved one_____ ?


Sometimes it’s hard to know if your friend is going through a rough patch or is experiencing something like depression and/or anxiety. Your loved one may appear a mess or even irritable. The important thing to look for are changes and when you notice these changes check in with them about it. 


Listen to your loved one. Simple enough, but just sitting and listening can make a incredible impact. Resist any urges to “fix it” and encourage them to continue sharing with a mental health professional. 


It’s hard to start the conversation with your loved one. Even though the person may not feel like talking, you try. “I’ve noticed you look down lately. I don’t know how to, but I’m here to help.” Or “you seem sad lately. How can I help you?”. Starting the conversation is a way to bring light into a dark place. Depression thrives in darkness and subsides in the light. 


Encourage your loved one to get help from a professional. The person may want to start by telling another support like a family member or community member about what’s been going on. Help them find professional help and even help them make their first appointment if necessary. These tips ebb and flow depending on unique traits and circumstances. If they don’t feel comfortable with the first health professional, then you could help them find another. 

Be yourself. Be a good listener. And don’t give up on them. 

An Art Therapist? For me?


There is good news!

Art therapy is not concerned how the art product turns out. ⁣⁣Yes, stick figures are just as good as realistic drawings in art therapy treatment. ⁣

For some clients, art therapy treatment doesn’t include drawing at all. Art therapy uses the language of metaphors.⁣
The artwork you create does not have to be aesthetically pleasing or even finished. In my clinical experiences, I have used a variety of art therapy interventions with everyone from toddlers to life-sentenced elderly inmates.⁣⁣
Many therapists use art in therapy, but only a handful in this area are certified and trained in clinical art therapy. When seeking art therapist for you or your child, I encourage folks to look for appropriate credentials and educational experience. ⁣⁣⁣⁣
The American Art Therapy association is a great resource in finding a credentialed art therapist in your area. But art therapist friendly tip: the letters looks something like ATR, ATR-BC, ATR-P, and ATCS near or around their name. ⁣⁣
If you don’t know — ask the therapist about their training — about art therapy credentials or anything otherwise. It is your time, your space, and deserve to find a therapist whom you have a clear sense of their education and training level. ⁣⁣

It's National Coming Out Day. Should I come out?


Many LGBTQ-identifying individuals come to the point where they ask themselves:

should I come out?

Even in 2018 coming out is one of the bravest things a person can do.

While working for the Los Angeles LGBT Center, I helped many clients navigate what “coming out” means for them in their individual lives’ and situations.

Coming out not only means coming out to your loved ones, but it also means that a person is willing to “dare greatly” despite potential societal discrimination and stigma about sexual orientation.

While working with individuals, families, and couples at the LGBT Center I quickly learned that no matter how many “coming out” trainings I attended or how much I reflected on my own coming out process, there is not a one-size-fits-all way to “come out”.

No one can tell you what coming out should look like and it’s a choice that takes confidence as it may change the way people regard you in certain ways. You can come out at any age and there is no “right way” to go about it.

It is always okay to come out, but it is important to take care of your emotional well-being during the process.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I emotionally ready to come out?

  • Would I be in immediate danger if I came out?

  • Is someone pressuring me to come out or is this what I want?

  • Do I have someone to talk to for support?

You are the only person on this earth who can decide what coming out looks like for you. But relying on other’s for support is also a huge part of the coming out process.

It’s okay to be afraid, but here are some things that can help you.

  • Try to avoid those who make you feel uneasy or unsafe about who you are.

  • Connect with other LGBTQ individuals

  • Support groups!

  • Reach out to loved ones that you can trust about your concerns and if you happen to be feeling unsafe.

  • Seek out therapy from an LGBTQ-affirming professional

Perhaps today on National Coming Out Day, coming out to yourself is enough or maybe you would like to call every family and friend and fly a rainbow flag in your room. Remember, safety should be on your mind when making these life choices, but it is understandable if you cannot withstand hiding your true self, or being 'closeted'.

Remember to take care of your emotional health, stay safe, and have a gay time.