"Studies in many countries have found that the difference between health and suffering is whether people are willing to experience the totality of their psychological and emotional world and still do what matters most to them. "
-John P. Forsyth, Ph.D. & Georg H. Eifert, Ph.D.
"Long-lasting responses to trauma result not simply from the experience of fear and helplessness but from how our bodies interpret those experiences."
-Rachel Yehuda, MD, Director of Traumatic Stress Studies Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Education and Licensure
I graduated from Alaska Pacific University with a doctorate degree in Counseling Psychology. In addition, I graduated from the University of Alaska with an M.S. in Clinical Psychology completing my practicum at the university based Psychological Services Center and my internship at Anchorage Community Mental Health Services. I also graduated from the University of Oregon with an M.S. in Human Resources Management and a B.S. in Psychology and Sociology with a minor in Business.
I am licensed by the Alaska State Board of Psychologist and Psychological Associate Examiners as a Licensed Psychologist.
Alaska Psychological Association
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute
My Approach To Therapy
I recognize that personal change is often a difficult process. I strive to provide a supportive, respectful and collaborative therapeutic environment where you can fully explore your concerns, challenges, and values. I support the humanistic principles that people are best helped by a therapist who is psychologically present and establishes a therapeutic environment that is accepting, empathic, and authentic. The relationship the client and therapist build is itself an important agent of change.
The following is not meant to be all inclusive but a brief overview of my primary therapeutic orientation. There is certainly no "one size fits all" approach in therapy and therefore its important to find a therapist you feel is a good fit for you.
I use what is often referred to as an "integrated" approach to therapy. In this context, the term integrated refers to using theory, therapy structure, and overall strategies and techniques from a variety of different therapeutic sources including person-centered, process-experiential, sensorimotor, Gestalt, cognitive, behavioral, and mindfulness-based approaches. My focus is grounded in a process-experiential approach to assist each individual in reaching their self-determined therapeutic goals. Clearly, no one approach or strategy is a good fit for everyone so it only makes sense we tailor therapy to your specific needs.
My work with trauma survivors is founded on the emirically based phase-oriented approach to therapy which involves Stage I: safety and stabilization which includes psychoeducation about the effects of trauma, focusing on emotional stability, bodily safety, safe coping skills, and living in the "here-and-now;" Stage II: coming to terms with your traumatic past at a pace set by you with an emphasis on personal respect, emotional regulation, and safety; and, Stage III: integrating your past and moving on with aspects of your life including reducing shame, guilt and fear, improving interpersonal relationships and the ability to trust, and developing meaning out of your past in a way that allows you to heal and live the life you deserve. This includes individual therapy and may include group therapy depending on your needs and preferences. In addition, I have completed the intensive Level I & II training in Sensorimotor Psychotherpay (SP) through the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute.
SP is particularly useful when working with the impact of trauma, abuse, emotional pain, and limiting belief systems. I seek to integrate SP interventions with all clients I work with as this approach is well suited to work with the "whole" person including cognitive, emotional and sensorimotor (sensation, impulses, and movement) domains.
One of the approaches I use with a variety of client presentations is referred to as Emotion-Focused Therapy. Emotion-Focused Therapy is an empirically supported humanistic approach that emphasizes the importance of identifying, allowing, and expressing your emotions/internal experiences and increasing your understanding of the information they provide so you can decide how to make desired changes to better meet the challenges of your everyday life. Emotionally Focused Therapy views emotion and cognition as inextricably intertwined.
In Emotionally-Focused Therapy, emotions are viewed as fundamental to healthy human functioning and are implicated in both adaptive and maladaptive functioning. Problems with emotional processing are considered to be at the core of client difficulties. Difficulties can result when elements of an individual's experience are neglected or avoided and not fully processed. Through the process of reflecting on our experiences, we are able to start making sense of these experiences. This can assist us in intergrating experience and lead to the creation of new meaning. Process-experiential therapy is focused on moment-by-moment, in session experience. My role is to help individuals identify and accept "make room" for their internal experience, reflect on it, understand it, create new meaning, and develop new, effective ways of responding.
If we are able to understand what the emotion is all about, it will provide us guidance and direction in what to do about it. Emotions provide useful information about our well being, what's importan to us, they help us identify and evaluate our wants, needs, and concerns, and prepare us to take adaptive action through increased flexibility in responding.
The focus is to assist you in accessing new more adaptive emotional resources, transform maladaptive responses, and increase your understanding of emotional experiences in the service of constructing new meaning and living more vitally and adaptively. All therapies in one way or another work with emotions. Working with emotions is a central aspect of psychotherapy. (Greenberg & Paivio, 2007) Another empirically based approach I use is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ("ACT" pronounced as one word). ACT is a mindfulness-based, experiential, values driven behavior therapy. It's difficult to briefly describe the many and growing collection of unique as well as borrowed therapeutic techniques, procedures, and exercises associated with this diverse approach. However, the main goal of ACT is to increase psychological flexibility: to openly and freely choose to live a valued life by opening yourself up to compassionately embrace your full range of internal experience (including thoughts, feelings, memories and bodily sensations) while engaging in constructive behaviors that are rooted in what's important to you. This is done in the service of living a meaningful life with vitality and purpose while accepting the unavoidable pain and discomfort that is a normal part of our existence as conscious human beings.
ACT utilizes a variety of different strategies including: increasing acceptance of self, others, and your internal experience; mindfulness - making open, undefended/nonjudgemental contact with the present moment to facilitate engagement in your experience; living in a manner consistent with your freely chosen values; and, committing to action that supports these values and moves you forward toward living a more meaningful and fulfilling life. It helps you answer the questions, "what is most important to me? and "how can I make my life be about what is most important to me?" This may be explored in a variety of life domains including: relationships, social life, parenting, career/employment, education/personal growth, leisure activities, spirituality, health/physical well being, and community life.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.
Mike Blakey Therapist Anchorage Alaska - (907) 929-4009