Kim Small, LPC
now at Connected Wellness Group, LLC
Virginia Beach Counselor, Norfolk Counselor
About the Therapeutic Process
My method of treatment combines various interpersonal, family systems, cognitive-behavioral, and experiential therapy ideas. I also utilize EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) to facilitate healing from past distressing events and for recovery from trauma related issues. I take a positive approach to people and problems, believing that people are incredibly resilient and have a tremendous ability to address their life situations. It is my role as a therapist to help you understand the dynamics of your situation and to help you use your particular strengths to address issues and concerns. Believing the therapeutic process is one that is interpersonal and collaborative in nature I tailor sessions to meet the individual needs of you and your family.
I am also a Christian Clinical Counselor, which means I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that by believing this, anyone may have eternal life in His name (John 5:24). While my beliefs impact and shape the work I do with clients, I realize that you may not share my beliefs. It is my hope to be of help to you regardless of your religious orientations or personal beliefs. I do believe that faith plays an integral part in the lives of my clients, no matter the specifics of what they believe. If your spiritual beliefs differ from mine and this is a concern for you, please discuss this with me at the beginning of therapy. I do work with clients from various spiritual and religious backgrounds.
Explanation of Theories
Interpersonal therapy is a branch of psychotherapy that focuses on the connections of the interactions between people as the key to resolving psychological problems and concerns. It is also the primary theory from which I rely. Using the therapeutic relationship as a catalyst for growth, I work with clients to uncover and change outdated patterns of communicating and relating to others. Through the interpersonal lens, I view the therapeutic process as collaborative in nature, seeking to develop a working alliance with each client from our initial meeting. This working alliance sets the stage for reconstructive therapy and encourages a client’s ability to think for oneself, pursue self-exploration, and take ownership of change. As an interpersonal therapist I rely on a non-directive approach. I believe that being too directive risks reenacting many of the same poor inter-relational patterns clients traditionally experience in their other relationships. In so doing, it creates an environment that dis-empowers clients to solve problems on their own. Additionally, a focus on the client’s emotions, exploration of the therapist/client relationship, an emphasis on clients' past and current interpersonal experiences, and exploration of client resistance to the therapeutic process are key components to interpersonal therapy.
Family Systems Theory
Family Systems Theory is an approach to conceptualizing psychological distress by recognizing the familial and developmental antecedents of many problems and concerns. It is an approach that focuses on an individual in his social context, recognizing the significance of familial interactions and the impact they have on both the individual members and the healthy functioning of the family system as a whole. Family therapy also appropriately acknowledges how human beings, particularly members of a family, affect each other.
Exploring familial and developmental factors shed light on
1.) How the client’s problems originally developed or came about;
2.) How they are being played out now and disrupting current relationships;
3.) How they are brought into the therapeutic relationship and shaping the way the therapist and client are
Key components of family systems theory include examining the structure of family relations (such as the alliances, coalitions, and loyalties that exist within a family), the family’s ability to respond to individual members’ needs for both relatedness and separateness, the unspoken roles of members and family rules, and the balance of control and affection present in the family.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a branch of psychology that explores the interconnectedness of one’s emotions, behaviors, thoughts, and bodily reactions. CBT helps me determine if the client’s problem is related to false beliefs. False beliefs include self-worth issues, such as a lack of appropriately valuing self, OCD, and perfectionistic thinking. These “tapes,” or false beliefs, often significantly, yet unknowingly, impact emotions and drive unwanted behaviors. Most of these false beliefs are essentially rooted in a failure to comprehend one’s value and identity in Christ. As I work with clients to uncover their false beliefs, we explore new ways of thinking that replace the lies of their repetitive “tapes” with Truth.
Experiential therapy is a therapeutic approach that involves actions, movements, and activities instead of the traditional form of “talk therapy.” While I primarily rely on talk therapy as I work with clients, I also utilize art, games, role-play, and music to encourage a client to explore, identify, and address hidden or subconscious issues. I find that some of these alternative forms of expression allow clients to access emotions and come to conclusions that they are otherwise unable to verbalize. These interventions lead to change, emotional growth, and personal empowerment as they encourage clients to engage in a more unguarded and genuine manner. I find experiential techniques particularly helpful in my work with children and young adolescents who tend to be more inhibited in a traditional therapeutic environment and have difficulty developmentally expressing thoughts and emotions.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing)
EMDR was a therapeutic approach originally designed to assist individuals seeking healing from traumatic events (known as "Big T" traumas). However, we've since discovered that EMDR can also facilitate healing of emotional distress from past distressing or disturbing events (known as "little t" traumas). These events include things such as grief and loss, relational distress and brokenness, illness, and other past hurts. It is rooted in the belief that our brains are incredibly resilient and when given the right tools can move towards health, just as the body works to heal a physical wound. With a physical wound, pain results when something blocks or interrupts healing or after repeated injury. We've found that a parallel process happens psychologically. Suffering results from exposure to a signficaint trauma and/or repeated distressing events. And, in response to the suffering we often develop coping mechanisms that at times produce more suffering and unwanted emotional, relational, and behavioral patterns. With EMDR, clinicians can assist clients in removing the block so that the brain's natural healing process resumes and suffering decreases. In doing so people are able to look back at the event more adaptively and without distress.
Please see Emdria.org for more information on EMDR, its process and procedure, and controlled studies regarding it's effectiveness.