I’m Jessica and I’m a passionate about helping people move through their defenses and make big changes in their lives. I am a licensed therapist who specializes in treating survivors of trauma and expats adjusting to their new homes. I have personal experience with trauma and as a fellow expat (I moved to Israel in 2016) I know what it’s like to leave the comforts of your home to brave the unknown of a new country. I wanted to take a moment to tell you a little more about me and my own journey.
I grew up in the bay area, living in both Albany and Berkeley, California. I grew up with a single mother who worked her ass off to provide everything for me and my siblings. She made sacrifices to make sure my needs were met and I think this is where I learned my nurturing skills from.
I have always been fascinated by human behavior, why people do what the do? How does our family system and how we are brought up impact us as adults? When I was 11 years old my best friend introduced me to the radio show Loveline on Live 105 (a rock station I never listened to since I was all about the slow jams of KBLX and the hip hop of the 90’s on KMEL). Any way Dr. Drew and Adam Corolla would answer questions about love and sex from teens and adults alike. Much of the time Dr. Drew would inquire about someones past and there would be this startling link between past abuses and difficulties with relationships and sex as adults. I wondered, even at this young age, why is this so? And more to the point how do people get better from these experiences?
So I began to read and study psychology. I learned many theories and approaches to helping people with past trauma heal over the course of my undergraduate and graduate studies as well as during my internships. It was also during my studies that we adopted my two younger siblings, who experienced their own trauma during their first years of life. My mother and I essentially became co-parents as we worked together to raise two little kids with their own unique gifts and challenges. She would draw from her experience as a mother and I would often bring in my knowledge from my psychology studies. Together we created a dynamic team of support, love, humor and most of all patience.
In 2016 I made the choice to take my own risk and start a new journey. I made aliya (immigrated to Israel) with my dog. I had no family and only one good friend and two acquaintances. These were the only people I knew yet I had one family open their home to me for 3 months as I got settled and adjusted. I worked at a nursery school and here I met other friends, both anglos and native Israeli’s alike, who took the time to help me with all the many things I needed help with (including Hebrew since I am still a beginner). As I enter my second year living in Israel I can identify with others who have been brave enough to leave home for something new and I can help others who are struggling with this adjustment having gone through it myself.
In my private practice I draw upon my academic knowledge and different experiences, both from the group homes I worked at (where I took care of abused and neglected children) to the raising of my siblings with their developmental trauma when helping my clients achieve their goals. I come from both an attachment perspective (which focuses on the importance of relationships and having someone have your back) and neurobiology (the way the brain develops in a sequential form, like building blocks-it’s skill based). It’s the combination of the nature vs nurture argument. It’s not one or the other but a combination of the two. They are interconnected and it’s truly impossible, in my belief, to separate them apart because you need them both in order to thrive and achieve your full potential. Without support and love how can you share your gifts with the world? Without being able to stay calm in the face of challenges and persevere how can teach others?
So when clients come and work with me thats what I bring to the table. I connect with them relationally, becoming their ally. I learn about who they are and what makes them laugh, smile, afraid, and angry. I challenge them to be the best they can be, and not let their fear based defenses hold them back. In talking about the past I use it to help them see how their past has shaped who they are but it doesn’t define them. The skills they learned to keep them physically and emotionally safe were important during that time but now that they are out of that environment they can take action and learn better tools to help them achieve their goals.