My name is Samantha Gerson and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is licensed in CA and NY State. I earned my Master’s in Clinical Social Work at University of Southern California, and my Bachelor’s degree from New York University. Beyond my clinical practice, I run a nonprofit for survivors of institutional abuse and conversion therapy, where we provide free resources.
Our Work Together:
As a therapist, my goal is to provide a space for you to be authentically who you are, without judgment. I provide support during the hard times, ask tough questions when necessary, and work with you to find practical solutions to your challenges. I aim to forge a deep and trusting relationship, so that you feel comfortable discussing your most protected thoughts and feelings. There are no quick fixes, but developing life skills, improving self-respect, and connecting deeply with loved ones can be key in building wholeness in mind, body and spirit.
Trauma and PTSD:
Sometimes the effects of trauma leave us feeling scared or hopeless. We may experience delayed feelings of anger or frustration, and at times even fear. Many of us may experience avoidant behaviors, night terrors, intrusive thoughts, feel unsafe with ourselves, or even feel as though we are disassociating or having an out of body experience due to the trauma we experienced. Often we avoid reminders of the trauma, but sometimes it appears in our lives (places, smells, memories…etc) and it is outside of our control. At times, trauma can cause impulsive behaviors, struggles with boundaries, or issues with relationships (social, romantic, family or work). My practice focuses on individuals who have a history of trauma and /or experience CPTSD. I have extensive experience working with survivors of sexual assault, abuse, domestic violence/intimate partner violence, human trafficking, the commercial sexual exploitation of children, conversion therapy, institutional abuse, gential mutilation, and neglect and abandonment.
This process looks different for everyone. By using a trauma informed lens, it is my goal to empower you, help you find your resiliency and process emotions you regularly experience. I utilize a humanistic approach, combined with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Mindfulness to provide coping skills, process emotions, and create interventions that will work with you in mind. These modalities are inclusive of skills building through imagery exercises, breathing exercises, regulating emotions and increasing distress tolerance. Other ways in which I work with clients ays I include rapport building, utilizing narrative therapy, and engaging in various role play activities.
Personality Disorders, Depression, Anxiety, & All that comes with it:
Do you ever act without thinking and wonder why you do the things you do? Do you feel a lack of control with your impulses or an inability to create appropriate boundaries? Perhaps you feel that without intense responses, you won’t be hear.
This feelings are normal and often out of our control. Those of us with trauma may have increased symptoms such as these. Working with me can help you challenge this behaviors out of your control and provide you with the skills to cope with them in your daily life.
Depression and anxiety can also leave us feeling overwhelmed, lethargic, and hopeless. We may experience low energy, loss of interest in things we once enjoyed, lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating, or feelings of intense sadness. We may feel alone and isolated, worry excessively, experience racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating and/or completing tasks, irritability, and have difficulty sleeping. We can tackle this utilizing CBT or engaging in mindfulness activities.
These types of symptoms and behaviors can often cause impairments or deficits within our families, workplaces, goals, and interpersonal relationships. In addition to my general focus on trauma, I specialize in working with those who experience personality disorders, depression, and anxiety; which actually commonly stem from life transitions, social interactions, daily stressors, relationship struggles and work life balance (all trauma related). I hope to alleviate these symptoms and improve your quality of life by targeting these issues and getting to the root of the problem.
Evidenced- Based Practices:
I utilize a variety of evidenced based practices that best supports you individually; these practices that include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness practice, Dialectal Behavior Therapy and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT is an effective way to help with identifying negative thought patterns and irrational beliefs. By identifying these negative patterns and core beliefs, we can reframe these thoughts into more positive ones, therefore changing our feelings and behaviors.
Mindfulness practice: Mindfulness is a skill that helps us stay in the present, without interpretation or judgment. It helps to relax the body and mind, decreasing stress and anxiety. Mindfulness may include imagery, guided meditation, and deep breathing exercises.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is a modality that helps to alleviate traumatic or blocked memories. It uses bilateral stimulation (BLS-eye movements or tapping) to stimulate both the left and right hemispheres of the brain, for the purpose of helping the brain heal and connect to new information.
TFCBT: Trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy or counselling that aims at addressing the needs of children and adolescents with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other difficulties related to traumatic life events. It is generally 12 sessions long, dependent on the client’s needs. It is considered a short-term treatment program.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy: DBT is an evidence-based psychotherapy that began with efforts to treat borderline personality disorder. There is evidence that DBT can be useful in treating mood disorders, suicidal ideation, and for change in behavioral patterns such as self-harm, and substance abuse. Some individuals who have a history of trauma can experience intense emotions leading to unhealthy behaviors, which can be processed through DBT. DBT involves working on distress tolerance skill building and emotional regulation.