Kerry McKee, LCSW
Therapy Customized for You
My approach to therapy is tailored to each client, blending complementary modalities to find the most effective approach for you. I infuse all of my work with a somatically-oriented approach, helping you access the wisdom of your body and emotions. Some of our work together may be focused on the resolution of traumas and developing new, more positive beliefs about yourself & the world. Some of our work together may be skills-based - developing new coping strategies, communications skills, nervous system regulation techniques, anxiety management practices, and other helpful tools. Or we may explore deeper personal growth work or how to support spiritual practices you're already engaged in or seeking to root more deeply with. Both virtually or outdoors in nature, we may do ecotherapy-focused work, guiding you to find a source of deep belonging, coherency, peace, and mentorship from the Earth.
Read more below about the different modalities I use here.
Safety, Collaboration, and Commitment
Therapy begins with the creation of a container of safety and trust. From this place, we can invite the unheard, misunderstood, exiled, or wounded parts of your being into awareness, welcoming them with love and respect.
I have a strong commitment to the collaborative process of therapy, and a belief that mutual feedback and checking in on your goals regularly can help therapy progress more effectively.
With all clients, I give invitations to practices, exercises, or experiments to explore in-between sessions, such as journaling, trying out new ways of being in the world, tracking thought patterns, meditation, or invitations to explorations with nature. I have a strong belief that therapy works best when it is a full commitment to a process, not just an hour a week in a therapy session.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a powerful and effective form of psychotherapy enabling people to heal from disturbing life experiences. Many emotional and mental health problems, as well as somatic symptoms, result from unprocessed traumatic memories that are stored in the brain. EMDR assists the brain in accessing and reprocessing these memories and sets in motion a natural healing process. It is an evidence-based therapy that has helped millions of people recover from trauma and has been extensively studied as a effective treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In addition to the treatment of PTSD, EMDR is also used to treat the psychological effects of smaller traumas manifesting as depression, anxiety, phobias, low self-esteem, creativity blocks, and relational challenges. Most therapists, including myself, now use tactile sensors or tapping, which have been shown to be as effective as eye movements for the bilateral stimulation during processing. Healing often occurs much more rapidly with EMDR than in traditional talk therapy. As a result of clearing traumatic memories, many people experience a new sense of confidence, empowerment, freedom, and resilience. I am trained in both the traditional EMDRIA model and in Dr. Laurel Parnell's Attachment-Focused EMDR model.
Ecotherapy & Eco-Depth Psychology
Ecotherapy's central goals, in its most commonly practiced applications, are to help people find peacefulness or calm in connecting more with the natural world. Numerous evidence-based studies reveal that time in nature can lead to lower levels of anxiety and depression, improved sleep, reduced pain, less mental fatigue and stress, decreased post-traumatic stress, and improved immune functioning.
But there are much richer possibilities. Eco-Depth Psychology is about connecting with the living, animate, intelligent world of all of nature, and reclaiming our deep belonging as part of this living system. This approach also addresses the separation we may feel within the ecosystem of our own self as parts of our psyche who may appear to be in opposition to each other (for example, the wounded child and the inner critic). This work consciously develops the the wholeness of our psyches, and welcomes in all the parts of ourself we may have other-ed or exiled, creating rich internal healing. This wholeness can then radiate out to effect our relationships with other humans as well as our connection with all of life.
Other aspects of eco-depth work include dreamwork, deep imagery, archetypal exploration, using ceremony & ritual, journal work, and redefining your personal myth. I may give practices for you to explore, for example, engaging in conversation with aspects of nature that mirror your challenges or edges for growth; “apprenticing” to a quality in the natural world that you want to cultivate in yourself; or feeling yourself held during intense emotions by the strength of the earth.
Current neurological research is proving that somatic (body-oriented) therapies are more effective than traditional psychodynamic or talk therapy at shifting states of trauma, depression, anxiety, and other challenges. The body is a window to unconscious psychological material, and Somatic Psychotherapy combines body awareness with experiential techniques to promote psychological growth and transformation. I blend a Hakomi-oriented approach with EMDR and other body-oriented modalities. Hakomi Somatic Psychotherapy is rooted in 5 principles: mindfulness, organicity (that each person is whole and has an innate capacity to heal), non-violence (viewing psychological defenses as understandable protection and management strategies), mind-body integration, and unity. Reclaiming the voice of our body can be a profoundly empowering and radical act of living in full connection with our being and the world.
IFS-Oriented Parts Work (Internal Family Systems)
Parts work validates that we all have multiple facets of ourselves, and that this is normal and natural. However, particular aspects of ourselves may become contracted or burdened due to traumas or interpersonal challenges in our past. This may create a landscape within us of vulnerable parts who feel trapped or shut down, and protective strategies guarding them and creating a sense of limitation or constriction. IFS-Oriented Parts Work helps us find our centered, mature self, befriend our protective parts, and open access to deeper healing and integration. Many clients find this type of therapeutic work empowering and liberating, as well as imaginative & creative!
Mindfulness is a relaxed, alert state of consciousness in which one becomes more aware of physical, mental, and emotional experience, in the present moment, without judgment. Practicing mindfulness can reduce distraction and quiet the mind, improve emotion regulation, and lead to a growing sense of compassion and love for ourselves. There is a extensive body of research about the positive mental, emotional, and physical benefits of mindfulness practice. Unconscious thoughts and beliefs may also be more easily brought into conscious awareness through mindfulness, which then gives us a increased ability to choose how we relate to our thoughts rather than feeling driven by them. I utilize this in therapy by guiding you through mindfulness exercises, and encouraging mindfulness practice to increase self-awareness, repattern habitual ways of thinking, and decrease stress and anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is grounded in the belief that how a person perceives events determines how they will act - it is not the events themselves that determine the person's actions or feelings. The goal in CBT therapy is to change thought patterns in order to change responses to difficult situations. It is evidence-based, one of the most highly researched form of therapy that exists, and is very practical and solution-focused. I use CBT interwoven with other techniques to challenge negative thinking and build new skills.
I may also use a specific form of CBT called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), called this because it recognizes and works with both change and acceptance, two opposites that can work together to bring healing. DBT provides clients with new skills to manage painful emotions and decrease conflict in relationships. Four key areas of skills are emphasized – emotion regulation, mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance.
Two other techniques related to CBT that I may also weave into therapy are Nonviolent Communication
(NVC) and Motivational Interviewing. NVC is an approach to communicating designed to help people connect more compassionately with themselves and others. It helps people rethink and restructure the way in which they express themselves and listen to others, and is based in helping us identify what our needs are and communicate them clearly. This form of communication can promote greater self-awareness and personal growth, and foster deeper interpersonal relationships. Motivational Interviewing helps people resolve ambivalent feelings to find the internal motivation they need to make behavior change. It is a practical, empathetic, and short-term process that takes into consideration how complex it can be to make life changes.
I believe the spiritual path isn't about transcending our emotions or humanness. It's through embracing our emotional experience and welcoming all of who we are that we find spiritual truth. Transpersonal psychology seeks to unite the spiritual, psychological, and social aspects of human experience, drawing from contemporary Western psychology as well as from many spiritual traditions. My orientation to Transpersonal Psychotherapy is informed by meditation, non-dual inquiry, non-ordinary states of consciousness, and Holotropic Breathwork, as well as my studies of Tantric Philosophy, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christian mysticism, and animistic traditions. A transpersonal approach may be particularly helpful for integrating psychedelic or spiritual experiences that you've had which may have remained mysterious, overwhelming, or simply unexplored as a rich source of growth and transformation. Transpersonal practices in therapy may be meditation, guided visualization, dreamwork, art, journaling, mindfulness practices, and other techniques to explore your spiritual journey and create deep meaning in your life.