I’ve been in private practice in Boulder since 1993, so I’ve worked with most issues that people have. I have particular expertise in things that cross the arbitrary barriers between physical, emotional and spiritual issues. This includes depression, weight issues, auto-immune disorders and body-mind illness in general, such as chronic pain, cancer and unexplained illnesses. I find that trauma and it’s effects on the body/mind/consciousness connection is typically behind these issues which causes disconnect with our essential Self. My work focuses on helping you reconnect with your underlying Being and get your true needs met.
Are you ready to be at peace with your body? Have you had enough of struggling with your body image, your weight, what you eat, and your self-esteem? Maybe by now you understand that this isn’t a simple issue of self-control or will power and counting calories. Food is a very emotional subject. We all have reasons why we eat the way we do and why we look the way we do. In the last few decades America has seen an explosion of weight issues, with two thirds of us now being overweight or obese. Simultaneously we’ve seen an explosion of other health issues, from depression to ADD to auto-immune disorders and diabetes. What is the common theme? It’s the Standard American Diet (SAD). We are not eating nutritious, sustainable food, but are hooked on cheap, convenient processed foods. Believe it or not, we are malnourished, even while overweight. Most of us are looking to food to meet lots of psychological needs and often unaware of how poorly our actual physical needs are getting met. However, just reading books about this, like Dr. Mark Hyman’s “The Ultramind Solution” or “The Ultrasimple Diet,” doesn’t change the fact that food is an enormously psychological issue. Weight issues have to be addressed simultaneously through an understanding of the sciences of nutrition, addiction and psychology.
In the years that I’ve been specializing in treating food issues, I’ve come to see that it is connected with co-dependency. You learn to disconnect from your inner, feeling world and your needs, and turn yourself into what others want or expect. We learn this in childhood, but it never really feels that good. So we substitute getting our wants met for getting our real needs met. We unconsciously use numbing with food or other things to cope with pain, frustration, disappointment and self-esteem issues. I will help you to know what you really need and want in life, to have healthy boundaries and to feel comfortable being in your body and staying connected with your own experience. The relationship with food doesn’t need to carry all the emotional suffering that it does for so many of us when we can work through what the real issues are.
My goal is for you to be at a healthy, comfortable weight, but more importantly for you to have a cleaner, freer relationship with yourself and your body. This doesn’t happen in a couple of sessions, but unlike dieting, the changes come from the core, and are therefore more permanent. I have created a unique form of therapy that combines some of the most cutting-edge techniques for healing and transforming both psychological and physical issues.
Recovering From Co-dependence
Adult child of alcoholics (ACOA) or co-dependency issues have at their core the childhood experience of having to disconnect from oneself and focus on others. Therapy focuses on how to be centered in your own experience, to be in touch with your own feelings, needs and healthy boundaries. Working through co-dependency/ACOA issues makes intimate relationships more healthy, less frustrating and more stable. Therapy creates more clarity about what is one’s own responsibility and what is not. It helps with anxiety, confusion, giving your power away and frustration. Co-dependency can also be the root of various other issues, including: food issues, self-esteem issues, other addictions and depression, along with intimacy issues or professional issues. Therapy includes recovering the missing experiences of self-awareness, self-expression or empowerment. It includes releasing trauma and the erroneous unconscious beliefs associated with abuse or neglect. This allows us to make truly conscious choices.
I have been helping people deal with physical illness since 1994. I’ve been fascinated by the mind/body connection for a long time, and this is how I developed a specialty in psychoneuroimmunology. There is plenty of research to validate the idea that the illnesses that modern medicine is least capable of addressing are the ones with a strong body-mind connection, typically the auto-immune disorders, ‘life-style’ illnesses, chronic pain, and illnesses associated with trauma. For many years, I have worked with people to help them form a healing relationship with their body and immune system, including recovery from surgery, HIV positive clients, and cancer patients.
I have been blessed with two incredible tools. One is the groundbreaking work by a Boulder neurologist, Robert Scaer. After running a pain clinic for thirty years, he wrote two amazing books on the body/mind connection. The books are “The Body Bares the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation and Disease” and “The Trauma Spectrum.” In these books, Dr. Scaer clearly explains the psychophysical foundation of autoimmune disorders and chronic pain. The other is Brainspotting, which allows us to work very directly with non-verbal memory and the auto-immune system, particularly the “freeze” response.
This ‘freeze’ response, is a natural survival mechanism, just as ‘fight or flight’ are also functions of the instinct for survival common to all mammals. Freeze is associated with helplessness, such as childhood trauma, car accidents, medical intrusions and work place or military ongoing stress. Because of our complex brain and social norms, we typically have not understood the potency or the frequency of the freeze response, nor have we had access to the natural discharge processes that animals use. Freeze involves the reflex to protect oneself, with all of the nervous system activation that that implies, combined with a survival based sort of paralysis or dissociation. This is common for children growing up in volatile or abusive homes because they can’t escape the threat. The nervous system gets overloaded with intense activation, which does not get discharged. Even for people who have ‘dealt’ with their childhood in talk therapy, the nervous system can still hold a tremendous amount of survival oriented energy locked deep inside. Over time this can lead any one of a long list of medical conditions.
Brainspotting is a form of EMDR and hypnotherapy, which allows access to the nervous system. What is so amazing about this technique is the depth of processing that naturally occurs through using eye focus and bilateral music. A relevant visual spot is located and all the associated material starts to process, all the way down to the level of the nervous system. Various physical sensations and emotions can start bubbling up naturally, feeling just like they originally. The natural healing mechanisms of breathing, emotional and physical release, and insight can then access and process long buried, or even forgotten trauma. I’ve done powerful clearing work with issues such as birth, adoption and circumcision, which could never be processed through cognitive work. This can lead to really amazing and exciting symptom resolution. Clients sometimes experience shifts in symptoms they’ve lived with for half their lives after the first or second session. That doesn’t mean that this is a ‘quick fix’. It usually takes some time to access and fully process the material locked in the body. But the bottom line is that the body/mind/consciousness really can heal quite organically when we can connect our natural resources to our buried trauma!
I wrote my Master’s thesis on a holistic model for the treatment of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse back in 1993. Since then trauma therapy has grown and developed extensively. My focus is on helping you learn tools and resources so you can stay grounded in your body and know that you can both get to the strong feelings inside and also gently move away from them as needed so you can stay safe while doing the healing work. Luckily it is not necessary to consciously remember every traumatic thing that happened to you growing up or since then. In fact, it can be rewounding to focus too much on memories. The key is clearing the patterns from the body and the nervous system, which can be done non-verbally, and releasing the unhealthy beliefs which go with trauma. The tools I use allow us to go to that depth without having to spend a lot of time going through painful memories.
“To say Julisa has changed my life is an understatement. She has helped me heal wounds which felt so deep I thought I might never recover. I have let go of codependent relationships and feel happier than I have my entire life…I finally have the skills to get through this life.”
“After 37 years of failing at dieting, and over 20 years of morbid obesity, Julisa helped turn my life around. I’ve tried getting help from various kinds of professionals over the years for both dieting and emotional/relationship challenges in my life. No one compares to Julisa. Her compassion, experience, and directness coupled with the specific techniques she uses are profoundly effective. She helps you process what is keeping you from moving forward, and simultaneously teaches you how to work through things on your own. It’s not a fast process, but once you turn the corner on what is holding you back, progress can be amazing. So far I’ve lost 60 pounds, and for the first time in my life I feel confident about losing the rest of my excess weight. And more importantly, I am not worried about it coming back. I am changed. Not just my relationships with food and my body, but with others. I am starting to live the life I want and not the life I felt I had to lead. I am truly grateful to Julisa and recommend her to anyone who needs to make changes in their life or needs support in dealing with life’s challenges.”
“I just wanted to say thank you for my session on Friday. I had no idea what to expect but drove home smiling the whole way. It feels like that was just what I needed before my surgery tomorrow. I also wanted to tell you how impressed I was with your work. I was honestly stunned by your ability to keep your emotions completely out and allow the entire space for your patient. I have been to many therapists, doctors and healers and am not sure I have ever come across someone so capable of stepping completely out of the way and just allowing the space for the patient. That really is a gift.”
– Chrissy, Boulder