Dr. Karen is dedicated to helping individuals, couples, and families understand how early childhood experiences may have contributed to unhealthy attitudes and behaviors which can impede healthy intimacy and attachment with others.
In terms of a treatment approach to any sort of psychological or relationship difficulty, it is my belief that using a WELLNESS model (what’s RIGHT with a person) versus a Pathological model (what’s WRONG with is person) provides encouragement, and promotes a sense of empowerment which can lead to the development of a healthier self esteem, an internal locus of control, and ultimately foster constructive behavior rather than self destruction.
With this premise in mind, it is important to examine all factors and experiences of a person's life, for it is within these experiences that “character” is built. Research has also taught us that trauma plays a significant role in personality development and the greater and more frequent the trauma, the greater the impact it has on a person;s ability to cope. However, a single traumatic event in a person's life can be just as devastating. The following is a case in point.
My father was an adolescent when the German’s invaded his hometown in Norway. The emotional scars that resulted were never addressed. Neither society, nor he, would permit using unresolved trauma as an excuse to escape the lingering internal turmoil (like most people of his generation), so he turned to various means of escape, mainly working and fishing, to “numb” the emotional aftermath and pain.
In my generation, we did not question our parents nor did I think there was anything “wrong” with my childhood. Comparatively speaking, we had a “good” life and because I was introduced to various cultures (including Norwegian) that most American-born children do not get to experience, my exposure to different ways of thinking and believing was expanded. That said, I always felt “different” from other kids, and that “difference” extended into adulthood.
However, during graduate school, I began to learn about the aftermath of trauma and its pervasive effects on Self and the family. I was naturally drawn to the study of trauma-related disorders and addictions which usually focused on abstinence-only and 12-Step approaches to treatment. But the abysmal statistics about recidivism (and watching patient's love/hate relationship with drugs, alcohol, and other compulsive behaviors) always left me with questions as to whether there were other ways of conceptualizing addiction treatment. This set in motion the quest to find more adaptive and unique ways to look at emotional problems and addiction, especially process addictions, and led me to formulate a modified approach (using a variety of interventions) which are geared to addressing needs of the mind, body, spirit and emotions.
I have a deep understanding of trauma-related disorders including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the addictive process, and have continued a lifelong pursuit of finding the newest evidenced-based treatments for coping with maladaptive behaviors, emotional problems, and other destructive activities.
I have over 20 years of clinical experience helping individuals, couples, and families find new ways of looking at old problems, and aiding them in developing adaptive attitudes and behaviors which promote emotional, spiritual, social, financial, and sexual health and well-being.