Specialties and Certifications
Post-graduate certification in Sex Therapy from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco
Clinical treatment of Autism certification.
Advanced training (levels 1 and 2) in Internal Family Systems (IFS) and Intimacy from the Inside Out (IFIO)
CELTA (Cambridge University certificate for teaching English Language to adults)
Certificate in teaching AP English for high schoolers from UCLA
Mime: Language of the Heart
a BA in English from UC Berkeley
MA in Counseling Psychology
MA in Humanities
More about Alexandra
My work on a PhD in Somatic Psychology brings the world of neuroscience to the practical everyday experience of the Neurodiverse person. My research reveals embodied therapeutic practices and exercises that provide a path for both psychic pain healing and transformation of reactive behaviors into helpful responses that make a way to be in the world that is authentic and adaptive.
Academics & Theater
During my childhood and adolescent years, academics was my thing: I was a National Merit Scholar before going to UC Berkeley and graduating from the English department with honors. I went on to teach high school literature, college English writing, and AP English Language and Composition classes for 10 years.
I also loved theater in high school and had the roles of Eliza Doolittle (Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw) and Adelaide (Guys and Dolls) my junior and senior years at South Pasadena High School, in greater Los Angeles.
Later in life I trained in body theatrical expression (Mime) at the Warsaw School of Modern Mime in Poland. For seven years I trained over 100 young people from the Americas, Europe and the Middle East to perform in troupes of 6-12 mimes on the streets of Izmir and Istanbul, Turkey. Our mostly original skits were about love, community, self-awareness and appreciating the beauty of life even while experiencing it differently than others do.
I was living an undiagnosed journey on the spectrum as I sought to find a place for myself through academia and art.
Marriage & Family
I married my Neurodiverse diagnosed husband just after graduating from college. In our signature "go big or go home" way we had 5 children in 6 years and then took them all to Turkey, where we lived for 16 years. While my husband had an international trading company, we also sought to spread God's love and love for humanity among a people who already manifested great reverence and warm community among themselves.
Our street theater was successfully impactful mainly because the people of Turkey already engaged in serious love for God and care for their neighbors. Although we returned to the US when our youngest went to college, the Turks have the biggest place in my heart, because that is where I learned to live in community with love, grace and kindness. I have "big sisters" there, strangers, acquaintances, neighbors and friends, who taught me how to live present, with generosity, to everyone around me.
After returning to the States in 2013, we put our youngest in college, saw our second child married, moved near our first married child and our first grandbaby, and provided launching pads for our 3rd and 4th children as they graduated from college and went to work in business and teaching. My 4th offspring is now a special needs teacher in the Orange County public schools. We have 8 beautiful, talented and smart grandchildren, some diagnosed and undiagnosed neurodiverse.
My neurodiverse diagnosis has helped explain so much of my life to me. The pain I felt when I seemed to dance to a different drum beat than everyone around me, the reactive behaviors I expressed when others stepped on my sensitive feelings, the stress and pain in my body as I tried to accommodate a physically unaccommodating world, and the uneven opportunities my brilliance gave me, were all revealed as perfectly normal experiences of a Neurodiverse person.
Intimacy From the Inside Out couples therapy training gave me an understanding of how the different parts of me interact with the different parts of my husband. The clashes between our sensitivities and defensive postures are understood better now, and these different parts of us are able to relax as we hold space for each other, instead of trying to fix one another.
I started my second MA in my early 50s and will complete my PhD in my early 60s (well, that's the plan). Psychology and especially the connectedness between our psyches, our brains and our bodies has become my new special interest. With several years under my belt of working with individuals and couples, many of whom were Neurodiverse with diagnosed ASD, ADHD, OCD and DID, as well as comorbid personality disorders, I am excited to start working with a focus on the Neurodiverse community.
Main Areas of Focus
As Dick Schwartz says, "There are no bad parts", only parts of us that have developed highly skilled but sometimes abrasive defenses against a world that doesn't support neurodiversity. I help my Individual, Couples and Adolescent Clients find healing and, through awareness and self-compassion, to transform the behaviors of these good intentioned parts to voices of advocacy and support for their needs that they may find courage to step into their specific interests in work and love.
I love working with couples. I have had a 72 hour training with Intimacy from the Inside Out. IFIO stresses the need to understand the unique ways each person in the relationship is showing up to meet the different ways their partner shows up. As we search for those parts of us that seem to be creating conflict, we learn to listen to the wounds that they protect, as well as their good-intentioned purposes and are able to update these parts to more collaborative ways of relating. This works in all relationships, including parent-child, boss-employee, neighbor-neighbor and within ourselves. Sometimes we are our worst critic and that critic needs help on how to give constructive criticism!
While therapy is not a place to fix your partner, there are times when an individual may need help from a therapist to understand their part in a relationship with a neurodiverse partner. Since my partner and I are both neurodiverse, I feel a lot of empathy for the partner who is seeking to work out these differences, as well as an inside track on what the neurodiverse partner may be dealing with.
Here are 4 goals of therapy for a client who is trying to do better with a partner who is neurodivergent from themself:
Awareness of the parts of the client that come up in reaction to their partner and awareness of the parts of their partner that most trigger them.
Healing for wounds that have come up in the relationship - this often must also take into account the root of the vulnerabilities of the client, which often stem back to wounding in childhood.
Ability to differentiate between the partner’s neurodiverse traits and the parts of them that are defensive behaviors due to past trauma.
Updating of the client’s own defensive parts so that they can adopt more mature and adaptive responses to their partner’s behavior.
A key element of growth in the relationship in this kind of therapy is the realization that therapy is never about changing your partner, but rather changing your response to your partner. It is true, however, that the more clear boundaries there are and the more vulnerability there is on your part, as well as an authentic self showing up, your partner will sometimes see your model and begin to mirror it.
I also serve individual clients who are neurodiverse. The IFS model has proven effective for helping clients notice the neurodiverse parts of themselves, which includes sensitivities and brain processing differences, for the purpose of supporting them better and encouraging the strengths to emerge.
There also is healing to be found in therapy for the wounds that most neurodiverse people have gotten from the environment that doesn’t accept or understand them, as well as self-inflicted wounds of shame or criticism.
This two pronged approach, of working with neurodiverse traits and with wounded parts, is what facilitates growth for the client.
When addressing the question of masking it is important to ask: What is the purpose of this mask? Is it adaptive to the current environment of the client? Does it have limitations that need to be acknowledged, boundaries that need to be set up so that it doesn’t get overwhelmed? Or is it a mask that is an outdated defensive move that needs healing of the original wound as well as updating to the current life of the client and a transformation to a more adaptive behavior?
Assessments for Adults
Through a series of 4 - 6 sessions, I explore the lived experiences of my clients and facilitate their teasing out the difference between their Neurodiverse traits and their trauma induced reactive behaviors.
Then we get into the weeds of which specific experiences need what kind of support development (for neurodivergent traits) and which specific emotions and impulses need trauma informed therapy for healing. I have experienced and seen how healing from wounds experienced since childhood can bring resilience and emotion regulation skills to the surface as the old triggers no longer keep the client in fight, flight or freeze.
I look forward to providing this life changing therapy for you and your loved ones.
Other Areas of Focus
IFS Relationship Therapy and Coaching
Psychoeducation workshop on the Neurobiology of Neurodiversity
Research Interviews for PhD in Somatic Psychology
Assessment of Neurodiversity and Personality Disorder Comorbidities with an IFS "Parts" language lens
Adult and Adolescent Individuals
Internal Family Systems Therapy
Psychodynamic Relational Psychotherapy