Ben Woodruff, LCSW, MDiv
Ben Woodruff is a licensed clinical social worker who is passionate about helping people realize their greatest selves. He received his Masters degree in Social Work at Arizona State University and currently is teaching classes in the Social Work department part time. He also holds a Masters of Divinity degree with an emphasis in Family and Counseling from Phoenix Seminary and formerly worked as a Pastor. He and his wife Dierdre raise their 3 young children in Scottsdale, Arizona.
- Stress Reduction and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
Things he can help you with:
- Depression and grief
- Relationship issues
- Adolescent difficulties
Services I Provide
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a cost-effective, non-invasive, evidence-based method of psychotherapy which was originally developed by Francine Shapiro, PhD in the late 1980’s for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). There have been 24 randomized control studies of EMDR therapy which attest to its value and demonstrate its usefulness across all ages, genders, and cultures. Tens of thousands of clinicians have been trained all over the world in EMDR therapy and studies have supported the use of EMDR with many special populations with an assortment of conditions such as Acute Stress Disorder due to Recent Incident trauma or disasters, personality disorders, eating disorders, anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, performance anxiety, complicated grief, dissociative disorders, addictions, chronic pain, sexual and/or physical abuse, ADHD, and body dysmorphic disorders, just to name a few.
EMDR has been accepted as an effective form of treatment by several major health organizations including most recently the WHO (World Health Organization). It is listed as an evidenced–based practice by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration) and NREPP (National Registry of Evidenced Based Practices and Programs) and the VA/DOD Clinical Practice Guidelines (2004, 2010) recognize EMDR as being a “A” category (the highest level designation) for treatment of trauma.
EMDR is an eight-phase treatment which comprehensively identifies and addresses experiences that have overwhelmed the brain’s natural resilience or coping capacity, and have thereby generated traumatic symptoms and/or harmful coping strategies.
Through EMDR therapy, patients are able to reprocess traumatic information until it is no longer psychologically disruptive. EMDR is a physiologically–based therapy that appears to be similar to what occurs naturally in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and seems to have a direct effect on the way our brain processes and stores information.
The Adaptive Information Processing Model is the guiding principle of the EMDR approach and it postulates that health and wellbeing is supported by positive and successful experiences that increasingly prepare a person to handle new challenges and that the brain is equipped to manage and process adversity. Sometimes it just needs a little help. EMDR Therapy utilizes a 3 pronged approach which includes not only a focus on past (contributory) memories, but also focused reprocessing of present situation that continue to be triggering, as well as the development of an adaptive, positive template for the future.
“EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.” (Francine Shapiro, EMDR .com)
For more information, go to www.emdr.com www.EMDRIA.org www.aztrn.org (Early EMDR Intervention and Disaster response). www.emdrhap.org (International Humanitarian organization) Shapiro’s describes EMDR therapy in a 1 hour webinar/video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsQbzfW9txc
Stress Reduction and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Stress is part of being alive and some of its stimulating effects can be good, but too much of it can have a negative effect on our health. Stress Management and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy will help you learn more effective ways of coping with stress by:
- helping you recognize and evaluate any factors that may be putting you under any unnecessary stress,
- provide you with the stress management skills necessary for you to alter or change the feeling, thoughts, or behaviors that are aggravating or causing your current health problems, and
- will show you, through mindfulness based practices, that you can control physical stress by learning to relax and flow through it.
The various techniques that can be employed in a stress management therapy session include relaxation, biofeedback, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and mindfulness–based practices such as guided imagery, deep breathing, muscle stretching, and meditation. Instead of being stuck in flight, flight, or freeze, you learn how to flow.
“Mindfulness” describes a mental state of nonjudgmental attention to and awareness of the present moment -- along with calm acknowledgment of feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations as they arise. Mindfulness can also describe a type of meditation practice which cultivates this awareness, a quality all human beings possess.
According to Mindful.org, “mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
Mindfulness meditation comes from early Buddhist traditions over 2500 years old, developed to foster
- clear thinking
- open-heartedness, and
- the alleviation of suffering
Despite its Buddhist origins, mindfulness meditation requires no special religious or cultural belief system. In fact, Jon-Kabat-Zinn PhD is internationally known for bringing these practices to the West – creating a research-based program called “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction” that has benefited people from all walks of life. This program has been a helpful ancillary form of treatment for many patients with conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, anxiety, psoriasis, and other chronic conditions caused or exacerbated by modifiable lifestyle factors.
As one aim of mindfulness is to take greater responsibility for one’s life choices, it may both strengthen one’s internal resources for optimizing health, and evoke greater engagement with one’s health care too.
Ample research documents effectiveness of mindfulness practices in avoiding relapse in depression, addictions, and also in many forms of anxiety. Studies of its applications in trauma survivors are underway as well. Some forms of psychotherapy which use these practices include Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention. It is not a panacea, though. Psychiatrists and therapists keep aware of potential pitfalls with certain types of people, conditions, and timing. For instance, actively psychotic patients may worsen with long periods of silence in an extended mindfulness retreat. Once symptoms remit though, the person may be well able to participate and benefit from such programs.
Mindfulness can be taught as part of formal meditation practice, and also as integrated into everyday life situations. It isn’t about changing what you think or feel – but about becoming gradually more aware of these things in a moment-to-moment way. Through mindfulness practice, you can develop a wiser and more compassionate relationship with your own mind and body. This pays dividends not only in how you feel personally, but also in the quality of your relationships with others.
All Optimal You professionals apply some form of mindfulness principles or practice in their work.
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