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An Introduction

My name is Dr. Karen Lenard. I am a psychologist in the Flathead Valley in Montana, and I am licensed in both Montana and New Jersey. 

I want to help you get a better feel for who I am as a person and what sorts of issues I treat in my practice. I feel that goodness of fit is of utmost importance when looking for a therapist, and it is my hope that this blog will help you determine this for yourself. 

I treat individuals and couples, and I do different sorts of assessments. Before going any further, I want to address the new situation in which we find ourselves, that of self-isolation due to the novel Coronavirus, which causes CoVid-19. While it is important to self-isolate, it is also important to stay connected. From the perspective of therapy, much of it will occur online through HIPAA-compliant video format for the time being. According to Montana State Law (Mont. Admin. R. 24.189.301(4), online therapy must be live, so it cannot be via email or chat, and it must include both audio and video. So, that leaves HIPAA-compliant video conferencing. Whoever you go to, whether it is me or somebody else, they should be 100% transparent about HIPAA compliance of all communication platforms. If something is HIPAA-compliant, then the therapist or psychologist should have a Behavior Associates Agreement (BAA) for that technology. I’ve been hearing a lot about lifting of HIPAA laws, and I honestly don’t know much about that because I will not use methods that are not HIPAA-compliant. Your privacy is of utmost importance to me. Once the current situation is over, we can meet in my office or online. 

Let’s start with individual therapy.

So, what sorts of issues do I treat? Well, let me ask you some questions before I answer that:

·  Do you feel sad much of the time? Do you know why, or is it a bit of a mystery to you?

·  Does your history entail repeated insults from family members or other loved ones? Does it feel as though it has worn at your soul?

·  Is there a singular or multiple isolated trauma that you can’t seem to get past? 

·  Do you feel irritable and don’t really know why?

These are the sorts of issues I help folks work through and find peace with. It is by no means an exhaustive list. How do I help you with these issues? Well, in several ways.

One approach I use is EMDR, which is a well-researched method of healing these sorts of issues. I’ll do another blog entry to explain a bit about EMDR. For now, just know that it helps you process through memories and feelings in a similar manner to rapid eye movement when you dream.

One of the things I love about EMDR is that it takes the punch out of our memories. We keep what we need and let the rest go.

Something else that I love about it is that is targets all three time frames: past, present and future. Once we process through the past, then we move to the present by doing a body scan. If there is a residual “grip” to the memory, we work through that. Then, we move to the future. How do YOU want to feel or respond in the future? I can help you get there.

I just love this approach for treating many different issues, and I often integrate other treatment modalities as well.

Another therapy that I am well trained in is Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, or CBT. During CBT, we will look at your current triggers, and figure out under what conditions you get “triggered.” Once we know that, we can have some control over it. We can begin the process of recognizing our underlying negative thoughts and feelings and begin to identify disconfirming evidence for our negative assumptions, that is, evidence that proves that our negative thoughts are not true. Then we identify a more positive thought that can replace the negative thought and look for confirming evidence that supports those new thoughts. There is more to it, but that’s the bare bones of it. In this way, we work on developing new neural pathways that will become automatic over time.

Cognitive Process Therapy is a third approach that I am trained in. It is an approach developed by the Veteran’s Association to treat psychological trauma, such as a car crash, sexual trauma, or something else. 

Those are my three main approaches to individual therapy. If we both decide that we are a good therapeutic fit, then we can schedule an intake. During your journey with me, I will be asking for your input. I want you to have as much agency as possible over your therapeutic process. With that in mind, if I see something that needs to be addressed that you  seem to be avoiding, I will gently but firmly lead you to meet it in a metered fashion. 

I always keep a tabs on where you are. To heal, we have to arouse your nervous system; otherwise no healing will occur. By the same token, if you become too aroused, you will be retraumatized. We don’t want that to happen, so my promise to you is that I will do my best to keep you in that perfect (or “optimal”) window of tolerance so that healing can take place. And, I get it… that feeling of anxiety reminds us, however consciously or unconsciously, that danger lurks, so we aim to push it away. That is entirely natural. It is my job to help you to feel safe enough to dare to go “there,” wherever “there” is. I will hold your proverbial hand the entire way and will be your safety net. That is my promise to you. It is through this process that healing can occur. 

I offer free 30-minute consults, either in person or online, to help you in this endeavor. If either of us feels that we are not a good fit for any reason, I want to help you find someone who fits your style and your need better. It is a top priority for me to help you find someone who really fits your need and your style, even if it isn’t me. 

I am here because I love what I do, and I genuinely care about your outcome. If you’re not with a therapist who really gels for you or who does not have the skills to optimally get you to where you want to be, then we need to find you someone else who can do that for you.

Couples’ Therapy – what is it? What do I do?

I use an approach called Emotion-Focused Therapy to work with couples. In this approach, the negative cycle that brought you in is identified, and that becomes our target. We want to target the interactional style, not each other. Then, we work on understanding that target on deeper levels and dig into the meat of what each partner’s responses means to us and how it affects our behavior, which then effects their behavior because of the meaning it has to them. Does that make sense? It is slow work that harkens back to our very earliest attachment histories. Those histories get played out in our relationships, and it is through this lens that I seek to deepen the empathy between you and your partner so that old traumas can heal and so that you and your partner can grow together, rather than apart.

My hope is that this blog post has been helpful in clarifying what I do and how I do it and why. 

If you would like to discuss anything further with me to further explore if we might be a good fit, please give me a call at (406)318-7775 or contact me via this website. Just click   "Contact Me" at the top of this page and fill out the form; I'll get your message in my HIPAA-compliant email. My phone is not HIPAA-compliant, so just be aware of that. We can talk in more depth during your free 30-minute consult either in person or on a HIPAA-compliant video conference. I hope to hear from you soon.