Helping People Not Just Cope But Truly Heal

401 West Baseline Road, Suite 201 Tempe, AZ 85283 (map)

Evidence-Based Therapies


Imagine your brain is a filing cabinet and every adverse life experience adds a new "file" to its drawers. Individuals who have suffered significant trauma or numerous life stressors can start to notice their cabinet is overflowing! Files get lost, out of order, or become so full the cabinet struggles to close. The brain operates in this same way when painful memories start to affect our every day life. We may experience difficulty concentrating, irritability, reactivity, physical symptoms of stress, and more. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is an evidenced-based therapy that uses bilateral stimulation through sight, sound, or touch to sort through those memories (aka the messy cabinet files) to reorganize and put the ones causing distress neatly in the back of the cabinet where they can be accessed only when needed and do not continue to get in the way of the new incoming files. Basically, the brain is able to properly store the old, painful memories so that new life moments can be fully experienced. The goal is to properly reprocess and store the past so that you can start living your best present.

Art Therapy

People are not born with an understanding of words or an ability to speak, from the moment of birth everything that is absorbed into our minds are images. These images get filed into different areas of our brain, beyond what words can relay or language can express. Art therapy taps into these nonverbal areas of the brain, where traumatic experiences, losses, and negative perceptions are housed. These memories may remain locked up until accessed by other means, methods without verbal dialogues and language. The fluid properties of paint, the tactile stimulation of clay, the rigid functioning of colored pencils, these are a few art materials that allow our logical and verbal minds to temporarily shut off and we are able to tap into the part of our minds that experiences pictures and images, before words are formed. Art therapy allows us to move back to the heart of ourselves and helps us reshape and retell our stories in more beneficial ways.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is often used in conjunction with other therapy modalities but differs in that it is intended to be fairly brief, and rather than focusing on the specific trauma or event, it focuses on the emotions and thoughts the individual is experiencing at the moment. ACT is based on six guiding principles that work in conjunction to help the client process and manage painful or distressing thoughts and feelings. The first principal of ACT, cognitive defusion, focuses on teaching the client to learn to perceive thoughts, memories, and feelings for what they are…simply pieces of language and images that can neither harm or dictate the client’s life. The second principle, expansion and acceptance, builds on this by working with the client to make room for feelings generally regarded as uncomfortable rather than trying to suppress or push them away. Contact with the present moment is the third guiding principle of ACT and encourages the client to connect with the present moment by becoming familiar with what is referred to as the Observing Self. The Observing Self is the fourth principal and is a process of learning to simply observe and reflect on what is happening in the moment without assigning positive or negative attributes. Values clarification is the fifth principal and is simply the process of allowing the client to identify what is most important to them. Finally, committed action, which is the sixth guiding principle of ACT, assists the client in setting actionable goals that connect to the values they have identified and to ultimately arrive at a life or place of contentment they have learned to visualize throughout the process of therapy. ACT at its core is a process of learning to neutralize and normalize emotions and thoughts, identify values, and set goals that allow the client live fully in the present, acknowledge their past trauma for what it was, and move toward a life they have visualized without fear, guilt, or shame.

Sand Tray

“Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.” -C.G. Jung

Remember when you were a child? Do you recall the moments playing in the sand at the beach, playground, or backyard? You probably would not have used the description at the time, but there is something therapeutic about having your hands in the sand, physically connecting with the medium to create formations and engaging in imaginative play… many would call it a healing experience. Sand tray play therapy takes this healing experience further in an evidenced-based practice with a trained therapist. It is psychological work that involves “hands on” experience in combination with reflective therapy to process complex life experiences. In sand tray play therapy, the client creates physical, concrete manifestations of their ‘world’. Sand tray play therapy uses symbolism, in a contained place, to shine light on the client’s thoughts and feelings both conscious and unconscious; creating a safe space to allow them to process through their experiences.

Somatic Experiencing®

“Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness.” -Peter A. Levine

The Somatic Experiencing® (SE®) method is a body-oriented therapeutic approach developed by Dr. Peter Levine to treat trauma and other stress disorders. The SE® model suggests that the specific event isn’t what caused the trauma but rather it is the body's overwhelmed response to the real or perceived threat that is causing an unbalanced nervous system. SE® therapy uses a specific framework to evaluate where a person is "stuck" in the fight, flight, or freeze responses then provides therapeutic tools to resolve these physiological states. The SE® model supports clients in releasing the opposing survival energy stuck in the body that is the cause of symptoms. The goal of SE® is to access the body memory of a traumatic incident instead of the traditional verbal narrative, so telling your story is not a requirement. SE® therapy does not involve changing thoughts or beliefs about a memory but looking at the physical sensations underneath those feelings.

Play Therapy

When children experience adverse or traumatizing experiences, family or peer conflict, or deficits in social/emotional functioning they do not always have the language to verbally process their response or articulate their needs. Play Therapy is an evidenced-based, structured approach for working with children that builds on their typical communicative and learning processes to be used in a therapeutic and healing manner. It is used to help children safely express their challenging thoughts and feelings when they do not have the verbal language to speak them. A skilled play therapist can use therapeutic play to support children to expand social and emotional skills, develop adaptive age-appropriate behaviors, process through traumatizing experiences, explore and resolve inner conflicts, and increase problem-solving skills.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

In today’s culture, there is this misconception that individuals are somehow not in control of their emotions; that impulsive or big, over the top reactions are societal norm. This should not be (and is not) the case. Individuals, including teens with still developing brains absolutely have the ability to manage their emotions and reactions to frustrating situations. DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy and it incorporates four distinct sections to teach you or your teen how to effectively manage emotions; mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. At Taproot Therapy, we work with teens and young adults to help them build these skills in a safe, non-judgmental place so that they can be better equipped to manage and communicate their emotions with parents, teachers, peers, employers, etc.

Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)

Accelerated Resolution Therapy, often referred to as ART, is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy with roots in existing evidence-based therapies of Exposure Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, EMDR, Imagery Re-Scripting, Guided Imagery, and Brief Psychodynamic Therapy. It utilizes back and forth eye movements to help clients address common problems such as depression, anxiety, phobias, and PTSD and has been shown to achieve benefits with children and adults typically within 1-5 sessions. The process is very straightforward, using relaxing eye movements and a technique called Voluntary Memory/Image Replacement to change the way in which the negative images are stored in the brain. The client is always in control of the entire ART session, with the therapist guiding the process. Importantly, clients do not have to talk about their traumas or difficult life experiences with the therapist to achieve recovery. ART works directly to reprogram the way in which distressing memories and images are stored in the brain so that they no longer trigger strong physical and emotional reactions. ART accomplishes this through the use of rapid eye movements similar to eye movements that occur during dreaming. Although some traumatic experiences such as sexual trauma, combat experiences, or loss of a loved one can be very painful to think about or visualize, the therapy rapidly moves clients beyond the place where they are stuck in these experiences toward growth and positive changes.

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