“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."
Maya Angelou


In my approach, therapy begins with an understanding of each person’s basic goodness and wholeness. Our time together involves uncovering any blocks to your sense of self-worth, emotional balance, and resiliency.

You will learn a mindfulness approach to living your life that brings a sense of stability and perspective. Mindfulness and self-compassion training can be combined with your psychotherapy to help change your relationship with your self from one of struggle and harsh inner criticism to one of self-acceptance and peace. These practices decrease anxiety and depression.

Through curiosity, exploration, and skills, a transformative experience is possible. People benefit greatly from the mixture of approaches I use to help them relate to their inner life and outer circumstances in new ways. I have received advanced training in the following areas so that I can guide and support people in achieving their desired goals.

Contemplative Psychology

The premise of Contemplative Psychotherapy is that we already have what we need to connect with our inherent wisdom and compassion. Therefore, a contemplative therapist is concerned primarily with helping clients reconnect with and develop confidence in their own inherent wholeness. The contemplative approach is an optimistic one, because it points to our capacity for clarity, compassion, mindfulness, and awareness.

Internal family system (IFS)

This model acknowledges the different parts of an individual and the need to “make peace” with these various aspects of our self. Often these parts are created from the deep pain in our life and can lead to maladaptive behaviors, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. When we bring our core self to the head of the table and acknowledge and listen to all of our parts we create harmony in our life.


Is the branch of psychology that deals with the relationship between the nervous system and mental functions. Over the recent decades we have been learning that the brain is plastic (can be changed) at any age. By understanding how the brain affects our behaviors and how our behaviors affect our brain, there are clear ways to cultivate change and shift the ways we relate to life and to ourselves.

Polyvagal Theory used in Therapy

Using a polyvagal perspective in clinical work allows clients to understand and skillfully work with their nervous system. By having a clear map and methods, clients learn to track and work with their autonomic nervous system. The polyvagal theory offers a valuable framework for understanding and responding to intense emotional and physiological symptoms of PTSD. I have found it to be an essential piece in helping clients re-pattern their nervous systems, build capacities for regulation, and create autonomic pathways of safety and connection (learning to feel safe inside).

Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT)

Is an evidence based method of changing our relationship with food.  This practice begins with mindfulness meditation which trains the basic capacity to be aware, to direct attention to the present moment, and to suspend automatic reactions and negative self-judgment. Learning this skill allows us to bring awareness and space into everyday activities like eating, and to observe how triggers (such as feeling depressed) set off urges to eat even when we are not hungry. I use MB-EAT in conjunction with education and exploration. Depending on the source of an disordered eating or an eating disorder I may also use polyvagal therapy and somatic therapy to address issues around food, weight and making peace with your body.

Somatic Trauma Therapy

I was trained through the Trauma Resource Institute (TRI) in a model used for interventions that provide resiliency and self-regulation skills based on neuroscience. Unlike talk therapy, somatic therapy bypasses the speech centers to access trauma held in the body. Depending on the source of a disordered eating or an eating disorder I may also use polyvagal therapy and somatic therapy to address issues around food, weight, and making peace with your body.

Buddhist Psychology

Theory believes our psychological state depends not so much on our particular circumstances, but more on how we relate to what life brings our way. It acknowledges that pain – whether physical or emotional – is an unavoidable part of life and with that pain comes some suffering. However, as human beings we tend to add additional layers of psychological suffering by how we engage with our experiences. In particular, it’s a strong desire to control things – to hang on to what we want and push away what’s unpleasant – that gets us into trouble.

Offering Psychotherapy in Libertyville, IL and Virtually. Email nanci@awakenedpsychotherapy.com for a consultation.