Tree of Life Counseling services, LLC

Be like water…

“Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” Bruce Lee-“

Trauma Informed Care

Trauma-informed care shifts the focus from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” A trauma-informed approach to care acknowledges that health care organizations and care teams need to have a complete picture of a patient’s life situation — past and present — in order to provide effective health care services with a healing orientation. Adopting trauma-informed practices can potentially improve patient engagement, treatment adherence, and health outcomes, as well as provider and staff wellness. It can also help reduce avoidable care and excess costs for both the health care and social service sectors.

Trauma-informed care seeks to:

  • Realize the widespread impact of trauma and understand paths for recovery.
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in patients, families, and staff.
  • Integrate knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and
  • Actively avoid re-traumatization.

(Adapted from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s “Trauma-Informed Approach.”)

What Is the Vagus Nerve?

Vagus means wandering, and the vagus nerve, after it leaves the base of the brain, sends branches to the ears, the throat, the heart, the lungs, and the digestive tract, with stops along the way at the vocal cords and the diaphragm, before descending into the abdomen. The branches of the vagus nerve enable the organs to adjust instantly to the demands of a person’s internal and external environment.

The vagus nerve is why your heart races and stomach curdles when you sense a threat and why your breathing slows and your body relaxes when friends welcome you to their house. The vagus nerve is the key player in the autonomic nervous system controlling your internal organs.

The vagus nerve is a major pathway of the parasympathetic nervous system, which, along with the sympathetic nervous system, constitutes the autonomic nervous system. Normally, sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves act synergistically and together create the state of equilibrium known as homeostasis. Disruption of the balance of sympathetic and parasympathetic activity is characteristic of a number of physical disorders with a strong psychological component—irritable bowel syndrome, for example—and some therapies target stimulation of the vagus nerve as a way to restore physiologic, and psychologic, balance.

Why Is the Vagus Nerve Important?

Because information flows both to and from the brain via vagal pathways, the vagus nerve can be thought of as a major mind-body highway. The many branches of the vagus nerve are increasingly seen as pathways for promoting or restoring health and ameliorating the physiologic unease that gives rise to anxiety and other negative mental states.

States of visceral calm get relayed up to the brainstem, which then transmits the information to more highly evolved brain structures, allowing full access to the brain’s means of expression and enabling social interaction—which has the effect of perpetuating the state of neural calm. But in potential danger states, such as completely novel environments, those higher systems turn off and we become defensive and on high alert: The vagal circuitry narrows our focus and prepares us to fight or flee—the so-called stress response.

If the danger is so overwhelming that there’s no escape or there’s a feeling of being trapped, a third circuit of vagal operations engineers a shutdown. In this out-of-focus, numb state, social contact becomes aversive. Such bodily responses are not voluntary, and often people are not aware of what triggered them, although they are likely aware that their heart is pounding or their body is trembling.

Because the vagus nerve operates bidirectionally, states of homeostasis and calm, which are necessary for restoration and growth, can be induced from the bottom up or the top down. That is, the brain can deploy cognitive and other strategies to dissipate states of bodily unease (top down), or it can activate the vagus nerve at a number of points in its path to create psychological comfort and a sense of safety (bottom up).

Stimulating the Vagus Nerve

Increasingly, scientists are coming to understand the connections between physiologic and psychologic states of distress, with their accompanying sense of threat, on the one hand, and states of physiologic and psychologic calm, with their accompanying sense of safety, on the other. As a result, the vagus nerve has come into sharp focus as providing effective, noninvasive ways of restoring physiologic and psychologic composure. As the commander-in-chief of the parasympathetic nervous system, the vagus nerve countervails systemic unease and the “fight-or-flight” stress responses to induce a state of calm and restore homeostasis. Psychology  (

IADC® Therapy- Induced After Death Communication

Psychotherapists today are consistently helping grieving people experience a reconnection with someone who has passed away, resulting in healing deep sadness associated with grief. The method of inducing this experience, called “induced after-death communication” or IADC®, was discovered in 1995 by Dr. Allan L. Botkin, Psy.D.

Consistent, robust clinical observations by a growing number of IADC® trained therapists across a broad variety of clients indicate that IADC® heals the deep sadness that is associated with death of a friend or loved one, and the results appear to hold up very well over time. Most people believe their experiential reconnection is real, but they do not have to believe in the authenticity of the experience to benefit from its profound healing effects.

The method uses EMDR, but in a quite different way from standard EMDR. The research that supports EMDR does not necessarily support the way it is used in these treatments. (

I take some insurances and I offer a fee assessment scale.

(970) 825-6597

3225 Templeton Gap Road Unit 103

Colorado Springs, CO 80907

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8:00 am – 5:00 pm
8:00 am – 5:00 pm
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