Individual Psychotherapy

How Trauma Impacts Our Life

Early relationships shape the way the mind and brain develop from our young years into our adult lives. Our connections with caregivers induce neural circuit firings that persist throughout our lives, shaping how we think, feel, remember, and behave. When we are lucky enough to have secure attachment experiences in which we feel seen, safe, soothed, and secure—the “four S’s of attachment” that serve as the foundation for a healthy mind—these relational experiences stimulate the neuronal activation and growth of the integrative fibers of the brain. However, individuals who have experienced any type of trauma, especially what we refer to as complex or “big T” traumas, this leads to dysregulation for the individual and also for how they relate to others emotionally (disrupts the emotional connection with other people; to stay connected and available emotionally). 

EMDR is a powerful tool for catalyzing integration in an individual across several domains, including memory, narrative, state, and vertical and bilateral integration” (Lauren Parnell). I use, Laurel Parnell’s attachment-based modifications of the EMDR approach, where the structural foundations of this integrative framework are adapted to further catalyze integration for individuals who have experienced non-secure attachment and developmental trauma.

Substance Abuse / Addictions

Ruzanna has worked with various clients with some sort of an addiction, including Alcohol, Heroin,Crystal Meth, Cocaine, Marijuana, and Cigarettes. Some of the ways these clients would come into Ruzanna’s radar was when she was working at St. John’s Health Center, the Child and Family Development Center, where the department of children and family services had gotten involved with the family due to drug exposure to their young children. Ruzanna would see these families and would work with the parents who were using or had used substances while they would care for their children and educate them about the long term effects of substance use and how detrimental this can be for their offspring. Ruzanna is a firm believer that most people who are either addicted to or abuse substances

have deep rooted traumas and substances are the only way they have learned to cope with their daily struggles. She is trained in Seeking Safety to work specifically with clients who require a more specialized approach to dealing with trauma and substance abuse and teaches grounding techniques for clients to be able to generalize to their daily life.

Pregnancy and Postpartum

Ruzanna’s work also includes supporting at risk pregnant women with educating and preparing for the birth of their baby and working on prevention of Postpartum Anxiety and/or Depression. She uses an evidenced based curriculum developed by UCFS Prevention Project (Munoz et al. 2007) titled The Mothers and Babies Course and can use this approach either within a group setting or individually. Ruzanna is well equipped to screen for Postpartum Depression by using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.


Ruzanna treats clients who exhibit symptoms of Depression and makes appropriate referrals if and when a client needs to see a psychiatrist to be prescribed with medication. Her treatment modalities vary from client to client, since Depression presents itself differently with each individual. During her work with clients, Ruzanna engages clients in conversations about the benefits of changing the way they think and helping them start making the link between thoughts, feelings and actions.

Anxiety: PTSD, Phobias, OCD, General Anxiety

Anxiety includes anything from phobias, to OCD, to PTSD, and just Generalized Anxiety. She encounters many children and adults who exhibit symptoms of Anxiety. Ruzanna makes many connections with how the mind and body work together and teaches clients ways to raise their self-awareness of their bodily sensations while experiencing mental distress. She does relaxation and deep breathing exercises during the session and educates about the benefits of using their breath, as well as exercise as a way to relax and reduce their symptoms of anxiety.