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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Progressive Psychology: Local Psychotherapists and Life Coaches Use New Interactive Models

Jan 31, 2014 12:41PM ● By Linda Sechrist

Jill Wheeler

Psychology, which emerged as a distinct discipline approximately 50 years ago, has evolved far faster into its many forms than the perceptions that surround it. Due to outdated misconceptions, the public image of therapy is still about resting on a leather couch while hashing out a Pandora’s Box of childhood stories. By contrast, the majority of individuals that seek counseling today do so for specific, treatable issues—being stuck in an unfulfilling job or relationship, overcoming obstacles to goals, finding the courage to overcome an adversity or taking a risk or dealing with anxiety and the fear of change. The Journal of Counseling Psychology reports that 42 percent of patients average just three to 10 visits, all while sitting in a chair.

One reason things have changed may be due to a more interactive client/therapist approach, according to a recent study by the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland. Local licensed psychotherapists and life coaches find that an interactive approach, along with the use of take-home problem-solving tools, is very successful.

An Interactive Approach

Jill Wheeler, founder of WellFit Institute, blends psychotherapy with yoga psychology, expressive arts therapy and movement. The registered yoga teacher, who led outdoor adventures for 10 years, teaches integrative mindful techniques and leads full-day retreats with paddle boarding and walking meditations, as well as biking adventures in the Everglades. She also blogs regularly, has an active Twitter feed and Facebook page and uses inspiring and educational TED talks to spark deeper conversations with clients. “I’m careful about what I blog and post,” says Wheeler, who instructs her clients on good nutrition and recommends that they spend time outdoors actively moving their bodies.

“In traditional psychotherapy, therapists don’t interact with clients outside an office setting. However, my blend of interaction, which meets high-functioning clients where they are in their lives, forms a deeper therapeutic bond. Ten years ago, therapists wouldn’t have remotely considered these tools,” advises Wheeler.

Past-Life Regression Therapy
Kathleen D’Orsi
Kathleen D’Orsi

A tool that Kathleen D’Orsi uses in her therapy practice is past-life regression, which she studied with Dr. Brian Weiss. Author of Many Lives, Many Masters, and a psychiatrist, Weiss is a leader in the field of past-life therapy. “I do a comprehensive assessment and work with the client for several sessions to alleviate their symptoms before I determine if past-life regression therapy is an appropriate model for them. It is very safe, and in my experience, clients who have tried other things generally respond by remembering something that helps them in this lifetime,” says D’Orsi who describes her practice as eclectic. “I’ve also studied Eckhart Tolle and Dr. Wayne Dyer. I incorporate their thinking and philosophies into my approach.”

Marie Wright integrates traditional psychotherapy with Jungian Active Imagination and/or Mindfulness Meditation, along with the Othmer Method of EEG Neurofeedback, a very powerful adjunct to psychotherapy. Wright points out that she uses whatever method is most beneficial to the client. For example, if a client comes to therapy with grieving or loss issues, she works towards helping them to accept the reality of the loss; to work through the pain of grief; and to adjust to an environment in which the deceased is missing. This method also involves using Jungian Active Imagination where the client experiences a private communication with their departed loved one as a way to heal unresolved grief.

Marie Wright
Marie Wright
Wright also uses regression therapy, a therapeutic approach designed to look at past lives either metaphorically or as an actual event for the roots of problems and issues in the present life. For clients with childhood issues, she uses Inner Child Therapy, a body centered non-traumatizing approach that can dissolve frozen feelings held in the body/mind as blocks of energy and access childhood wounds for healing, which is a priority for anyone on a journey of personal growth. “I use the Inner Advisor technique, another form of Jungian Active Imagination, to work with a wise figure within that can give a client information and advice about their feelings, motivations and behavior. Totem Pole Imagery is also used to guide a client in encountering an animal in each chakra or energy center. This work is deeply healing and transformative and can have remarkable effects in psychotherapy and personal growth,” remarks Wright.

An Integrative Approach

A solution-oriented therapist, Kimberly Rodgers is collaborating on a research project with Florida Gulf Coast University’s Department of Social Work.

Kimberly Rodgers
Kimberly Rodgers
Together, they are tracking client experiences with yoga, Transformational Breath, Quantum De-Stress meditation, massage, aromatherapy, sound healing and energy healing or any combination of services. Their study seeks to accumulate data to measure the benefits of an integrative approach to talk therapy that Rodgers has been using for two years.

When Rodgers opened Monarch Therapy in 2008, she referred her clients to other practitioners when necessary. Today, she largely relies upon practitioners that work with clients in her facility and at the House of Gaia Community Center, in Naples. She also refers to other community partners as appropriate. “No matter what the issues are—general life stressors, grief and loss, adjustment to divorce, a move or other challenges—generally everyone can benefit from an integrative approach that includes any of the services we offer. The private or group Transformational Breath sessions offered by Carrie Sopko are particularly helpful because they allow people to release emotions that they were unconsciously holding back,” notes Rodgers.

Transformational Breath

Carrie Sopko
Carrie Sopko
Carrie Sopko, a Transformational Breath practitioner, explains that when an individual has difficulty articulating their thoughts or feelings in talk therapy, breathing can add a new dimension to the process. “It’s an opportunity to create a shift simply because it doesn’t require talking and takes people out of their head and into their body,” says Sopko, who describes Transformational Breath as a specific breathing pattern that can access the subconscious mind and release suppressed feelings, trapped energy and old patterning. “We don’t need the old programming that inhibits our personal growth and holds us back from achieving our goals and leading the life we were meant to live,” says Sopko, who notes that few individuals realize that the breath brings the life force and vibrancy to the body. “The less we think when we work with it, the better,” she explains.

John Patton, owner of the Healing Arts Center, is licensed as an acupuncture physician and mental health counselor. His toolbox also includes

John Patton
John Patton
his own personal line of supplement formulas to help patients achieve optimal health and to help mild and moderate forms of depression and anxiety. Patton notes that he has seen a recent trend in individuals that want direction and support for their search for behavioral modification in the form of life coaching, which he provides.

“Individuals who want life coaching generally overthink and overanalyze, which leads to an accumulation of tension, which has an emotional context in the body. Whether it’s yoga, running, bicycling, walking or swimming, exercise requires enough physical exertion to act as a stress reducer. It also burns up stored energy, which helps individuals get in touch with their issues,” says Patton. “Acupuncture is helpful to balance excess energy,” he adds.

Life Coaching

As certified professional life coaches, Lora Ulrich and Stephanie Davis, often work with clients that are seeing a psychotherapist.

Lora Ulrich
Lora Ulrich
Ulrich, founder of The New You Lifestyle, who has been in the wellness business for 19 years and is a certified nutrition and wellness consultant, gets referrals from psychotherapists and physicians to help their patients with accountability coaching and to help create plans for people. “A doctor often directs you to lose weight, eat healthier and reduce stress, but doesn’t give you an action plan to achieve your goals. I work with the client to create a plan for moving them forward, and then I use nutritional counseling, motivation and action steps, as well as inspiration and accountability, to help them become the person they would like to be. I refer out to a therapist when clients have serious issues they need to deal with,” says Ulrich.

Stephanie Davis, founder of Stephanie Davis & Associates Coaching & Consulting, is also an inspirational speaker and author of Refusing to Lose, a true story of moving from desperation to strength and learning how to never surrender to life’s challenging times. She specializes in stress

Stephanie Davis
Stephanie Davis
management, goal achievement and overcoming obstacles. “My goal is to help my clients feel that they are living the best life they can. One of the most effective tools that I use is guided journaling,” says Davis, who encourages her clients to journal reflectively on a theme, a purpose or a meaningful question. “This type of writing is a mindful meditation exercise that gives an individual the opportunity to be present with what is currently happening in their life. I believe that my clients have their own answers, and frequently, they discover them by journaling. It also gives them something to refer back to and appreciate their progress,” she says.

According to Jonathan Alpert, a New York psychotherapist and the author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days, people want therapy that helps them focus on goals and outcomes, and they want to graduate from it. Using today’s more progressive model of psychotherapy, it appears that it may be possible to graduate as an honor student.


Healing Arts Center, John E. Patton, AP, LMHC. 971 Michigan Ave., Naples. 239-262-6828.

Kathleen B. D’Orsi. 908-672-5069.

Lora Ulrich, The New You Lifestyle. 239-898-4078.

Marie S. Wright. The French Quarter, 501 Goodlette Rd. N, Ste. D100, Naples. 239-529-7919.

Monarch Therapy and Transformational Breath, 4500 Executive Dr., Ste. 100, Naples. 239-325-9210.

Stephanie Davis Associates, 683 S. Collier, Ste. B, Marco Island. 239-394-1848.

WellFit Institute, 2335 Tamiami Trail N., Ste. 206,Naples. 239-595-3199.

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