Dafna Chen – Psychotherapist
I met with Dafna Chen, a licensed mental health psychotherapist and substance use counselor, for an interview. I ended up experiencing a mini-session, and left with new insights about myself and some useful advice. Dafna has a practical and direct approach to therapy. More than nodding sympathetically, she pushes and motivates for action and change.
“We all have challenges and difficulties and we deal with them daily to the best of our ability. Often talking and sharing with another person can help and offer a different perspective. Being heard and understood provides strength in the ability to cope. Patients keep saying to me: “I never thought of this like that, until I said it out loud”, “It helped to get this of my chest”, “Discussing this made me see it in a different light.”
There are many therapy theories and tools and Dafna tailors a specific treatment for each client. Sometimes the focus is on the here and now and strategies to deal with present challenges. Other times past experiences are discussed and how they influenced the current state of mind.
“The focus is on how to return to be who you want to be, take ownership and control over your life, and find the way that is right for you.”
As she registered to college Dafna pondered between Computer Science and Behavioral Studies. Although the heart won and she chose Behavioral Studies, she found herself working with software in a startup company and ended up at Microsoft, where she worked for a decade. Despite the intellectual challenges in her careers, Dafna felt something is missing. “After my daughter was born I realized I wanted to work with people and help them with their journey for a better life”. Today Dafna is a licensed psychotherapist and owns a private clinic.
Dafna specialized in trauma therapy. Trauma can be caused by a single, isolated event like a car accident, or it can be an accumulation of past or present events. The result of these events can be a specific fear that might disrupt daily activities such as fear of driving and leaving the house. It can also result in deeper life challenges such as trust issues and negative thoughts. “In many cases, what looks like attention deficit disorder and anxiety and depression, may actually be post-traumatic symptoms.”
One of Dafna’s missions is helping those who struggle with addiction and substance abuse. Addiction is a compulsive dependence on a behavior or substance that persists even when there are negative consequences. Drugs and alcohol are the first that come to mind when thinking about addictions, however you can be addicted to your work, to food and even to your smart phone.
“I believe people are doing as best they can at any given moment. Addiction is not a matter of choice and is the combined result of genetics and environment. People use substances to feel better about themselves, to ease social engagement or to avoid pain. It serves this purpose, but in the long run, the price is high.”
Dafna also works with the family members of people who struggle with addiction. The entire family can benefit tremendously from therapy and support. “We work on establishing boundaries, with compassion and love, and taking care of ourselves, it is essential.”
Among her tricks of the trade, Dafna uses Hypnosis as a therapeutic tool. You may be thinking of a magician hypnotizing innocent volunteers, but Hypnosis is simply a way to achieve deep relaxation, like meditation and guided imagery. The hypnotized person is fully awake, aware of his actions and can get out of the hypnotic state whenever he wants. The deep relaxation allows for subconscious memories to float and come to the surface and provide for deep emotional work and investigation.
Dafna also treats depression, proclaimed as the 21-century top disease. Depression may result from many factors such as social isolation in the modern society, stress, constant over-stimulation and more. According to recent researches, 1 out 10 people suffer from depression or anxiety. Dafna’s vast knowledge and experience with addictions provides a unique viewpoint for these issues.
“Suddenly you see the puzzle pieces fall into place and people come up with breakthrough in
sights about themselves and their lives. Every day I witness people’s courage and creative abilities of self-healing, it is a true inspiration”.
Dafna Chen, LMHC, CDP www.DafnaChen.com
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