Mood Disorders are conditions where there is a serious change in mood. These conditions include: Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Cyclothymia or Bipolar II (a mild form of Bipolar Disorder), and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). People who suffer with depression are withdrawn, unreasonably self-critical, irritable, impulsive, or hypersensitive to loss or upset. What is often most difficult about depressive conditions is that the symptoms can interfere with people getting the treatment they need.
An anxiety disorder develops when a person starts to become frightened and alarmed by his or her fear response. We are all born with a wide range of emotional experiences, which includes the feeling of fear. Fear is an automatic and fundamentally helpful response, that aids us if our body needs to respond to an immediate and actual threat.
With anxiety symptoms, the perception of threat becomes an exaggerated and ongoing state. These threat perceptions feel very real and convincing. Response patterns such as avoidance, safety seeking, freezing up, or even fleeing are quite understandable; but these patterns then increase a perception of dangerousness in the world around us and also result in the fear response being more easily triggered again.
Anxiety disorders sometimes can run in families. It can also be a response to stress, trauma, or life change-While anxiety can feel very scary and can contribute to functional issues, it is actually quite treatable. In fact, a lot of people don’t pursue treatment and have life limiting effects, when there is actually a lot that can be done to help an anxiety sufferer.
Dr. Hoekstra is passionate about treating women across their lifespan. Women face unique challenges in their identity development, negotiation of life-transitions and often in their own family of origin. As women negotiate issues around dating relationships, marriage or partnership, and parenthood, we have lost the community supports that used to scaffold and hold women. For Dr. Hoekstra, psychotherapy is necessarily geared toward providing a supportive relationship in which to heal and grow AND on accessing resources in the community we all need to live and thrive. Life transitions such as separation and divorce, "empty nest" phase, and transitioning back to work can be enormously helped by the presence of an attuned therapist.
Dr. Hoekstra has a special place in her heart for first time mothers and feels strongly that all perinatal mothers and families are under-served by our current healthcare system. Too many new mothers suffer tremendously and often go untreated for serious mood disorders as they transition to parenthood. This transition is often so profound on every level-biological, emotional, spiritual-and impacts women more than our current society and the healthcare system recognize.
Dr. Hoekstra has undergone specialized training in the assessment and treatment of Post-Partum and Perinatal Mood Disorders. Dr. Hoekstra is a professional provider and Member of Post Partum Support International. She is also a professional member of Post Partum Support Virginia. She has also taken the Advance Clinical Training at the Post-Partum Stress Center, LLC in Philadephlia with Karen Kleiman, MSW.
Pregnancy and childbirth are periods of dramatic physiological and emotional transition which leave women vulnerable to symptoms of anxiety and depression. Women and couples need support and holding during this time. One in seven new mothers and one in ten new dads suffer from postpartum depression.
Parents need to know: "You are not alone, you are not to blame, and with help, you will be well."--Post Partum Support International
Children don't come with a manual and the “self-help” literature and online resources are often overwhelming and contradictory. Dr. Hoekstra believes that our culture focuses on discipline, rewards and punishment and appropriate behavior. This focus misses the central principle that the security of the relationship between child and caretaker is most influential in the development, growth, and eventually healthy functioning as adults. In order to thrive and flourish in our lives, we humans need to know we are loved and lovable--and to this end, Dr. Hoekstra works with parents to enhance their relationships with their children. Dr. Hoekstra is a Registered Circle of Security ® Parenting (™) Facilitator. This program is designed to provide early intervention to parents to enhance their child's security in the world.
Most people experience some trauma in their life time. Trauma can be defined as an overwhelming experience where a person perceives their life to be in danger. This can include accidents, war, natural disasters like hurricanes or floods, or experiences of assault.
Neuroscience has made great strides in the last few years in understanding how the human brain processes traumatic experience differently than non-traumatic experience. When perceived life threat is involved, certain structures in the brain responsible for encoding the experience, in memory, organizing memory, and planning and reflecting on experience “turn off.” Memory is largely encoded as a sensory experience or flashes of visual memory. These highly charged memories can be “triggered” — by experiences in the present that are somehow similar to the original trauma. Individuals with a history of trauma can be triggered into “re-experiencing the trauma” in a way where it feels as though it is happening how. For this reason, it is ESSENTIAL that individuals with a history of trauma work with therapists specifically trained in trauma treatment. Very often, talking about trauma makes one feel worse and can be “re-traumatizing.”
Therapy for trauma involves working with the resources for calming and soothing a person so that the client can feel more present. Some of these resources are already available to the person and some are taught. Treatment needs to proceed planfully, with stabilization in life occurring before a person work on healing from the trauma.
The experience of trauma survivors needs to be understood as the body and brain’s response to overwhelming experience —especially because shame and self-blame are so often felt by survivors. This shame and self-criticism are compounded by our society’s propensity to deny, hide, and turn away from the reality that these experiences occur far too often. Trauma survivors need to know—you are not alone.
Dr. Hoekstra supports the inclusion of spiritual exploration in psychotherapy (for clients who are interested). She does not impose a particular tradition or school of thought, but seeks to help interested clients explore their own questions and concerns regarding spirituality. Spiritual exploration is only included in psychotherapy at the specific request of the client.