Lisa is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Art Therapist. She received her training at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven Connecticut, graduating with a dual Masters degree in Clinical Art Therapy and Counseling.
Lisa specializes in the treatment of teens, adults and families from diverse backgrounds, lifestyles, and problems. Her practice utilizes a unique, creative and eclectic approach to dealing with challenges and exposures surrounding people and today's society. Having worked for a reputable mental health organization for 15 years, Lisa has vast knowledge of helpful clinical resources and programs offered throughout the state, including information related to therapeutic foster care and adoption. Working with foster families and people who struggle with separation, disruption and abandonment issues is a passion of Lisa’s. She is trained in evidence-based models designed to effectively treat mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, as well as, complex psychiatric issues. By examining one's attachment style and using a combination of psychoanalysis and unique psychotherapy approaches, Lisa helps people gain insight into unconscious behaviors, destructive patterns, motives, defenses, memories and underlying issues that could be hindering personal growth and development. Her methods and style of treatment is known to provide client’s with clarity and understanding in a shorter period of time then traditional therapy. Unfortunately, sometimes people get misdiagnosed and can wind up feeling more lost as a result. Lisa’s mapping techniques allow clients to see the full picture and this alone can often provide relief.
TRAUMA and ATTACHMENT:
As a specialist in complex and childhood trauma, Lisa uses methods based in the latest neuroscience research including Internal Family Systems (IFS), Clinical Art Therapy, Internal Family Systems (IFS) and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to name a few. Her passion in this area drives her to spend hundreds of hours studying and training throughout the year, allowing her to fine tune and identify patterns, diagnostics and a clear course of treatment. Relational, Complex and Abandonment trauma symptoms can be elusive and often gets missed. This chronic and highly toxic type of stress occurs as a result of ongoing adversity starting at an early age, which dysregulates a person’s nervous system, causing them to live in an activated threat response (fight, flight, freeze and fawn) through their adult life. Feelings of emptiness, procrastination, chronic digestive issues, self-sabotage, unsatisfied relationships are almost always related to this highly toxic kind of stress. Due to differences in experience, treatment requires a variety of modalities and is tailored to the symptoms and needs of the individual. Using alternative means like art therapy is especially important when treating stress, trauma and shame-based conditions because these methods give access to regions of the brain where memories are stored. Traditional talk therapy is always incorporated in treatment and provides clients with needed relief. However, when working with chronic stress and trauma, where symptoms are wired in the body, talk therapy alone will likely limit progress. Sensory-based methods can be incredibly effective in reducing stress, anxiety, panic and intense emotions that often comes with hidden trauma. Lisa has had excellent results in helping clients quickly stabilize and process their emotions using these techniques.
Psycho-education and understanding your "attachment style" is an essential component to trauma treatment. Attachment refers to how a person connects and relates to others, as well as, trusts and feels secure. The interesting thing is, many people can grow up in very happy, healthy homes and can still develop a sense of feeling "disconnected" or alone. Humans are born to connect, relate and need to feel a sense of belonging. When these components are absent, life can be difficult to navigate. A person can understand themselves and their relationships a lot better just by exploring their adult “attachment style". The good news is, we actually have the capacity to shift our wiring and we can learn to experience a healthier, more secure and satisfying life! There are 4 types of attachment (secure, anxious-preoccupied, fearful avoidant and dismissive avoidant). It is possible to present as one attachment style then another depending on who the interactions are with.
THE CHALLENGING PERSONALITY:
Helping people better understand and relate to loved ones who might present with Borderline Personality, Narcissistic Personality (vulnerable/covert or overt type) or sociopathy is another area of focus for Lisa. Lisa studied and has been helping people understand the link between narcissism, sociopathy, and early emotional trauma, throughout her career. Her goal is to help clients identify and work through psychological, mental and emotional abuse cycles such as brainwash, distinguish invisible chaos, avoid danger and survive destructive circumstances.
Some notable characteristics of the challenging personality may include controlling behavior, difficulty getting along with others, bossy and judgemental attitude, inflexible, unreasonable, talks in circles and half-truths, unrealistic views, manipulation, deception, charming and witty, lone wolf, lack of consistency and shifts in belief systems, insecure sense of self, actions and words do not match up, indirect communication, difficulty empathizing and avoiding apologies, just to name a few. In extreme cases, the person may dissociate and vacillate between kind and caring, “switching” towards sociopathic and dangerous if triggered by feelings of rejection or fear or shame. Another sad outcome for many is isolation from family and friends. This progression is often slow and not obvious. On the outside, reasons appear justified when really, this is one of many unconscious attempts to gain power and control. In the end, the empathic victim can wind up losing their life-long connections, resources and become trapped. The victim is almost never aware of this reality or how their decompensation is a direct result of these daily toxic interactions.
There are still professionals in the community that dispute the concept of “multiple personality". The interesting thing is, we all have multiplicity of the mind (part of me wants to have a sandwich while the other part reminds me to have a salad instead). Our personality is made up of many parts. For some, these parts can become fragmented and out of view. This is especially true for the "vulnerable" narcissistic type. Having little access to internal workings and self-reflection is part of what leads to problems, especially in romantic relationships. It can take up to 10 years before red flags are noticed and even then, the vulnerable narcissist is rarely identified due to their skilled, invisible, insidious nature. Characteristics of this type are very different from the traditional egotistical narcissist we all hear about. Close, long-term involvement with the vulnerable/covert narcissist can be catastrophic and should be taken seriously. In Lisa’s personal work, there appears to be a strong link between inter-generational family patterns, severe childhood trauma combined with abandonment to support this very misunderstood condition. Levels of dissociation vary from subtle to severe and could easily be missed. This is especially true when the social system is not fully evaluated, interviewed or explored which can lead to the wrong person being pinned as the toxic member and mistreated as such. In these extreme and complex cases, methods like Internal Family Systems (IFS) can be helpful for people who compartmentalize and struggle with dissociation. Understanding the relationship within these complex profiles and personally witnessing these dynamics for many years, is what led Lisa to getting certified as a Level 1-IFS practitioner.
****Just because a person exhibits any of the above characteristics and personality traits does not mean they have a personality disorder or other mental health diagnosis. It is very important to seek support from specialists in this area to avoid misdiagnosis and being placed in further danger. The therapist or professional must be knowledgeable about complex, abandonment trauma and attachment to fully understand these profiles. Due to the challenges in distinguishing the covert/vulnerable narcissistic type, it is important to be your own advocate. People involved with someone with these traits, often find themselves in unhealthy, draining and toxic relationships, which often leads to hidden mental, emotional and psychological trauma. If you are wondering if someone you know may have a personality or dissociative disorder, try understanding the person’s history and “attachment style” first. Also be aware of your own relationship patterns and history. Learn to execute healthy boundaries especially those who are strongly attuned, emotionally sensitive and empathic. A person can appear narcissistic when really they may be “dismissive avoidant” in their attachment style. Dismissive avoidant traits should be viewed as a spectrum. Just because someone is dismissive avoidant does not mean they are narcissistic, however, understanding this style may help clarify related questions.
Her personal struggles, strong cultural influences, understanding her own routes and surviving sociopathic/narcissistic relationships, raising her own children, combined with her professional background, has provided Lisa with a broad and realistic perspective into the pressures and complexities of life and relationships. It is her goal and mission to support her clients so that they can express themselves freely, gain an integrated sense of self, develop healthy relationships and overcome obstacles to make room for happiness and success.
Lisa is first generation in her family. Her parents were born and raised in Marsala, Sicily. She and her younger brother Giuseppe grew up speaking Italian and enjoyed large family gatherings with nonna and nonno, zie and cugini in the finished basement. She speaks two dialects (Sicilian and Italian) and tries to visit her relatives in Sicily every few years. Before starting her career as a therapist, Lisa was a hip-hop dance choreographer, stage/theater prop artist and nail technician. (So if you happen to break a nail during session, don’t worry Lisa has you covered). In 2020, Lisa became a Nonna and now takes every opportunity to enjoy this
profoundly magical blessing.