My Approach to Helping
I am a Cognitive-Behavior (CBT) therapist and Dialectical Behavior therapist (DBT) with experience in treatment of anxiety/panic disorders, depression and personality disorders including Borderline Personality. I am also a certified EMDR therapist. I have found that very often an experience from earlier in life that caused significant emotional distress contributes to the present problem. EMDR is a very efficient and effective tool to promote lasting change that helps leave the past in the past where it belongs.
I have a special interest in the role of Attachment in these disorders and use my understanding of Attachment Theory combined with the approaches listed above to help my clients reach their goals.
Currently I am using intensive approaches to therapy, helping my clients reach their goals in a shorter period of time. I schedule 90 min to 3-hr sessions for those seeking trauma relief as well as for couples seeking immediate stabilization in their relationship.
More Info About My Practice
Educational and Professional Background
Melissa Mockensturm Gardner received a bachelor of arts in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, graduating in 1990. She worked as a biologist for nearly two decades prior to deciding to apply her reasoning mind to the realm of the emotional mind, incorporating a wise, more balanced approach to her work.
Before working in mental health, Mel was a research scientist in biochemistry and molecular biology for the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale for five years, as well as various other institutions across the United States. This analytical focus, coupled with her interest in neuroanatomy and brain chemistry, gives her unique insight into mood disorders, phobias, stress, trauma, and anxiety disorders. Mel enjoys helping alleviate the suffering of people who struggle in these arenas.
Mel graduated from Argosy University with a master of arts in professional counseling. Her studies focused on grief therapy and fertility challenges. She completed a year-long internship at the Christian Family Care Agency, working with families and gaining insight into women's issues. Mel's internship was also her first introduction to attachment theory and attachment-based therapies.
Mel's two-year residency a Phoenix Interfaith Counseling's Glendale Office enables her to conduct group and individual therapy sessions. She used cognitive behavioral (CBT) and dialectical behavioral (DBT) approaches to help these clients manage anxiety disorders, PTSD, mood disorders, personality dysfunctions such as borderline personality disorder, and eating disorders. She is trained as an EMDR trauma therapist, and specializes in adult attachment issues.
Mel is a member of the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) and the American Counseling Association (ACA). She is a retired board member of RESOLVE of Arizona, a fertility support organization. While there, she served as the helpline director for four years.
Specific Issue(s) I'm Skilled at Helping With
I feel particularly adept at helping people who have experienced trauma - whether physically, sexually, psychologically or emotionally - at some time in their lies and who continue to struggle with reminders of it today. I am able to help stabilize what can sometimes feel like re-experiiencing of that trauma through teaching and facilitating application of skills to live differently and then helping the person to look back and effectively reprocess that traumatic experience. Sometimes there are multiple traumas that group together. EMDR is the fastest and most effective way I know to recover from these and secure a life worth living.
My Role as a Therapist
The way I see my role as therapist is as a well-informed and caring helper. I do not take an authoritarian approach where the onus is on you to talk and cry throughout the session while I nod and provide tissues. I use a white board and lots of humor to get right to the identified goals of the session and make sure that you walk out of each session with a plan for skills to try and a phone number to call me anytime between 9AM and 9PM, 7 days a week for coaching if necessary to ensure the success of that plan. The calls are not available as a means for more therapy. They are 5 minutes or shorter and are a means to keep the therapy fresh and effective throughout the time that elapses between sessions.