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Karen Doyle has devoted her life to helping people seek the life that is ideal for them.
A licensed independent social worker for more than 20 years, Doyle and Clinical Psychologist Dr. Howard Ottenheimer, Ph.D. have teamed up to help people with emotional issues.
Splitting her time between Santa Fe and Los Alamos, Doyle opened up a practice in July at 110 East Gate Road. Doyle and Ottenheimer specialize in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Ottenheimer practices mostly in Santa Fe.
Doyle has seven years of experience with DBT, which is designed to help people change patterns of behavior that are not effective, such as self-harm, suicidal thinking, eating disorders, depression and substance abuse. “It is a way to looking at both sides of a situation, role reversing and finding a middle ground to deal and not make things worse,” Doyle said.
The treatment is not psychotherapy, but rather using life skills and the modules to modify unhealthy behaviors.
The evidence-based therapy uses four modules as a guide for successful recovery.
• Mindfulness: The capacity to pay attention and live in the moment, experiencing emotion and all senses with a conscious perspective.
“The core component is mindfulness — the program demands to take a look at life,” Doyle said.
• Interpersonal effectiveness: Ways of dealing with problem solving, interpersonal skills and coming to terms with conflict.
“We are decision making beings and we have to work to stimulate the brain so that the trauma can be released,” Doyle said. “The structure will install positive cognition to situations.”
• Emotional regulation: Learning to regulate and control emotions by using a variation of social skills techniques. “Clients learn to hit a pause button,” Doyle said.
• Distress tolerance: Recognizing negative situations instead of becoming overwhelmed by them or hiding from them.
Doyle said she is excited to continue to expand the practice in Los Alamos and offer the skilled experience of DBT. “Being in Los Alamos is convenient for people so they don’t have to go to Santa Fe (for treatment),” Doyle said.
Her office is open Tuesdays and Thursdays, the latter of which, she holds group therapy from 5:30-7:15 p.m.
It is necessary to have group as well as individual counseling for the therapy to work for someone, Doyle said. “People don’t feel so isolated and alone.”
So far, she said she has 10 clients in the Los Alamos area, people from all walks of life. The program with group and individual therapy takes six months to a year to complete and requires at least a six month commitment.
Expected benefits from the program include (according to Doyle’s information):
• An increase in emotional stability
• Improved relationships with peers, family and ones self
• The development of an awareness of being “present” or engaged in each moment of life rather than being caught in worry about the past and future.
• Deeper connections with others
• An improved quality of life
Doyle offers her clients the opportunity to call her if they are having trouble, however she does not do therapy over the phone.
She also uses other forms of therapy, including a treatment for trauma treatment called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). The therapy can be used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Doyle describes it as recreating REM sleep by stimulating the brain and releasing the trauma in unconscious material.
After these therapies, “you do see people’s lives change,” she said.
Doyle accepts Blue Cross Blue Shield, Presbyterian and Lovelace plans.
To make an appointment at either the Los Alamos or Santa Fe office, call 982-2470.