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Business Spotlight: Therapist seeks to heal using alternative method

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Technique > Form of counseling uses group setting with roots in theater and role playing

By Gina Velasquez

There have been several new tenants to open up shop in the Small Business Center recently and mental health counselor Lori Padilla is among them. Padilla is a therapist that specializes in the technique of “psychodrama and action methods.”

Born and raised in Los Alamos, she works on a part-time schedule, splitting time with her full time job at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. She has worked for LANL for 31 years. Padilla has been taking clients on an a      ppointment-only basis for the past four months.

“I plan to retire from the lab in the next couple of years, so I can work as a therapist full-time,” she said.
Padilla has a bachelor’s degree in organizational psychology, a master’s degree in counseling from the College of Santa Fe and a certificate in psychodrama and action methods from Southwestern College in Santa Fe. She is also licensed LHMC in the state of New Mexico. She received her license in 2012.

“I use techniques from the schools of Psychodrama and Actions Methods, Interpersonal Neurobiology and trauma therapy,” Padilla said. “About 17 years ago, I first participated in a group process where these methods were used.”

Psychodrama translates to “Soul in Action.” She currently has 15 years of professional psychodrama experience.
It was founded by Dr. Jacob L. Moreno, who also was a pioneer of group psychotherapy. In his autobiography, Moreno recalled an encounter with Sigmund Freud in 1912 where he told Freud, “You analyze their dreams. I give them the courage to dream again. You analyze and tear them apart. I let them act out their conflicting roles and help them to put the parts back together again.”

It is a type of therapy that uses spontaneous dramatization, role-playing and dramatic self-presentation to investigate and gain insight to an individual’s own life. It has roots in theater and is done in a group setting.

She also deals with clients suffering from trauma and uses psychodrama to treat it.

Trauma activates and impacts the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and can cause the reasoning part of the brain, also called the pre-frontal cortex to go offline, making it difficult to talk about feelings and thoughts around the trauma.

“I have found that his form of therapy can be particularly effective for some trauma clients because it helps move implicit, sometimes fragmented thoughts, sensations, impulses and feelings to the explicit, where they can differentiate and integrate them into a coherent narrative that promotes healing,” Padilla said.

Padilla first came to the Small Business Center seeking office space. “My colleague Aimee Schnedler had a small office space,” Padilla said. “When she moved into a larger office, I rented her old space.” She said that the location is centrally located and reasonably priced as far as office spaces go. “I’d like to provide the Los Alamos community with more opportunities to learn about this perspective on healing and plan to offer groups in the future that have this type of focus,” Padilla said.

Currently Padilla only sees clients on Wednesday evening and Friday afternoons in Los Alamos by appointment only. She also facilitates a psychodrama group one day a month at a Santa Fe Treatment Center.

“My hope for the future would be to increase my services in Los Alamos to include community psychodrama groups where people would have the opportunity to explore this type of healing,” she said.

Padilla is married to Michael Padilla, who is partnered in a local business called Northern Tree Service. They have two daughters and one granddaughter. Michael is also employed through LANL as well.

For an appointment, call 795-5723. Her office is located at 190 Central Park Square.