Seacoast Integrative Psychotherapy
                           Phil Harford, LICSW

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Welcome!


   As a professional counselor with nearly 20 years of clinical experience, I seek foremost to provide an empathetic, compassionate, and respectful experience for those who choose to work with me.  For most, emotional and interpersonal health will require the resolution of past interpersonal and emotional trauma, whether large or small. From the "Coherence Therapy" approach which is drawn from sound neuroscience research regarding "memory reconsolidation," we learn that all problems and symptoms have an underlying "emotional truth" or emotional learning.  Problematic behavioral problems are therefore "coherent" when understood in light of past experience. Therapy is about identifying the past experience and creating the opportunity for the emotional learning to be "reconsolidated" or transformed so that the problematic behaviors are not longer necessary.  This approach starts without judgement as there is always a good reason why problematic behaviors are so difficult to change through sheer willpower.  When there is a post-traumatic stress response, narrative memory and verbal expression become inhibited and in such cases a "bottom-up" mind/body approach such as EMDR is typically more effective than traditional "top down" therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (although CBT are certainly valuable). For others, resolving inner conflicts and modifying behavioral patterns may improve their quality of life.  I am licensed in New Hamphire, certified in clinical hypnosis through the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy, and certified as a trauma clinician by the International Association of Trauma Professionals.

   Neuroscience research suggests that psychotherapy can lead to positive changes in the brain's neural circuitry. For those interested in knowing about particular therapy approaches, I utilize an "integrative" approach for changing old emotional learning and modifying negative life patterns.  From a primary framework of coherence therapy I may draw from evidence-based cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic, mindfulness-based therapies such as ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), EMDR, Eriksonian hypnotherapy, emotion/body-oriented therapies and energy/acupressure techniques.  With couples I draw from Gottman Method, and Emotion-Focused Therapy.  Consistent with a "positive psychology" perspective, I believe that therapy helps to unlock one's own innate healing process. I may incorporate positive, solution-focused guided-imagery for acquiring healthy attachment in relationships and for creating healthy new life patterns. Clients with religious or spiritual and non-religious orientations are all welcome.

   My education includes a Master's degree in counseling from Boston College and a Master's degree in clinical social work from the University of Maryland.    My experience as a therapist includes working with adult survivors of abuse and neglect, post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative disorders, panic and anxiety problems, depression, relationship and couples problems, grief and loss, coping with stress and life transition and coping with illness and chronic pain.  I have been certified as a hypnotherapist by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy and use a "permissive" style of hypnosis.  I plan to eventually add neurofeedback to my practice.

   Because anyone who benefits from psychotherapy is a unique individual with unique life experiences, the most important factor in psychotherapy is the therapeutic relationship.  When there is a good rapport between the counselor and the client, there is more likely to be a successful outcome.  I emphasize that any client who begins to work with me use the first few sessions to evaluate whether counseling with me will be a good fit for them.  Those who are religious or spiritual as well as non-religious are all welcome.  


To listen to a Portsmouth, NH based radio blog interview in which I describe treatment using EMDR and hypnosis click here: 

Radio Blog Interview: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/susanlager/2012/02/09/effective-trauma-treatment-and-its-impact-on-relationships