What is your role at Integrated Care Clinic?
Hi I’m Dr. Crecraft, a postdoctoral fellow. My passion for working with clients who have experienced trauma, re-develop a sense of safety and regain control of their lives. I help clients replace negative life patterns that are keeping them from moving forward and create healthy boundaries and coping skills that will lead to healthier and more fulfilling lives. I also see depressed or anxious teens or adults, young adults transitioning into college, and couples having a hard time communicating, parenting, or just getting along.
Let’s break the ice: if you had to eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Wow, I don’t know if I can break it down to just one! I would have to say sushi, and cheese. I could eat these two foods forever and be completely content. My friends joke about my love for tuna sushi, and it is not unheard of for me to eat sushi for both lunch and dinner. I can’t wait to travel to Japan one day so that it can be socially acceptable to eat sushi for all three meals. That being said my love of cheese is just as great! I love getting to try out different cheeses along my travels and really appreciate the cultural differences. One of my highlights of my France trip was getting to order cheese at every meal. Seeing a pattern here? 🙂
Where did you go to school for undergrad? What did you study?
I went to undergrad at the University of Florida, Go Gators! I am one of those lucky people who has known since high school that I wanted to be a psychologist so I was able to major in Psychology at UF. It was nice to be able to take so many classes in my area of interest. I chose to minor in education, which has come in handy when working with kids.
Where did you go to graduate school?
After attending the University of Florida, I decided I wanted to go to graduate school in equally nice weather so I chose to apply to programs in California. I received my first masters degree at Pepperdine University in Malibu, where I studied Marriage and Family Therapy. After that, I began to work in the field before deciding to go back to school at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant University in Los Angeles. Here, I received another Masters Degree and a Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology.
Why did you decide to become a psychologist?
I decided to become a psychologist when I was in high school and I got my first taste of psychology classes. It wasn’t until I reached the University of Florida, however, that I decided that working with trauma was my passion. At UF I was in a sorority and I observed the sexual assault crisis that occurs on college campuses in the United States. I saw how women were victimized and then not supported by peer groups or universities. I witnessed how closed groups like fraternal organizations appeared to have a higher instance of assault than greater campus population and that those assaults appeared to be mishandled by the organizations at that time. This passion grew into my dissertation topic in graduate school as I researched sexual assault on college campuses and treatment approaches to work with survivors. I enjoy being an advocate for my clients and love seeing the empowerment and growth that happens as survivors process their trauma and take back their power.
What are you most passionate about?
Clinically I am most passionate about helping trauma survivors reestablish safety and build the life that they want to live. I also love helping teens, college students, and young adults who are transitioning into adulthood develop confidence, and navigate the many pitfalls that can come up along the way. In my personal life, I am most passionate about my family and friends and creating the balanced life I am always talking to my clients about. If you don’t take care of yourself you are unable to take care of the other people in your life or perform to the best of your ability after all! 🙂
Do you have any pets?
I have two dogs, Barrington (aka Bear) and Wyatt. Bear is a 4 year old 120lb German Shepherd/Great Pyrenees mix who is the sweetest dog around. He loves to run, bike, go to the dog beach, and go for car rides with me. Wyatt is a Min Pin/Pitbull mix and the newest addition to our little family at 8 months old. He still has the hyperactivity of a puppy and loves destroying things in my house and picking on his older brother. I love that he is so fearless that he will jump off the back of a moving boat if you aren’t watching him. He has the biggest personality in his tiny body, and I don’t know what I would do without these two guys!
Tell us your favorite joke!
Ohhh man, I am not much of a standard joke teller. You won’t hear me tell dad jokes that you could have found on Facebook or in memes. I much prefer the occasional sarcastic comment or gentle nudging you get from your good friends.
What are the client ages you work with?
I have worked with clients aged three to 83, but I currently work most with teens, college students, and adults. Each age group brings its own sense of fulfillment and challenges and I love that I have the flexibility to work with such a wide range of age groups.
What clinical rotations/internships/residency have you done, and how have these shaped you as a clinician?
I really pride myself on the wide range of experiences that I have had. I began my clinical training working with at-risk high school students providing short term treatment to help students improve their decision making abilities at a program called Getting Out By Going In in Inglewood, California. Here I learned that sometimes treatment needs to be non-conventional and that meeting clients where they are at is of the utmost importance. My next position was at Sylmar Health and Rehabilitation in Sylmar, California. This site was a private inpatient facility and Baker Act receiving facility where I worked with chronically mentally ill clients and clients in acute crisis. Here I learned to both assess and manage crisis situations. At this time I also had a volunteer position at Didi Hirsch Suicide Hotline in Culver City, California, where I received additional crisis training which has been invaluable in my clinical work. My next position was at San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center in Van Nuys, California, where I worked with older adults at a community mental health center and gained experience working with personality disorders. My next training site was at the Children, Youth, and Family Services Consortium School Based Program in Alhambra, California where I learned to provide group and individual therapy to elementary school-aged children. As I progressed in my training I worked at Prototypes in Pasadena, California, which was another community mental health center where I began to work with adults and utilize evidence-based treatments. I then continued at Wise & Healthy Aging in Santa Monica, California where I gained further experience working with both older adults and personality disorders and received additional training running groups. I then completed a two year rotation at the Wright Institute, Los Angeles where I saw adult clients for long term psychodynamic treatment and gained further experience with couples therapy. This intensive study focused on interpersonal therapy and allowed me to take formal courses about depth work and to see immense growth in my clients. While I worked at the Wright Institute, I was also working as a postdoctoral fellow in a Private Practice in Santa Monica, California for Dr. Katja Pohl where I gained my first private practice experience. I ultimately decided that I wanted to be back in my home state of Florida, and made the move. When I arrived in the Tampa area I worked for Chrysalis Health, a community mental health center where I began to work intensively with childhood trauma and gained proficiency in TF-CBT and other trauma-related treatments. Here I saw children, teens and adults, and gained further experience healing families and providing parenting strategies. I love that I have had the opportunity to receive so much in-depth training and experience that I can pull from with my current clients at Integrated Care Clinic.
What hobbies do you have? What do you like to do in your free time?
I can’t say that I have any specific hobbies but my free time is usually spent at the dog beach, on a boat, or traveling. Needless to say, Florida is the perfect environment for me because every day is like a vacation and every weekend provides the time and weather to spend time outside (if there is water involved anyway!) Thankfully my dogs love the water too, and you can usually find me, my fiance, and my two dogs at Honeymoon Island on the weekend trying to juggle our rafts and two dogs. Being on a boat and just cruising around, or going scalloping are two more Florida past times that I am thankful for!
Do you have any certifications?
I am certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). This means that I use an evidenced-based trauma therapy to help you process your trauma in a meaningful way so that you can get your life back. Treatment is made up of 8 phases of treatment that I have outlined below:
Psychoeducation: The first stage of TF-CBT is to learn about trauma in general, and about what treatment will be like.
Relaxation: Next there is a skills loading so that you have the tools to manage your trauma symptoms when we reach the narrative stage. You need to have skills like being able to relax, so that you can use them in life and in the session while going over the trauma narrative.
Affective Regulation: Similarly, affective regulation focuses on providing more tools to help calm down. Like relaxation, the goal is to help the client regulate himself or herself. In session we will review different distraction techniques so that clients are prepared when something comes up. Calm clients can list several things they do to distract themselves when a problem arises (e.g. take a walk, listen to music) but in the heat of the moment, it is easy to draw a blank. Spending time planning for when challenging situations occur leaves clients more able to tackle them when they arise.
Cognitive Coping: This is the last part of our coping skills section. Cognitive coping addresses the third type of self-regulation. During this time, I teach people about the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and how to challenge negative thinking patterns. In sessions, we practice searching for facts that challenge the negative thoughts (examining the evidence against the negative thought), begin using positive self-talk (saying good things to yourself), and practice thought stopping (stopping negative thoughts before they spiral into something worse). Once these skills have been practiced with different problems that have arisen in treatment, the client is ready to begin the trauma work.
Trauma Narrative: The narrative is the meat and potatoes part of treatment. The beginning sections of treatment allow the client to be able to tolerate the narrative, and keep from being re-traumatized by discussing the trauma, but the re-processing is what helps clients rewire their brains so that they are able to move past the trauma. The narrative is usually a written representation of the traumatic event, that is gone over several times in session, and changed as the client sees fit. The client divides the narrative into chapters, and can begin wherever he or she likes. Each draft integrates new thoughts, and feelings, and promotes new understanding for the client. Research shows that by going through the trauma in a safe environment at your own pace, you are able to gain mastery over the trauma that has taken hold of your life. After all, isn’t that what this is all about??
In-Vivo Exposure: After the trauma narrative has been mastered, the next step is to address trauma reactions due to environmental triggers. In this stage, the client identifies things that now bring up anxiety due to the trauma. The therapist and client will work through each of the items in the hierarchy until they no longer bring up worry in the client. This state also requires using those skills we learned about in the first three sections!
Conjoint Trauma Narrative: After mastering the trauma narrative with the client in session, I help clients share their trauma narrative with a safe person in their life. For children and adolescents, this is sharing the narrative with a parent/family member that is safe, and has had family sessions at different points in the treatment with client and therapist. Family members are coached about how to react positively to the narrative before the child shares it. Sharing the narrative with a SAFE family member promotes better understanding for the child and family, provides support and praise to the child, gives an opportunity for questions and answers that may have previously been missed, and promotes a higher level of exposure, which creates a further sense of mastery. For adults, this step is sometimes skipped, but it can be valuable to do if there is a SAFE partner, family member, or friend that is willing to participate, and that the client would like to share the narrative with.
Enhancing Safety: This last step is to create a safety plan for the future. If safety is a large concern, I would move this step to the beginning of treatment, as keeping the people safe is the first priority. If not, this step begins to plan for when treatment ends. Self-harm, suicidal thoughts, healthy boundaries, and identifying which coping skills are particularly beneficial is a main component of this section. I typically work with clients to identify future triggering situations, find solutions to problems, teach them about safe boundaries and relationships, and role play triggering situations, so that clients feel confident and equipped to handle whatever comes up!
What do you plan to learn next in your career? Any areas you’d like to learn more about?
I am absolutely loving my time at Integrated Care Clinic, so my plan for the next few years is to continue to be a part of this awesome tribe where we support each other and foster self-growth. I have become really interested in Radically Open-Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RO-DBT) as I see it helping so many of my clients become more open and flexible in their lives and reaping all of the benefits of that! I have taken the introductory training and enjoy our weekly consultation group and seminar at Integrated Care Clinic where we focus on how to best implement RO-DBT with clients. I am REALLY excited to attend the two week intensive training to become certified in RO-DBT this fall!