Debra Ruisard is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor with extensive knowledge and experience working with individuals who have early childhood experiences of complex trauma. She received both her Master and Doctor of Social Work Degrees from Rutgers University. She has over 12 years of experience working in inpatient, outpatient, residential and private practice settings specializing in treating adolescents and adults who have experienced traumatic stress and co-occurring substance use disorders. She is the Clinical Director at The Center for Great Expectations a non-profit agency in Somerset, NJ, that serves homeless pregnant and parenting adults and adolescents with substance use and mental health disorders. She is a part-time lecturer at Rutgers University School of Social Work.
“Making the decision to engage in psychotherapy is an important step in healing from traumatic life events that leave emotional wounds long into adulthood and often lead to depression, anxiety, PTSD, relationship issues and personal distress. I work with individuals who wish to address the impact of traumatic stress from early childhood experiences of relational, emotional, physical and sexual abuse as well as domestic violence, sexual assault and other traumatic events that occur in adolescence and adulthood. My approach to working with individuals suffering from traumatic stress comes from an understanding that trauma is stored in the body. Often traditional talk therapy is ineffective until one learns how to calm the body’s heightened state of anxiety and therefore allowing the mind to focus on healing rather than survival.
Almost 80% of individuals who struggle with substance abuse have also experienced trauma. Substance abuse is often an effective but maladaptive coping strategy for the emotional and physical stress responses that linger long after the traumatic experience is over. When the decision is made to stop abusing substances, these trauma symptoms return and increase the risk of relapse. I assist clients to understand the impact that trauma has on their current functioning, to discover the connection between their substance use and their trauma symptoms, and to develop new strategies for recovery that start with the body.
My therapeutic approach is psychodynamic and based in attachment theory. In addition to using traditional psychotherapy techniques, I utilize EMDR and Sensory Motor Psychotherapy for treating the symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders that cause distress. I am a Registered Yoga Teacher and promote the benefits of combining trauma sensitive yoga practices (meditation, breathing, mindfulness, postures, etc) with psychotherapy.”
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