“If you find yourself struggling to overcome trauma, maintain healthy relationships, or cope with anxiety, I would be happy to talk with you about my approach to therapy and how we might work collaboratively to empower you to make meaningful changes in your life. I specialize in providing clinical services to child, adolescent and adult survivors of trauma, including sexual abuse, physical abuse and witnessing violence. I offer an integrated approach which, in part, uses body-awareness to restore self-regulation and resolve symptoms of trauma. I provide a safe, nonjudgemental space for clients to explore their inner strengths and use those strengths to grow and heal.”
About Anne Gialanella, LPC, SEP, NCC
In my psychotherapy practice, I work collaboratively with clients who are struggling to overcome trauma, maintain healthy relationships, or cope with anxiety or depression. I help empower clients to make meaningful changes in their lives. I offer an integrated approach that, in addition to traditional talk therapy, includes mindfulness, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and the mind-body techniques of Somatic Experiencing. Since graduating from New York University with a Master’s degree in Counseling for Mental Health & Wellness, I have been working with children, adolescents and adults in a variety of settings, including: private practice, a holistic wellness center, a rape crisis center, an addictions program, a college counseling center and a children’s advocacy center.
My Experience Working with Survivors of Sexual Violence
In my work at The DC Rape Crisis Center, I provided clients with individual and group therapy. I have also worked with survivors in all of the other above-mentioned settings. I have received training in Trauma-Focused CBT and Somatic Experiencing. I use both modalities in my work with survivors.
My Interest in Working with Survivors
Unfortunately the rate of sexual violence is so high in our society that I’ve found it impossible not to work with survivors. I want to provide them with the best possible support and so have made trainings and experience a priority of mine as I’ve grown as a therapist. Unlike other types of trauma, victim blaming and shame are very prevalent and those are two areas that I find especially important to address when working with survivors of sexual violence.
I have a master’s degree in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness so my training and approach has always been strengths-based and client-centered. I predominately use Somatic Experiencing in my work with trauma survivors as well as TF-CBT. I incorporate aspects of mindfulness as well. In my work at The Viva Center , I can collaborate and consult with other practitioners who have trauma-informed practices. These practitioners include acupuncturists, a naturopathic doctor, physical therapists, reiki practitioners, and other psychotherapists that use neurofeedback and EMDR.
How Somatic Experiencing Holistically Addresses Sexual Trauma
Somatic Experiencing (SE) addresses the physical symptoms of sexual violence by focusing on sensations in the body. During treatment, I support clients in techniques of grounding and orienting. I help them identify places of calm in their body as well as how to manage physical pain or distress. We address the mental aspects of healing in observing the physical sensations and being curious about how they affect the client’s mental health and what images or thoughts might come to mind as the client is aware of different physical sensations. In using Somatic Experiencing, the client is encouraged to be aware of whatever is present so as spiritual questions or concerns arise, I address them in session. I address the energetic aspect of healing in part by providing clients with psycho-education about the nervous system and helping them to differentiate between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.
Modifications for Survivors
I always take a few sessions at the beginning of treatment to thoroughly assess where a client is in terms of their healing and mental health as we begin treatment together. I encourage clients to gradually take notice of our therapy room and if needed, I move my chair closer or further from them, or make other physical changes (within reason) to the room so they can feel safe there. I also introduce Somatic Experiencing at a pace that feels comfortable with the client. Since I use SE in conjunction with more traditional talk therapy, I am able to tailor my approach to best meet the needs of each client.
When I was earning hours for licensure, I was a long-term volunteer at a non-profit organization called So Others Might Eat (SOME). SOME provides many services for the homeless population in Washington, DC, including addiction treatment. I provided both individual and group counseling to participants undergoing addiction treatment and it became clear that many of them had a history of sexual violence as well. In my work at Safe Shores, the DC Children’s Advocacy Center, I worked with clients from age 4 to 17. Most of my clients had been sexually abused and I used a combination of play therapy and TF-CBT to facilitate healing. And finally, in my work at George Washington University’s Counseling Center, I had many clients who had experienced sexual violence, either on campus or while studying abroad.
I offer a limited number of sliding-scale slots in my private practice.