“It’s important for people to know that it’s okay to have trauma; it’s what you do with it that defines your future.”
Robyn Veazie, MS with HBH pursued a career in mental health counseling to help people heal from their trauma, and live a life they feel proud to thrive in.
Her central values of compassion, courage, and empathy ground Robyn’s practice as she integrates evidence-based techniques, specific to the clients needs, into her sessions.
After earning her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Bay Path University, Robyn spent many years helping children, adolescents, and their parents/caregivers address and overcome trauma-related challenges. She also worked with adults struggling with substance use disorders, and mental health challenges in both inpatient and outpatient settings.
Now, with her mastery of TF-CBT (Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), Robyn helps children, adolescents, and their caregivers process their upsetting and unwanted memories, thoughts, and feelings following traumatic events.
She also practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help adult clients clarify the roots of their trauma, and become aware of how they might be unintentionally hindering their growth.
Clients of all ages will learn the tools and techniques to develop healthy patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior: resulting in a more authentic and self-assured life.
We sat down with Robyn to learn more about her background in the field, and approach to working with clients online or in our West Springfield office.
What inspired you to become a mental health counselor?
I’ve always been fascinated by human behavior. I’ve often wondered why people behave the way they do.
In my undergraduate studies at Bay Path University, I wanted to solve the problem of why some people who are sexually abused commit the same cycle of sexual violence on others, while others stop the cycle of violence.
I discovered that every person who’s ever committed acts of violence against children carries a really extensive trauma history that’s never been addressed or processed. The way that person feels about themselves, stemming from their negative core beliefs, explains why they’re perpetrating crimes on others. They want others to feel the immense hurt, pain, and shame that they feel.
I went on to pursue my Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Bay Path University to learn the necessary skills to practice trauma-focused therapy. After earning my degree, I wanted to gain different experiences in the field, to see which populations would benefit the most from my personal skill set.
What experiences have you had in the field prior to HBH?
I started to work in a rehab facility, but felt burnt out by the systematic issues which prevented effective therapeutic treatment for the clients recovery.
I transitioned to a community-based child advocacy center for children who have experienced violence in their lives, either as victims or witnesses of abuse. I helped a lot of young people process their trauma, using TF-CBT (Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), and maintain healthy coping skills to carry through their lives.
As much as I loved the mission of the advocacy center, and working with the children, I got burnt out by the systematic barriers preventing clients from getting the closure and justice they deserve.
I wanted to work with a family-oriented company that values client care and prioritizes the client’s safety and wellbeing; HBH is just that.
How would you describe your therapeutic approach?
When I’m working with children and adolescents who’ve experienced trauma, I’ll use TF-CBT to help the client understand their negative or distorted patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior resulting from the trauma.
A central goal of TF-CBT is supporting parents and caregivers in building skills they need related to positive parenting, effective communication, and stress management about their child’s trauma.
TF-CBT is a slow and sensitive process. Our work together isn’t always going to feel easy, but I’m here to safely support the client throughout.
What Does TF-CBT Involve?
Some of the core aspects of TF-CBT involve:
Psychoeducation: This first phase of TF-CBT involves educating the client about trauma, and trauma responses. I encourage the client to tell me what they already know about trauma responses, to validate their knowledge.
Learning Relaxation Techniques: We’ll work on relaxation techniques, grounded in the here and now, to help the client cope with trauma responses stored in their body. I’ll use the five senses five senses technique, deep breathing meditations, progressive muscle relaxation techniques, and grounding techniques.
Affective Expression and Regulation: This technique teaches clients how to effectively communicate their feelings with others, using I-statements. This helps the client become more aware of how their brain processes and reacts to their emotions, and helps them understand how miscommunication can happen.
We’ll start to identify what the client is experiencing inside their body, and use visualization and the five-senses technique, to help the client name their emotions and sensations.
Cognitive-Processing: Here, the client and their parent/caregiver learn to understand the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. We’ll explore their negative and disordered thoughts related to the trauma, and work on interrupting and changing negative thought patterns.
Trauma Narrative and Processing: This involves gradual exposure exercises, including written, verbal, or symbolic recounting of traumatic events, to help the client process their experiences and reactions. We’ll continue to work through cognitive distortions, and processing unhelpful/negative thoughts related to the trauma.
In Vivo Exposure: This phase does not always take place and depends on the needs of the client. It involves graduate exposure to trauma reminders in the client’s environment so the client can learn to control their emotional reactions.
Conjoint Parent-Child Sessions: Joint sessions offer the client and their parents/caregivers the opportunity to improve communication, and for therapeutic discussion related to the client’s experience of trauma therapy.
Skill-Building: The last part of TF-CBT involves the client and their parents/caregivers developing skills and strategies to improve the client’s safety and support.
Through our work together, I really try to keep sessions up-beat and positive. It’s important for clients to know that processing their trauma is a positive experience for healing and growth.
What mental health challenges do you address?
I’ll help children, adolescents, and adults work through the following life challenges and situations:
- Anxiety, Panic, and Phobias
- Grief, Loss, and Bereavement
- Self-Harm/Self-Injurious Behaviors
- Personality Disorder
- Substance Use Disorder
- PTSD/Acute Stress
- Domestic Violence
- Sexual Assault
What’s your favorite part of being a therapist?
I’d have to say my favorite part of being a therapist is when a client starts with an extreme trauma history, and through our work together, they start to learn that they are not responsible for what happened and the pain they’ve been caused.
What do you like most about living in Massachusetts?
As for living in Massachusetts, I’ve just met so many incredible people. I jive with people who I never expected to jive with.
If you or your loved one is looking for a therapist who can help you process and heal from traumatic life events, Robyn Veazie, MS with HBH is here for you.
No matter what experience you went through, or how far along you are on your healing journey, Robyn offers a space grounded in safety, support, and growth.
Robyn offers counseling in both our Franklin office, and online throughout the state of Massachusetts. To schedule an appointment with Robyn contact us today at (413) 343-4357.