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Helen Star, MFT logo
H

Helen Star, MFT

San Francisco, California

Helen Star, MFT logo
H

Helen Star, MFT

San Francisco, California

About

I am a psychotherapist in private practice in San Francisco. I specialize in the treatment of stress, addiction, anxiety and trauma recovery. My work is primarily focused retraining the nervous system using somatic therapy techniques. Here is an article describing the approach.

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Q&A

I worked for years at a medical center and started my private practice to be free to practice creatively with my clients toward deep healing.

I am dedicated to helping people live more authentically. I approach my work with a good deal of levity, and creativity. Together you and I create a therapy that works for you.

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Services

Are you experiencing a new challenging life event that you don’t know how to respond to? Are you experiencing situational stressors like relationship challenges, job stress, financial crisis or loss? Or maybe you are going through a more internal struggle such as anxiety, or feelings of inadequacy, panic, doubt, or depression? Psychotherapy can be a practical way of responding to any of these life challenges. Over many years, I have developed a simple, yet effective approach to therapy that provides deep, abiding support to each individual I work with. I intend to see the unique personal story you bring to my consultation room. This support helps to give you a fresh perspective and to understand the life issues you are facing and to develop a solution-focused response. Yes, the aim is to find solutions, and my consultation room is a laboratory where actual life strategies are developed. The intent is that at the end of each session you will take with you a fresh perspective on the problem and new skills to practice. My approach focuses largely on the memories held in the body and the creative way the mind interprets the past to create each individual’s unique way of being in the world. Each aspect of these uniquely creative coping styles has been exquisitely developed throughout the lifetime to conquer psychological obstacles. Some of the solutions the “body/mind” has constructed may not currently be effective… That is probably why you are seeking therapy now. Deciding to engage in psychotherapy is an act of courage. It is not easy to ask for help, especially if you don’t know how therapy might help. If you have been trying to cope with stressful situations for a while now, it is time to try something new and get the support you deserve. Therapy is a practical way of investing in a positive, happier tomorrow.

Do you struggle in your closest relationships? Do you wish you were healthy and felt better physically every day? Are your finances a mess? Or maybe you are just “sick and tired of being sick and tired”? Do you find yourself turning to drugs or alcohol to cope with the daily pressures of life? We can begin to approach the problem first by examining your goals, hopes, and dreams, your motivations for use and triggers for use. It can be particularly helpful to learn how stress and past pain or disappointments factor into the urge to use drugs or alcohol. We will address the conditions of use along with the use itself. We build on your strengths and the passion you have for life and work to create the lifestyle that you want, whether the ideal lifestyle includes drug and alcohol use or not. The assumption is, that as we strengthen your healthy self, the impulses to use in an unhealthy manner will decrease. Using a harm reduction strategy I work hard to meet you “where you are at” and together we determine the path forward. I have many years experience working directly with individuals who want to stop or decrease their use of alcohol and other drugs. I have worked extensively with people who are in a 12 step program. I have a deep understanding of that philosophy and can utilize the principles of 12 step recovery in the therapy session. I also have in-depth experience working with people from a Harm Reduction point of view, meaning we work to mitigate the harm drugs or alcohol is causing in your life.

Anxiety and depression are challenging conditions that can dog you throughout your lifetime. Often, you are coping with these symptoms by merely managing them and it does not always feel that you can shake the dark mood or the sense of being a “bundle of nerves”. The littlest things can set you off into a day, week or month of anxious depression. One way of looking at these conditions is that the symptoms are a manifestation of an unresolved stress response in the nervous system. Think of it as a cog in the wheel of the nervous system that is stuck and can’t complete an action. It is just going to keep trying and trying without resolution. Often chronic depression or anxiety began to develop at a time that the nervous system was unprepared and could not resolve the stress of a life circumstance. You and I need to explore your triggers and understand where the stuck action is and learn to complete it. My approach views the symptoms of depression or anxiety as a basically a function of a nervous system that got taxed at some point and is still trying to come back into balance. The approach includes developing daily coping skills to help stabilize the system as well as talking through the event itself with an eye to what happens physiologically in the moment that the past event is being described. This approach works directly with the sensations of the body to help you understand when you are keyed up or keyed down and helps you to learn how to key down and relax. Resolution comes from a place of self-love and resiliency is built by building support in one’s life. Trauma can live in the body unaddressed for a lifetime. It impacts every aspect of the person’s experience, from health concerns to psychological instability to insecurities in achieving life goals. Working through trauma is the single most important piece in establishing a more harmonious life perspective. Adults often can’t identify the source of their anxieties because it is buried in childhood experience. Or, they know the source, but addressing the impact of trauma has been elusive. Whether you identify a single traumatic experience in your life or you experience the result through a highly strung nervous system, trauma can be addressed through working with the sensations of the body.