Ayme Krogstad is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Montana specializing in anxiety, trauma, and ADHD. We asked Ayme more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.
Ayme’s background and personal life
How did you decide to become a therapist?
Looking back on my path to becoming a therapist it may seem pretty obvious how I ended up here. However, like most people, it wasn't always apparent to me where I was headed.
I am adopted, which made me naturally curious about the "nature vs. nurture" debate and I always seemed to be the person people would come to with their problems. I was even nominated to be a peer mediator by my middle school counselor, helping to resolve small conflicts between classmates.
I also grew up practicing classical ballet, modern and contemporary dance and assisted with a dance class for children with special needs at my studio during high school. Talk about foreshadowing!
When I abruptly abandoned my desire to become a photographer at the end of my sophomore year of college the next obvious move was to do what my roommate was doing - psychology.
A brief flirtation with becoming a graphic designer solidified the realization that I wouldn't never survive at a job that required me to stare at a screen or sit for long periods so I took a couple jobs working at therapeutic programs for struggling teens and their families.
A few years after graduating from undergrad I discovered the Dance and Movement Therapy program at Lesley University in Boston and the rest is basically history. I graduated from that program in 2015, moved back to my home state of Montana and began my private practice in 2018.
What was your previous work before going into private practice?
I worked at several programs for teens and families in crisis as well as several non-profit agencies working with the unhoused in Boston and children with behavioral issues in the public schools.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Anything outdoors - skiing, mountain biking, hiking, walking, rafting, paddle boarding. I'm a "Montana girl" through and through, and of course DANCING! I also dabble in hula hooping and used to fire hoop, though it's been a few years.
Ayme’s specialties and therapy philosophies
What guiding principles inform your work?
Your brain is not there for you to think or feel - it's there to manage your body's budget so you can survive. Thinking and feeling are byproducts, not the main event. When you understand this and the impact it has on how you perceive reality, it changes everything you know to be true about your experience and empowers you to have real control.
What clientele do you work with most frequently?
Busy, smart, burned out women who have been convinced there is "something wrong" with them. Most have some combination of trauma, anxiety and ADHD that have gone undiagnosed or untreated.
Can you tell us more about your specialty in anxiety?
Anxiety is mind-body split that happens in the body but is perceived in the mind. This causes many people to try to talk or think their way out of how they are feeling, which just makes things worse. If you want to successfully manage anxiety you have to learn to speak your body's language - movement. This is why I developed what I call the PRO method to help my clients learn the skills necessary to rebuild the connection they've lost with their body. PRO stands for pause, resource and observe. Using this method you can retrain your nervous system to response more appropriately to stress and anxiety in the moment and shift the way you perceive and experience anxiety in the long run.
Can you tell us more about your specialty in trauma?
First, we need to understand the difference between trauma and emotional wounding as they are two different things I see a lot of people getting confused about.
Trauma, often referred to as "big T trauma," happens when youre body perceives a life threat and goes into one of the stress responses - fight, flight, freeze, cry for help, play dead, collapse/numb out. This could be something like a car crash or extreme physical injury or chronic physical and emotional abuse as a child.
Emotional wounding, sometimes referred to as "little t trauma," is something we all experience to a certain degree. The dichotomy of being human is that we both need other people to help regulate ourselves but can also hurt or be hurt by people. Most of this hurt is done in childhood, though that isn't to say we can't experience major emotional upheaval as adults either. Divorce, infidelity, chronic stress and death are all things that can cause devastating emotional wounds that can manifest as "trauma" in our lives.
Like anxiety, trauma and emotional wounding is something that is held in the body but perceived in the mind and is perpetuated when someone is not able to stay present with their experience. Many people dissociate, or become disconnected from their experience, without realizing it making it difficult to address what's really going on. I use a combination of dance/movement therapy, meditation (traditional and EEG assisted), and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy techniques to gently teach clients how to stay present with their experience so they can release the held trauma or emotional wounding in their body
Can you tell us about your work with clients with ADHD?
I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 22 and spent over a decade in denial about it. Finally, when I started running my own business I decided it was time I addressed my symptoms. Turns out specializing in anxiety and trauma gave me all the tools I needed to treat my own symptoms without medication so naturally I wanted to share this with clients too!
Even if someone received a diagnosis early on in life it's unlikely they were given the support and guidance they needed to learn to successfully navigate the world with their unique brain wiring. This leads to low self-esteem/self-worth and a strong tendency to be overly harsh and critical, which drives chronic stress and exacerbates ADHD symptoms.
This is why we have to lead with self-compassion and learning the same PRO method I teach my clients to manage anxiety in the moment. You'd be surprised how much of the difficulty people experience with ADHD is actually chronic stress and poor diet! However, before you can manage either of these things in the long term you must develop the ability to manage your symptoms in the moment.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
Seeing clients go from hopeless to thriving—there's no better feeling than knowing you had a positive impact on someone's life.
Therapy sessions with Ayme
What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?
The first session is all about building rapport and getting to know one another. I will ask you a lot of questions and, if you're open to it, we will run through a few movement exercises and assessments to get a sense for how you currently live in your body.
How long do clients typically see you for?
Clients seeing me for anxiety and ADHD that do not have a significant trauma history tend to see me for about a year. Those seeing me for more significant trauma tend to see me for anywhere between a year to two years.
I also have an online coaching program I created to help busy, stressed out women learn the PRO method and how to apply it in 90 days or less. It's called Move Into Ease and is intended for those who are a better fit for coaching and want to see results quickly.
Are there any books you often recommend to clients?
Oh man...I LOVE to read (or listen to audiobooks). Here's my list:
- Dopamine Nation - Dr. Anna Lemke
- How Emotions Are Made - Lisa Feldman-Barrett
- 7 and 1/2 Lessons About the Brain - Lisa Feldman-Barrett
- Behave - Robert Sapolsky
- Why We Sleep - Matthew Walker
- Breathe - James Nestor
- The Gift of Therapy - Irvin Yalom
- Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell
- Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell
- The Body Keeps the Score - Bessel Van Der Klok
- Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors - Janina Fisher
- Can't Hurt Me - David Goggins (audio book version is the best)
- 12 Rules For Life - Jordan Peterson
- 12 More Rules for Life - Jordan Peterson
- Wired for Love - Stan Tatkin
Do you assign “homework” between sessions?
Yes, but I don't like to call it that. I much prefer to see it as an "invitation" as calling something homework can elicit a negative response that biases people away from participating.
Each invitation is unique to the person and is a collaboration we come up with based on where you currently are in your journey. Some examples might be to practice adding more playful movement into your day, or to go out and get morning light in your eyes to help reset your circadian rhythm if you're struggling with sleep or fatigue. They are always rooted in my expertise and often influenced by whatever neuroscience or psychology literature I am consuming at the time. I'm a bit of a psychology/self-development maven and LOVE to consume information to share it with others.
How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?
I am a firm believer in assessments. There is really no other way to experience tangible results that to assess and measure them. I use both an attachment self-assessment developed by attachment expert Dr. Dan Brown of Harvard in conjunction with The Attachment Project as well as several movement based assessments from dance therapy and Laban Movement Analysis.
How do I know that it’s time to start seeking therapy?
If you symptoms are interfering with your ability to function - or if you see yourself headed in that direction and want to nip it in the bud.
How can I prepare for our first session?
A willingness to move and sit with discomfort, and maybe some stretchy pants though it's not a requirement.
How will I know it’s time to end my time in therapy with you or reduce session frequency?
I believe in a collaborative care model and speak frequently with my clients about their goals, treatment planning and trajectory so they know when it's time to spread their wings and fly!
Why should I seek therapy, rather than turning to my partner, friends, or other loved ones?
Because of something called transference and countertransference, which is just a fancy way of describing when someone projects their own biases or experiences on to someone else and allows them to get in the way of how they support that person or seek support from someone.
Most people are not trained in how to be aware of their own biases and how they can negatively impact or influence the way they support or seek support from a friend of family member. Therapists are trained to not only be aware of these pitfalls but to use them as material to strengthen the relationship and drive progress.
This is why there are such strict ethical requirements around how therapists are supposed to behave and interact with people, both online and in person.
What advice would you share with therapy seekers?
You don't actually want therapy to be "more affordable" or "more convenient." I know it might sound harsh or uncaring but hear me out.
There is a cost to cheap goods and labor that we often are shielded from, sometimes on purpose. In industries like fashion and tech the cost is overseas sweatshops, child labor and working conditions most people in America can't even fathom.
While therapists are experiencing anything this dire, the demand for "more affordable therapy" does create a burden and cost that falls squarely on the therapist, preventing them from having the time, resources, or energy to provide the kind of quality care people expect from a licensed professional.
This is why lawyers charge for "billable hours" rather than just when you are seeing them in their office or when they are representing you in court. Therapy should really be done the same way because the time spent in session with a client is a fraction of where your energy really goes, but that's not how the current (and very broken) medical model works.
The best advice I can give you is to decide how important it is for you to solve whatever problem you are seeking therapy for and to have a radically honest conversation with yourself about what extras you'd be willing to sacrifice for a little while to make it happen. If the problem isn't worth spending $150 a week to solve then you don't need to be in therapy.
Visit Ayme’s profile to read more about her and book an initial call!