Licensed Psychologist, Dr. Samantha Gaies, is an expert in using hypnosis and integrative methods for eating disorders, insomnia, relationships, trauma, anxiety and depression. She has developed her own specialized method, which combines advanced hypnosis techniques, mindfulness, interpersonal theory, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to help propel patients forward so they can live more satisfying lives. Her clinical practice integrates her extensive education from Northwestern University, NYU, and UT, her clinical research and training from the VA Medical System, and her personal interest and professional training in both hypnosis and mindfulness meditation.
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Dr. Gaies’s first foray into the exploration of emotions and human experience began during her academic pursuits at Northwestern University where she majored in Radio/TV/Film. After only a few years of working with fictional characters, however, Dr. Gaies realized that she would prefer to work in a field in which she could help real people. She began her professional career in psychology at a national research foundation, where she assessed individuals’ aptitudes in order to help them better understand how to find more satisfaction in their careers and educational pursuits. A few years later, she began her academic training in psychology at New York University (NYU), where she completed master’s level courses in General Psychology.
A year after enrolling at NYU, Dr. Gaies accepted an offer at the University of Texas at Austin to join their doctoral program, where she obtained an M.A. in Educational Psychology and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. During her academic career, her research pertained to exploring the positive effects of mindfulness and self-compassion in relation to physical and mental health, as well as an exploration about how mental health stigma affects treatment. Her dissertation explored the negative impact of over-diagnosing clients and investigated ways in which psychologists can ensure that patients are treated with respect and dignity as unique individuals while in treatment.
After finishing her coursework, Dr. Gaies went on to complete both her Pre-Doctoral Internship and Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, where she spent more than half of her time specializing in Health Psychology disciplines such as chronic pain, insomnia, cardiac anxiety, sexual health, and weight management. During her training, Dr. Gaies also worked in the Trauma Recovery Program/Military Sexual Trauma Unit, where she helped individuals work through their experience of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) using Prolonged Exposure (PE) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT); Dr. Gaies became VA-certified in CPT. She also spent time training in the General Mental Health/Severe Mental Illness clinic, where she became VA-certified in Motivational Interviewing (MI). In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Gaies has spent ample time presenting to groups of patients and medical professionals about mindfulness meditation and self-compassion and the benefits both can have on one’s physical and mental health.
Beginning in 2009, Dr. Gaies began incorporating Eastern psychological principles into her training and practice. Since that time, in addition to traditional training in psychodynamic theories, interpersonal techniques, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which she received in her APA-accredited doctoral program, Dr. Gaies trained extensively in mindfulness meditation, self-compassion theories and practice, hypnosis, and acceptance-based techniques (e.g., Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)). Dr. Gaies continues to participate in ongoing trainings in hypnosis, mindfulness, ACT, and other integrative health approaches in order to stay at the cutting edge of new research and theories pertaining to mental health.
Dr. Gaies believes that the therapeutic relationship is paramount to any successful therapy. She begins all of her relationships by creating an open, safe, authentic, and collaborative environment for every client. By viewing every relationship as unique, Dr. Gaies is able to help each client build an individualized plan that combines hypnotic techniques, mindfulness, interpersonal exploration, and CBT and/or ACT techniques. By using this blend of modalities, Dr. Gaies is able to cater to an individual’s personal needs in order to reach specific therapeutic goals. She works with a broad range of presenting concerns, though she specializes in chronic pain, insomnia, binge eating, sexual health, trauma, anxiety, and depression.