“I like people to know I’m a pastor as well as a therapist so that they don’t get caught off guard when they see my office is a church, “ laughs Suffolk County pastor, Tom Taylor. “I call myself a pastoral psychotherapist. The spiritual counseling happens in the context of the congregation and church life, and I can make that separation when I need to. In my private practice, I’ve seen people of different faiths and no faith. When they want to touch on the spiritual, I can do that.”
In fact, Taylor is uniquely qualified. A former chaplain for fire departments and the Naval Reserve, he also worked extensively with families, recovery workers, and caregivers in the wake of 9/11. His work with the Red Cross, Lutheran Disaster Response of NY, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and Temporary Morgue, and the Tribute Center at Ground Zero all earned him the respect and affection of his colleagues, and the gratitude of those whom he assisted. Now a Master of Social Work and Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress, he maintains a private practice in Lindenhurst.
About his approach, Taylor says, “I treat holistically, really mind-body-spirit. The body is the way into what we want to learn about trauma. The body is more key than cognitive or emotional response. The body holds everything. I always ask where a client is feeling their anger, sadness, grief, whatever it is. Where is it in your body? We start there.”
Among several methods he employs is IADC, or Induced After Death Communication, an unusual and controversial modality. In IADC, the client may make contact with a loved one who has passed away, allowing a thorough processing of grief and sadness. According to Taylor, sometimes it even happens spontaneously.
“In a session, someone might say, ‘I feel my mom’s presence,’ and then I can guide them. We just go with it. When you feel that presence, what are they there for, or do you have anything to ask them? IADC facilitates the grief. It really helps someone through the process. I do think communicating with the other side is a natural part of our existence. It’s powerful and very real, and it doesn’t have to be proven scientifically to still bring healing.”
Not everyone is open to this approach. “Even if I suggest it outright, it’s still up to the client. Some people are ready and some aren’t, and that’s fine. My main mission is to give the client relief as soon as possible. Address the issue the client has come for – that’s the starting point and the purpose. I can make suggestions, but my agenda is to keep this work client-centered. It’s not about me.”
Taylor also utilizes Brainspotting, a technique pioneered by Dr. David Grand, and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Both approaches can be used for healing trauma as well as for performance enhancement. Artists, actors, and athletes have all benefited from the rapid shifts made possible through these techniques.
Pastor Tom himself healed from trauma using EMDR. In the wake of 9/11, and with years of fire chaplaincy before that, he had seen more than his share of pain and suffering. His determination to heal himself and be of service eventually led to graduation from Yeshiva University and subsequent trainings and certifications.
“9/11 helped me realize how human I am. I have a lot more compassion and understanding. Even though I haven’t experienced what my clients have, I’ve matured emotionally and spiritually, personally and professionally because of 9/11. That’s the good thing that came out of a horrible tragedy.
“We’re given choices, and hopefully I’ve made good ones, but I don’t believe in accidents or coincidences anymore. I’m a better pastor now, I’m a better therapist now, and hopefully, I’m also a better person and child of God.”
You can reach Tom Taylor at www.insightfulhealing.org.