Sara Speed, LMHC
EMDR Certified Therapist + Certified First Responder Counselor
"Helping adults break free from pain and self-doubt
to create the life they deserve"
Do you find yourself just going through the motions of day-to-day life? Are you struggling to merely maintain your responsibilities while a complete breakdown feels like one argument, one unmet deadline, one more responsibility on your plate away? You are not alone, and you do not have to feel this way!
The stress of current times coupled with pains from the past are causing unprecedented rates of depression, anxiety, addiction and trauma. Perhaps you have even been to therapy and it was a bust or perhaps this is your first time reaching out. Regardless, I won’t give up on you and I don’t want you to give up on yourself.
Yes, awareness and insight will perhaps tell you why you feel the way you do which is certainly helpful and important, but… then what? I am here to answer that question.
I use scientifically based, solution-focused methods to get you back on track, to thriving instead of surviving. Don’t live another day with a smile on your face but pain in your heart. Let’s fix this together!
Learn More About How I Help Adults + First Responders Live Their Best Lives...
My Counseling Services in Plantation, FL
I Help Adults with the Following Areas:
Single Episode Trauma
Pandemic Adjustment Distress
Gender & Sexual Identity Struggles
Depression & Mood Disorders
Anxiety & Stress Management
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):
CBT puts the power back in your hands. Your feelings and emotions are often dictated by the way you think. Realizing that your thought processes are faulty and not serving you is often the first step on the path to healing.
CBT, another highly studied, and time proven method of psychotherapy that can have a massive effect on the way you feel and how you behave. CBT has been demonstrated to be effective for a wide range of problems including stress, grief, sadness, insomnia, anger, and relationship difficulties. Learn more about CBT here.
Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR):
Many people believe that healing from the past entails reliving their trauma in excruciating detail. This often leads people to shy away from therapy and continue to suppress the experiences and memories that are holding them back. However, that’s not the case with EMDR.
EMDR is a client-centered treatment that uses scientifically based methods to reimagine your past and completely change your perspective of yourself and the world around you without reliving the painful memories. I am not talking about “brainwashing” here or deleting your memories. This is about removing the sting of those memories and breaking the control they have over you and all you do.
EMDR has been heavily researched and documented, and is backed by the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, the Department of Veterans Affairs and many more as an effective treatment for trauma and other afflictions like depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and addiction. Read more about EMDR here.
Over the years, I have done extensive training and worked with thousands of clients struggling with trauma to become a Certified EMDR Therapist, which is a huge passion of mine. If you want to know more about how EMDR can help you overcome anxiety, depression, trauma, and/or PTSD, contact me for your complimentary consultation at 954.391.5305.
Healing the Inner Child:
Every person deserves a life where they are the creators of their own destiny. So often the slate of who we are was written on before we ever had a choice.
The families we were born into and the circumstances that define our childhood determine the way we see the world and every decision we make. I understand that these things are in the past and most people just want to focus on moving forward, but what they do not realize is that inside of every one of us lives a child that just wants to feel accepted, feel that they are good enough, feel that they possess the power to gain mastery over their own lives.
So often these inner children are denied and ignored leading to feelings of rejection, low self-esteem and powerlessness. This leaves the adult with sadness, loneliness, anxiety and immeasurable pain often resulting in unhealthy relationships, addiction and mental anguish. I see that child. I understand him/her. I can help you heal him/her so that you can move on, finally, and claim the life that you want.
Safe & Sound Protocol (SSP):
Another highly effective, evidence-based method I provide is the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP). SSP is a non-invasive listening therapy based on the Polyvagal Theory made popular by Dr. Stephen Porges.
This approach entails listening to specially selected and filtered music created by scientists to send messages of safety and engagement to the brain. Whether it is the pain of your past or the stress of our current living situation, our minds and bodies become stuck in a state of fight or flight hindering us from functioning effectively and experiencing joy.
People who use SSP often report feeling calmer and more grounded, thinking more clearly, and connecting better with those around them. SSP is also an excellent platform as a precursor to traditional talk therapy as it makes the mind more open and available to receive guidance and find insight. Read more about SSP here.
Counseling for First Responders:
Work as a first responder entails a unique set of demands and presents challenges not encountered in any other profession. This is why it is so important for a therapist who works with them to have specialized training.
There are details about the distinctive experience of being a first responder that are just not taught in school. These include coping with an erratic sleep schedule, results of exposure to continual and ongoing trauma, common escapist behavior, the family stress of being absent for so many important occasions, the bond amongst partners, even their perspective on humanity or “dark” sense of humor. Everyone who seeks counseling wants to feel that their therapist “gets them,” and this is even more important for a group of people who feel that very few others can even come close to understanding what they go through.
Becoming a Certified First Responder Counselor is a critical step in being equipped, knowledgeable, and prepared to work with this deserving and in need population. In addition to formalized training, I have learned even more by being the spouse of a first responder myself.
My husband is a firefighter/paramedic and Marine Corp veteran, and I attribute the majority of my knowhow to him. Living and breathing the lifestyle in my own day-to-day has granted me the firsthand experience of watching the effects of first responder work play out right before my eyes. It is an honor and privilege to work with this unique group of individuals, and a cause very close to my heart.
Becoming a Certified First Responder Counselor:
Formal certification to become a first responder counselor is a rigorous, experiential program that entails 50-hours of coursework plus supplemental work with first responders and a comprehensive certification exam at the close of the training.
Content includes the unique mentality and perspective of the first responder, the culture/family of the crew, compound trauma, empathy burnout, and suicide. It also addresses the common stigma of therapy, the importance of confidentiality and trust, and proven treatment strategies.
Though all licensed clinicians are trained in working with various mental health struggles like depression, anxiety, and addiction, a Certified First Responder Counselor is educated in viewing these conditions and more through the unique lens of the people serving and protecting us every day.
Becoming a Certified EMDR Therapist :
EMDR is a powerful and effective tool for a counselor to have in their therapy toolbox. However, it is not one that can be used or advertised without highly specialized training. Our laws and ethics mandate completion of an EMDR International Organization (EMDRIA) approved course with subsequent oversight before a clinician can even say that they are “EMDR trained.”
This training can only be taken by a licensed therapist and entails 20-hours of didactic learning, 20-hours of supervised practicum, and 10-hours of consultation. The course includes education on the scientific basis for EMDR, the 8-phase model of the approach, and how to deliver the treatment safely and effectively.
Once training is completed a therapist is consider qualified to use EMDR in their practice. Certification, however, is a higher level of credentialing in this powerful modality. In addition to licensure and completion of an EMDRIA approved course, a therapist must complete the following requirements to be considered for certification:
A notarized statement of practice and EMDR experience citing at least 2 years of experience in your field, and completion of at least 50 EMDR sessions with at least 25 clients
20-hours of consultation by an EMDR consultant in EMDR therapy
An EMDR consultant letter of recommendation for certification in EMDR
2 letters of recommendation regarding professional practice
12-hours of EMDR specific continuing education
I am passionate about the effectiveness of this amazing treatment, and am both proud and honored to be an EMDR Certified Therapist providing services to adults and first responders in our community.
What initially drew me to the world of counseling and psychotherapy was pure curiosity. Why do people think the way they do? What is it within our minds that causes us to self-sabotage and wallow in pain?
I wanted to know it all, from how our genetics, to our family of origin, to our myriad of life experiences creates a landscape of potential mine fields on the way to happiness. I quenched this curiosity in the field of crisis intervention for nearly a decade and then thought, “now what can I do to help?”
I spent the next decade working with various groups from children, to the elderly, to couples and families learning and practicing different methods to achieve the ultimate goal of us all: freedom from pain and a life full of joy and satisfaction. All of these personal experiences have culminated in an eclectic approach that meets you where you are at and gives you what you need as a unique individual.
Everyone has a story. I am able to tailor my approach to where you have come from, where you are, and where you would like to go. Your goals are my goals and I can help you find your way.
My story begins in New York where I was the daughter of a single mother and member of a loud-boisterous Italian American family. In my early teens I attended a spiritual retreat in the Florida Keys where the first spark of passion for the healing arts began. I returned there every summer and volunteered at a swim-with-the-dolphins program that utilized these amazing creatures as therapy for children with a wide array of disabilities.
I followed my dream to the University of Miami where I majored in Psychology and minored in Biology and was able to combine my interests. After graduating as a member of the International Honors Society in Psychology and on the Dean’s List, I specially selected a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling at Nova Southeastern University in an effort to transition my knowledge base from theory to practice.
I spent my first eight years in the field working for Henderson Behavioral Health, one of the largest mental health service providers in the state. Starting as an assessment specialist in their inpatient facility I grew to become Clinical Coordinator of Crisis Services including their Crisis Walk-In Center and Mobile Crisis Team. It was here that I honed my skills and was able to work with an amazing variety of people and presentations.
I am honored to have earned a Certificate of Meritorious Services, Employee of the Year on two occasions, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Times Award during my time there. My days at Henderson truly laid the foundation for the therapist that I am today.
The last half of my career I have spent working with the families of children with special needs. Realizing that the best outcomes were achieved when the adults of the household were well supported, I was proud to provide individual, couples and family counseling to our clients.
I was also trained in cutting edge therapies like sensorimotor reflex integration which I performed on infants, toddlers, teens and adults. This time in my career broadened my horizons beyond the traditional approaches that we often see in counseling and psychotherapy.
I've done extensive training to become an EMDR Certified Therapist as well as a Certified First Responder Counselor so I can best serve the adults and First Responders that I work with.
Just For Fun
One of my biggest passions is cooking! Whereas preparing a meal after a long day can seem completely overwhelming at times, I find it really grounds and relaxes me. I love nothing more than toiling over a big pot of goodness, sprinkling in herbs, stirring it like a bubbling cauldron and taking in the delicious smells.
My husband, a firefighter for Pompano Beach, and my nine-year-old daughter never seems to complain. And in case anyone is wondering, I am 100% team pineapple on pizza, and hot sauce on EVERYTHING!
Also, my mother is a self-proclaimed hippie and had me trained in Transcendental Meditation when I was thirteen years old. I have always been drawn to alternative medicine and spiritual studies and have fallen back on this practice at some of the most difficult times of my life. I often like to integrate a client’s spirituality into their therapy when desired and teach many relaxation techniques to help manage the unrelenting demand and stress of the world around us.
Why Work with Me?
Because my experience is so varied, so too is my approach. When it comes to therapy, there is no “right way” for everyone. As unique as we are as individuals, our paths to healing are just as unique.
My clients appreciate the time that I take to get to know who they really are and meet them where they are at on their personal journey. I truly see myself as a guide and companion and know that the client-therapist relationship is the cornerstone of a positive and successful experience.
I am available to see individuals, couples and families, and work with, adults and seniors. I am able to provide sessions in the office, online through a HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform, and sometimes outdoors at a local park! Wherever my clients feel most comfortable is where the best work will be done.
"I could belabor all the amazing attributes, of which there are many, that make Sara a remarkable therapist, however, the most important thing to note is her desire and understanding of how to help you change your life for the better. I've seen many therapists in my life, but none have possessed the skills to truly help me process some quite difficult traumas and transform. I doubt there is anyone she couldn't help. I will forever be indebted to Sara, for the therapy she gave me was invaluable. I would and have recommended her to anyone needing therapy! (and quite frankly who out there doesn't?). I hold Sara in my highest regards and thank her from the bottom of my heart."
- Adult EMDR client
"Sara was first recommended to me by a friend who achieved amazing results with Sara and EMDR Therapy. I called Sara and within a few sessions I had noticeable positive accomplishments in my therapy, thanks to the guidance of Sara. Sara is highly knowledgeable, intuitive and skilled in her techniques. Sara is amazing in EMDR and crisis management. I am forever grateful for her services!"
- Business Owner who overcame grief and childhood trauma
"It was my extreme good fortune to be referred to Sara Speed for treatment of grief and depression. To say I was a very broken woman is an understatement. My husband died and I entered in to a relationship with a man with whom I trauma-bonded. It was a very toxic situation. From our first meeting I felt a strong connection with Sara. She was very gentle, reassuring and compassionate. I was so encouraged after our first meeting, especially after she explained how EMDR worked and that I was a perfect candidate for that course of treatment, Coupled with our many therapy sessions that we just talked, I started to heal. I was so impressed that Sara remembered details that I told her about from the start of our sessions until the present moment without referring to her notes... more like a good friend than a therapist. I am thrilled to have reached my goal of repairing my relationship with my son and have come out of a very unhealthy attachment to an abusive man. I am happy, hopeful and extremely grateful to Sara. I have worked with therapists before but never formed what feels like a friendship rather than just a therapist/patient relationship. I know I can call her on an as-needed basis and would not hesitate to do so. Simply put, Sara is a gem and I will always be thankful for her working with me!"
- Client who stepped in to her power and overcame great loss
Best EMDR Therapist in
Coral Springs & Plantation, FL:
Sara Speed's Blogs
I am ready to hear your story and get you on the path to healing and building the life you deserve. Don’t spend one more day suffering!
Call me now for a free consultation or to set up an appointment. I am offering face to face sessions at our Coral Springs office currently and soon to be at our brand new Plantation office starting in October 2022.
I also provide online counseling for those who reside in the state of Florida on our secure telehealth platform. You can reach me by phone at (954) 391-5305. I look forward to speaking with you!