Donna Gilman, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist specializing in couples therapy, with concentrations in trauma-informed treatment, sex therapy and LGBTQ issues.
Dr. Gilman has been working with couples since 1995 and has taught advanced couples therapy courses to area clinicians in private and community practice, graduate academic settings, and for the Baystate Medical Center through an appointment with Tufts University. Although Bader's is the predominant model from which Dr. Gilman works, she integrates strategies from several models, EFT, Gottman, solution-focused and narrative therapy, among them. She also integrates mindfulness based techniques and is trained in clinical hypnosis and integration of spirituality counseling.
Specialization in Trauma Treatment
Dr. Gilman is well versed in several trauma-informed and energy psychology modalities to transform and release trauma, such as Emotional Freedom Technique, Emotional Trauma Release, Somato-Emotional Release, Psychodrama and Gestalt work.
Couples and Sexuality
Dr. Gilman has a passion for working with couples around emotional and sexual functioning and intimacy, incorporating the three main pillars of the Developmental Model, differentiation theory, attachment theory and neuroscience. It is her goal to help couples navigate the complex, vulnerable and transformative, terrain of emotional and sexual intimacy issues.
She views emotional and sexual intimacy as different sides of the same coin, and understands that while most adults long for greater connection, few have the emotional muscle necessary to create and sustain intimacy. She sees her role as helping each partner to more fully self define, including assessing to what degree each partner is living in alignment with his/her/their own values, become more vulnerable in the expression of their wants needs and desires, learn to emotionally accept and manage difference, set and maintain boundaries, identify defenses, lower their reactivity, regulate their anxiety, and choose more adaptive coping strategies in order to face his/her/their own and their partner's feelings.
Dr. Gilman helps clients address some of the major issues impacting their sexual functioning including sex addiction, infidelity, loss of desire, desire discrepancy, unresolved trauma, body image issues, replication of destructive cycles, questions about sexual identity and sexual orientation, erection and ejaculation issues, fetishism; issues of gender identity; difficulty around orgasm; pain during sex, impact of mood on sexual desire (including side effects of medication), infertility and sex, sexual functioning with chronic pain/illness, sex and physical ability, polyamary, fetishes, cross-dressing and the impact of parenthood, aging or other life transitions on sexual functioning.
Many of the couples Dr. Gilman sees for counseling suffer from undeveloped self definition, have low tolerance of differences, are inexperienced with emotional closeness and have trouble negotiating complicated or even contradictory emotions. She focuses on attachment theory and the impact of the emotional brain on the body to teach couples how they are using their defenses to avoid the feelings of anxiety and shame. By working with each person's sexual details and history, the aim is to help each person to understand the way that attachment, level of differentiation and hardwired conditioning are showing up in the ways they relate to each, both in the bedroom, and outside of it. By learning more adaptive defense strategies and flexing new emotional muscle around vulnerability, truth telling and boundary setting, many of the destructive cycles that create, exacerbate or maintain sexual difficulties, emotional separation and suffering are diminished. Clients learn to experience and express emotionally complex desires and feelings and hold space for their partners to do the same, enhancing the vitality in their sexual encounters and emotional connection.
Ways of Working with Dr. Gilman:
Weekend intensives, Online Couples Counseling and Accountability Coaching for Couples and Individuals
Dr. Gilman also welcomes couples seeking a psycho-spiritual approach to couples work, as well as couples and individuals looking to work from a coaching model. She facilitates private and group weekend retreats for couples and also offers mini-intensives for couples hoping to go deeper into issues and experience transformational growth in a short amount of time.
Although all intensives are tailored to the unique clinical concerns of each couple, every intensive is designed to help the couple break through impasses in dynamic or gridlocked issues, learn to dial down patterns of defensiveness and reactivity that lead to stalemates or hurtful interactions, create more emotional security in oneself and in the relationship and overcome any obstacles to creating sustained emotional and sexual intimacy Typical formats for private intensives include:
3 hour mini intensive: This private mini-intensive is designed to give the couple feedback about gridlocked issues and enmeshed patterns of reactivity as well as to start intervening in these entrenched patterns. Donna will help each pattern to frame his/her/their own unique contributions to the issues. There will be also be time allotted for some practice of new skills. This mini-intensive often lays the groundwork for future, longer intensives or follow-up treatment online if the couple lives in MA or internationally.
6 hour intensive: The six hour intensive affords the time to drill down more deeply into entrenched patterns and practice in real time the skills necessary to bring about lasting developmental change. Dr. Gilman acts as a coach for each partner as he/she/they lean into growth edges and flex new emotional muscle.
8 hour intensive: This is the most popular intensive, next to the two day intensive. Treatment will focus on the three main pillars of the Developmental Model: the concept of differentiation, the interplay of attachment theory and the powerful truths of neuroscience. This is a day packed with insight, developmental growth and changes and tons of practice. In this expanded time frame, the theory and practice of how to become a more differentiated adult who is able to hold onto his/her/themselves in the face of their partner's strong feelings, opposing opinions or differing values. Each partner's attachment styles will be explained and the couple will learn how to dial down the reactive patterns created by the interplay of their two styles. Also included is the powerful research on neuroscience that explains what is going on in the emotional brains and nervous systems of each partner. There will be a focus on self-soothing and learning how to soothe the brain of the partner. The intensive meets 9:00-5:00, typically on a weekend day, with an hour lunch break. Shorter, more frequent breaks can accommodate the style of different learners and processors.
2 day intensive: For couples who are really serious about transforming their relationship and want to make the most progress in the least amount of time, the 2 day intensive is highly recommended. Most out-of-state and bi-coastal couples prefer this option. The intensive meets Saturday and Sunday, 9:00-5:00 each day, with an hour lunch break daily. More time can be scheduled for the Friday night prior. This intensive works the couple very hard, helping each partner to harness his/her/their own developmental energy, take ownership of internal and external opposing tensions, and in real time, greater intimacy and movement around long-standing unresolved issues. This is the Olympics of couples work.
All intensive participants are required to fill out a Diagnostic Questionnaire prior to the intensive and to read "Tell Me No Lies" by Ellyn Bader. Other book recommendations may be made, based on the focus of the work.
Some of the more popular Intensives offered:
Fighting Fair and Resolving Issues: How to get out of "Can't Live with You/ Can't Live Without You" Cycle
Discernment Counseling for Couples on the Brink: Should We Split up or Stay and Work?
Challenges with Sexual Intimacy
Empty Nesters and Adjustment: Who Are We Now?
Big Decisions: How Will We Ever Figure this Out?
For MA and international couples seeking at least 90 minute sessions, Dr. Gilman offers secured online counseling in the Developmental Model.
Accountability Coaching for Individuals and Couples
Coaching is for individuals and couples who wish to work with a psychologist and life coach in a focused coaching relationship. Many of the clients and couples Dr. Gilman has mentored wish to elevate his/her/their level of consciousness, to move through remaining inner blocks, to transcend current narratives about what is possible and to reach the greatest potential for creating on all levels.
These packages are customized based on the individual's or couple's goals and the psychological readiness of the client(s). These packages are designed for those clients who wish to manifest an impressive level of professional, personal and financial success, to put creative visions into motion and reap the rewards of hard inner and outer work. This work may resonate for those who at times feel they can do anything and see an immediate manifestation in his/her/their life but at other times are haunted by lingering self-doubt, resulting in a choking off of flow.
Tired of coming "this close" to transcendence, these individuals seek a higher level of mentoring, one that will allow a dissolution of fear, doubt and self-imposed limits once and for all. The benefits of doing coaching work with a clinical psychologist who is also trained in energy psychology are manifold: one, Dr. Gilman is well versed in the psychological landscape (including unresolved intrapsychic issues stemming from family of origin), sees the potential for harnessing the power of the mind and knows how to help clients drop deeper into the mindfulness and soulfulness that is required to manifest on the highest level.
Contact Dr. Gilman directly for more information on any of these programs at (413) 687-7681.
"Donna has truly helped us see and have compassion for each other's experiences and struggles. Her approach is a wonderful blend of listening and offering suggestions. Sessions with Donna are full of creative exercises and meaningful homework assignments that have furthered our growth, both as individuals and as a couple. Donna encourages us to keep finding ways to connect and to enjoy our lives together."
"Dr. Gilman is wonderful! Through asking questions, using drills, and giving us homework we were able to get to the root of our marital problems quickly. She doesn't judge or take sides. We laughed, we cried, and we learned a lot about ourselves and each other. She gave us the necessary tools to help our marriage survive and to make it better and stronger than it has ever been. We definitely recommend Dr. Gilman if you are having any marital issues."
"Working with Donna Gilman has been transformational for our relationship. We have both grown and see each other in a completely new light. She helped us to learn to really communicate and hear the other. I am certain, without Donna's guidance our relationship would never have survived until now. We are both grateful for working with her and consider her a blessing in our lives."
"When my spouse and I started seeing Donna Gilman, I didn’t realize how close to divorce we were. Through Donna’s wisdom, kindness and skill, we began to understand how we were perpetuating our problems and she taught us tools to help repair our marriage. Unexpectedly, we also grew personally, professionally and spiritually along the way.I will always be grateful."