Hello, I'm Kristal DeSantis
M.A.,Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist TX#202415
Certified Clinical Trauma Professional #637395
Founder/Director for Austin STRONG: Relationship Building Center
My specialties include: Sex Therapy (including desire discrepancy/ out of control sexual behaviors/recovery from infidelity), EMDR for trauma and PTSD recovery, Gottman Marital Therapy, PREPARE/Enrich Premarital Counseling, Solution Focused Brief Therapy, Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, Conflict and Communication skill-building for high conflict couples, Working with US Veterans and First Responders.
Creator of The STRONG Relationship Model: a trauma-informed approach to couples' therapy.
View the STRONG Relationship Model
Hear me explain the STRONG Model
Learn more about my background and licensing here
Therapy with me
What is Trauma-Informed Therapy?
Trauma-informed work typically focuses on the individual and their relationship with themselves and their own nervous system. One of the most profound and lasting impacts of trauma is a dysregulated nervous system. Trauma informed therapy helps an individual regulate themselves and find safety in their bodies and emotions. However, self-regulation is only the first step in healing from trauma. The second step - and ongoing work - is regulating yourself in relationships and building safety in connection.
What is the difference between your STRONG Model of Relational Therapy and other approaches?
As I was trained as a couples' therapist before seeking trauma certification, I saw that couples therapy approaches tended to work more cognitively and did not address underlying trauma in couples work. I saw that many couples therapists did not acknowledge the impact of trauma on a relationship and so would end up at an impasse with some "difficult" couples. I specialize in high conflict couples and I saw that so many protective and conflict-causing behaviors could be ameliorated when we looked at the underlying attachment injuries and past individual or relational traumas and helped couples hold space for these wounds to be addressed without being re-triggered.
What's the benefit of a trauma-informed couples therapy approach?
Often couples who came to couples therapy with past histories of trauma would be referred out for individual therapy- which at times is necessary, but often created barriers and obstacles for care. With my passion for working with populations of individuals and couples who had experienced trauma, I created the STRONG Model of Relational Therapy -blending both trauma-informed intrapersonal work and relationally focused care. My model helps couples understand the impact of trauma on their relationship and focuses on helping them develop skills to co-regulate each other and handle conflict and communication in healthier ways to build a STRONG relationship.