Adrienne Loker, LCSW was drawn to the field of Social Work after seeing first hand the path of destruction that addiction left in her own family, simultaneously being uplifted by the echoes of healing that followed. Fascinated by human behavior and the unfair reality that some people were able to recover from their substance use disorder while others were doomed to suffer, Adrienne relocated to Richmond, VA to pursue an undergraduate degree in Social Work (2009) from VA Commonwealth University (VCU). Her focus was in macro practice, believing she could bring about change on a political level. She interned with a grassroots organization and learned about advocating for the underprivileged, community organizing, systemic and cultural oppression, and other humbling lessons that influence her clinical practice. Adrienne went on to pursue her graduate degree in Social Work (2012) from VCU, where she interned for the first African American hospital in the Richmond area on the psychiatric unit, an enriching experience that taught her much about the impact of culture and race on mental health. She then finished her clinical internship with a Juvenile Drug Court program in the Greater Richmond Area.
At the same time Adrienne received her Master's in Social Work, she welcomed her first son into the world. His experience with malnutrition, early trauma, and attachment greatly informed and paralleled Adrienne's work as a novel change agent. Adrienne's sense of identity as a mother greatly influences her vocational direction, as she maintains conscientiousness of what type of community she wishes to leave behind for her family.
Since receiving her Master's Degree, Adrienne’s worked in a variety of mental health settings addressing the roots and manifestations of chemical dependency. Her first job after receiving her Master’s degree was in Virginia’s only Forensic Psychiatric facility providing group and individual therapy to individuals found incompetent to stand trial, not guilty by reason of insanity, and mandated parolees. During her time here, she was discouraged by the rehabilitation efforts of the system, feeling that clients were warehoused over rehabilitated. With her second son on the way, Adrienne was committed to being part of a larger system of change.
Adrienne began working in a residential facility located on an open campus for sexually reactive youth, being one of the only clinicians with a substance use disorder background. There she treated family systems experiencing trauma symptoms from attachment disruptions, sexual assaults, inconsistent parenting, and other traumatic histories. It was here that she considers her journey of specializing in trauma as beginning. She attributes her Licensing Supervisor and Mentor, Sheila Stewart, LCSW, as well as her direct supervisor and team of talented and specialized clinicians, as positioning her with the capacity to be present with others in unspeakable pain.
After becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Adrienne moved on to support the Clinical Director of an outpatient substance abuse treatment center providing intensive outpatient and medication assisted treatment. Adrienne fell in love with the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), finding it an opportunity to connect people to their deeper selves through the emotional interconnectedness of the group setting. She found that the more she focused on trauma, the more clients leaned in and related in. This modality also capitalized on Adrienne's natural humorous and high energy level, and clients often reported feeling excitement rather than the typical dread when it came time for group.
During her time at this treatment facility, Adrienne was approached by another agency to build an IOP of her own. She accepted this offer, and successfully built an experientially based, trauma informed program that helped many people in her community. Adrienne based curriculum off of her training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), ego-state therapy, and psychodrama that targeted self-defeating behaviors directly at their neurological birthplace, rather than remain cerebrally focused through cognitive behavioral methods alone.
Adrienne’s decision to debut her own private practice stems from a desire to renovate community therapy. While running her own IOP, days that once were fueled by passion of recovery, community, and healing, were eventually replaced with long hours of mind numbing chart audits, prior authorization phone calls, and other insurance driven mundane tasks. Disheartened that one IOP participant would have a large monthly premium and deductible and barely approved for services while another person didn't have to pay a dime didn't begin to seem fair. Further adding to the frustration, insurances mandate cookie cutter interventions despite research supporting more effective interventions. It is Adrienne's plan to offer intensive individual sessions with a neurobiologically informed treatment plan, meaning the nervous system is incorporated throughout the therapeutic process. Adrienne utilizes treatment methods that are based in research (look under "Resources" tab for more information) to access body memories. In this way, a person's time in treatment is decreased because we are working with the brain's natural processing system.
Adrienne was trained in EMDR in 2017. At the time of her training, Adrienne had been on a spiritual and healing journey for 15 years. As she sat across another clinician as the test subject desensitizing a benign memory, an intense touchstone memory from the "I'm not good enough" memory network surfaced. This was a powerful moment where Adrienne realized the importance of working with the whole brain and implicit memories. This again fueled her passion for creating accessible trauma-informed treatment for people with substance use disorders so they may clear out painful memory networks as early as possible to safeguard against relapse. Adrienne has since gone on to receive advanced training that allows her to desensitize traumatic material immediately following an event to avoid an individual developing PTSD symptoms. She also has training to desensitize urges and cravings associated with substance use disorders.
Adrienne trained with Katie O’Shea in the Early Childhood Trauma Protocol and Implicit Memory Protocol that allows her to desensitize somatic memories held by parts of self. This is important because many trauma survivors, especially people with a substance use disorder, have endured relational trauma where there may not be words to create context for emotional flashbacks. This protocol can repair insecure attachment styles, reboot emotional circuitry, and begin to overhaul our nervous system so as to increase the window of tolerance. Adrienne has also been a client of the Early Childhood Trauma Protocol and Implicit Memory Protocol and understands from a visceral level what this feels like. She also trained with author Dolores Mosquera from Spain on the Progressive Protocol that allows her to stabilize and work with individuals with symptoms of structural dissociation. This training has added an invaluable tool to her toolbox, as it was previously thought that EMDR was not to be used with clients with dissociative symptoms until they were stable, however stabilization often seems mystical, but not with this approach.
Adrienne received many hours of psychodrama training through Mary Bellofatto, LMHC, NCC, CEDS, TEP and Cathy Nugent, LCPC, TEP, including training specific to couples work. In her first training, Adrienne had the privilege to be the protagonist in several dramas. From this experience, she gained insight into the parts of self that she had been repressing and began to question the larger footprint she wished to have on her community. This led to what became the blueprint of her private practice today, as well as a goal to write a book that would bring practical tools for healing implicit memories to the homes of trauma survivors in recovery. Adrienne believes deeply in the use of experiential approaches that allow clients and families to experience the change process viscerally from the roots of suffering.