As an unashamed introvert and Highly Sensitive Person, I characterize myself as a therapist that emphasizes validation, gentleness, and compassion. I strive to blend the practical that help to improve your life day-by-day and the kind of change that only comes through bone-deep exploration of self.
I am a lifelong geek and have been known to interweave nerdy references into sessions. I'm a huge animal lover and share my life with two silly kitties and a golden retriever who one day will be a great therapy dog...after she works out some of her energetic puppy-ness.
My style can look very different depending on who is sitting across from me. I try to be flexible with my therapeutic approach to fit not only the problems you are coming in with, but also your personality and what approaches work for you. Some people do well with structure. Others prefer less structure. I am comfortable adapting to meet whatever needs come up in the room.
I see myself as a guide--you need to do the walking because no one else can do that for you. My role is to point out things you might be missing and let you know if you start heading backwards, instead of towards your goals.
I also highly value the therapeutic relationship. Research shows strongly that specific interventions only account for a fraction of positive change in therapy. The biggest factor in positive outcomes is the relationship between therapist and client. Because of that, I encourage open dialogue about our working relationship.
I integrate several different therapeutic lenses in my work. If you are interested in learning more specifically what those are, here is a list of approaches that I pull most commonly from.
Emotion Focused Therapy Often times, people end up in therapy because they are struggling with difficult emotions. EFT is an approach that changes your relationship with your emotions by promoting understanding of how your emotions can help you and teaching alternate ways of coping with difficult emotions.
Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy (DBT) One of the key goals of DBT is to "create a life worth living." DBT is highly effective for people who struggle with chronic thoughts of suicide, self-harm, and Borderline Personality Disorder. It is a structured approach that emphasizes emotional regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness. Many of the concepts and skills found within DBT can be very helpful and impactful for people with a wide variety of problems.
Psychodynamic Approaches Psychodynamic approaches underline the importance of how the past shapes us today. This can have an impact on patterns of behavior, relationships with others, and personality. Knowing and understanding these parts of ourselves can not only feel validating, but can empower us to move forward in our lives.
Trauma-Focused Therapy Trauma can have a significant impact on a person's well-being and relationships. Sometimes, a person is unaware that they have experienced any trauma. Often times people who have experienced trauma develop coping behaviors that may have helped them survive, but have been ultimately maladaptive in their life. Or, a person struggles with chronic problems such as depression and anxiety that doesn't seem to have a cause and continues to come back. As a trauma-focused therapist, I place importance not only on recognizing signs of potential trauma, but safety during treatment.
Approach to DIVERSITY
Everyone holds different identities that weave together to form a unique person. Beyond these normal unique differences that we all share, I believe in the importance of paying special attention to identities that have been historically marginalized or oppressed. My approach to therapy attempts to respect and empower those coming from the full range of racial identities, gender identities, class backgrounds, cultural & national backgrounds, able-bodiedness, and religious & spiritual identities.
Some individuals who hold marginalized identities may feel uncomfortable working with therapists who come from a privileged identity. This is valid, and you deserve to feel safe and empowered in therapy. Because of this, I want to be upfront about my own identities if you believe it may impact your ability to engage fully in therapy. I am a white, heterosexual, able-bodied, femme-presenting non-binary person.
As someone who comes from so many privileged identities, I find it tremendously important to continually strive for self-growth in unlearning oppressive behaviors and addressing oppressive systems in our society. I try to stay engaged with these concerns, particularly concerning racism, heterosexism & homophobia, and trans & gender identity issues.
EDUCATION & EXPERIENCE
I graduated with my Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Western Michigan University in 2017, my M.S. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Kansas in 2008, and my B.A. in Psychology from Southern Illinois University. Yes, that is a lot of school.
Throughout my time as a psychologist-in-training, I enjoyed working primarily with college students. I worked with a wide variety of concerns in these settings, from life adjustments and interpersonal concerns to personality disorders and serious mental illness. During my training, I also my time interning at a chronic pain outpatient clinic also had a lasting impact me. Because of the wonderful experiences there, I learned to be attuned to issues of chronic pain, chronic illness, and disability.
I also have a wealth of experience providing career counseling and assessment to individuals who need help deciding on a career path or college major.