“People have a deep need to be seen, known, and understood...”
I deeply believe that people have a natural tendency toward growth and wholeness, and that therapy is one of the many ways people can actively move toward these natural tendencies. At the heart of growth through therapy is being in a relationship with another person, and if the right conditions in that relationship are created, growth and change will occur. I also believe that growth can be painful, uncomfortable, and involve suffering. While therapy is often started because of challenges in life and discomfort, I believe that growth occurs through, and then beyond, suffering.
While every person is a unique, complex individual with a distinct personality and life experiences, some commonalities I have seen as a person grows and changes are:
- Increased awareness and ability to recognize, tolerate, accept, and express emotions, both in their body and through language
- Increased ability to integrate feelings, thoughts, and intuitions to make decisions, both large and small
- The ability to create and maintain fulfilling relationships
- Clarity around personal values and how to move toward a meaningful life
The attitude I try to cultivate toward the people I work with is one of openness, warmth, acceptance, and curiosity, in the hopes of effecting an open, curious, reflective, and accepting attitude in you toward your own experience. I think a deep need of people is to be seen, known, and understood, which can only occur in relationships with others. The increased understanding of how relationships change our physical and biological makeup as more is learned about interpersonal neurobiology informs how I work.
The therapy I facilitate is an exploration of the different parts of you, so that they can be known, felt, accepted, and integrated into a fuller and more whole experience. This process often starts with developing both awareness and expression of your moment-to-moment experience, personal and relationship history, and family and cultural expectations you have experienced. I believe increasing awareness occurs at multiple levels- of our bodies, emotions, thoughts, patterned behaviors, and relationships, to name a few. I use a variety of methods to increase awareness: through narrative language and metaphors, mindfulness exercises, images that arise through creative expression or dreams, somatic exercises, identifying values, and using the experience of both of us in our therapeutic relationship.
I believe that awareness is often a prerequisite, but not sufficient, for change and that new and different embodied experiences create and sustain change. In session, this often takes on an emotional focus, in which emotions as experienced through different parts of self can be activated and utilized to create new, complete emotional experiences.
I have participated in classes, workshops, and trainings in Emotionally Focused Therapy, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Jungian Psychology, Process Work, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Mentalization Based Therapy, Ecopsychology, and Somatic Psychotherapy, in addition to having experience in a variety of mindfulness practices. I was educated at a graduate school that embraced and taught the utilization of critical theory to work toward social justice.
My foundational experience in the field of mental health was working on a therapeutic farm in rural Vermont. I have had additional opportunities to work in community settings, including for a transitional housing shelter, a community-based forensic psychology program, and a therapeutic community that is primarily informed by Buddhist psychology. I have also provided individual and group therapy for a community mental health agency. A long-term topic of interest to me is the interplay between the individual and wider social systems, including and especially families and culture. I regularly contemplate to what degree individuals are identified as having “problems” in social, cultural, and economic systems that often are not conducive to individual, community, nor environmental health. Prior to working in the field of mental health, I worked as an attorney before making a career change.
I have a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan (2000), a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School (2005), and a M.A. in Professional Mental Health Counseling from Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling (2015).
I typically like to meet clients where they are in a session and go with the natural direction, which is based on my belief that therapy is a non-linear process. My style of therapy has a variety of influences, which reflects my own variety of interests. One of the many reasons that I work as a therapist is that it involves a continual process and commitment to growth and learning, which I view as mutual process we will engage in together.