"I trust in the strength of the person who comes to see me"
Entering counseling can be tough. It often requires a person to know or sense that something needs adjusting, or that a shift needs to happen. Sometimes, life is just difficult and support is needed. As a counselor, I trust in the strengths of the person who comes to see me. Deciding to travel the road of change IS a strength, and counseling can often be helpful in this process.
My approach is collaborative and interactive. I will partner with you to focus on what you decide to address in our time together. I originally came from a cognitive framework, using Transactional Analysis and Feminist therapies. I eventually integrated ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and mindfulness-based approaches into my work. In addressing addictions, I have utilized both harm-reduction and abstinence-based models using motivational interviewing and Mindfulness-Based-Relapse Prevention. Pragmatic and inquisitive, I believe that every person responds differently, and it is my job to integrate approaches tailored to meet the needs of each client. To do this, I stay updated on evidence-based strategies by reading and attending conferences and workshops.
I have advanced training and experience in working with youth and children, people living with mental illness, adoptive and foster families, LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming folks, veterans living with PTSD, trauma and disaster survivors, people living with substance use disorders and process addictions, individuals adjusting to disability and chronic illness, international students dealing with adjustment and cultural challenges and adults in mid-career transitions.
Having been in the helping field since 1980, my experiences have included working in both inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities, crisis intervention, early intervention and prevention, volunteering with the Red Cross Disaster Mental Health team since early 2000, providing career and personal counseling in community colleges and teaching in master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s level programs in the areas of addictions, parenting and mental health. I managed programs in mental health in both traditional services and in an agency whose goal was to serve the LGBTQ communities. Inpatient and outpatient substance use programs jail-based interventions, coordinating and running a non-12 step men’s outpatient program that integrated mindfulness and behavioral perspectives and volunteering as a board member of Ingersoll Gender Center were also essential facets of my experience.
My credentials and licenses include licensure as a mental health counselor (LMHC # LH00004470) and certification as a chemical dependency professional (CDP # CP60235891), Myers-Briggs provider certification, Child Mental Health Specialist and Sexual Minority Mental Health Specialist certifications as well as certification as a Master Addiction Counselor.
Creating an alliance with each person with whom I work is essential to how I provide service. I believe that change is possible and shifts in our experiences occur in ways that help us to live each moment more fully.
The relationship we build in our work together provides the cornerstone of counseling. I bring my skills into our work and partner with you to delve into the shifts you want to see within your life. I will interact clearly and gently to bring about change, if you decide it is needed and desired. We can also work to bring about acceptance of the challenges that create difficulty. I share my knowledge, my humor and caring in our sessions. As I see you as the expert on your life, I will ask you what works and what does not work for you so that we can, together, address what you want.
Identification of values is a core part of our work. When under stress, it is easy to lose sight of the values we hold dear. Reconnecting and clarifying these values can help determine the steps to take in counseling. From there, we will work together, using this awareness to identify the changes that you want to make. ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) is based on values, mindfulness and committed action. Using an ACT framework, I also employ homework, connection and feedback within my approach to counseling.
I listen. From there, I will share my thoughts with you. I remain engaged throughout our time together, listening to what you bring in to the session. I will check in with you to see if there are particular things you want to address. If you have said you will do some type of homework, then we will talk about it together. If the homework has not been completed, we will use that as information, together sharing curiosity as to what got in the way. Perhaps it was not the right homework, maybe the steps were too big, maybe your realized that it felt too hard, too painful to take the step. We look together at what the dynamics are, and then we modify from there. I believe that people change through encouragement and success, and we will partner in finding out what will help you to be successful.
When seeing couples, my goal is to get to know both of the members of the family, finding out what initially brought the couple together and what might now be creating a point where there is not commonality. As we sit together, I listen for the strengths the couple has, what challenges they currently face and how each member of the couple experiences their life in the here and now. I work toward helping each member of the couple have increased commitment to the relationship, and see that coming in to ask for support for the relationship reflects courage to address the challenges the couple faces. When working with a couple who is part of the GLBTQ+ community, addressing issues that may be magnified due to this status is also a part of my approach.
Within our sessions, we will set expectations for the sessions as well as establish boundaries for in-between sessions. This can provide some relative safety for each individual as members of the couple work to develop new ways of relating. I also look for strengths that the couple has. When there is discord, it is sometimes difficult to see or to remember what these strengths are.
Gender Transition in Established Couples
Differing Sexual Desire