My Approach to Helping
Are you depressed and anxious? Unsure why you feel this way and cannot understand why your life isn't where you want it? Feeling unsatisfied in your relationships and easily triggered by your partner and the people around you? You've survived so much and wonder why you can't thrive as you see others living their best life. You know deep down that you've struggled mightily through life. While others seem to swim, you tread water. You judge yourself harshly for this but can't see another way to live.
I work in a client-centered way to help you understand & cope with present-day stressors and get to the root of the issues and traumas that keep you feeling stuck or disconnected. I use validation, active listening, and intuition to ensure you feel seen, heard, and supported by someone who deeply cares. Trying to manage an issue that seems like no one understands can be a very lonely experience, and sometimes it takes an outside perspective to gain a felt sense of clarity. My goal is to quickly have you feeling like you aren’t alone as you heal & grow.
I practice virtual and in-person EMDR therapy, using a strengths-based approach to connect with you in a warm, conversational manner. Our work might also include or be influenced by attachment theory, DBT, and CBT. I offer hourly sessions in a safe and HIPAA-compliant setting where you’ll be free to explore what’s most important to you.
I believe in collaboration, curiosity, and questions. I believe in authenticity, validation, and boundaries. I believe in starting over, again and again. I believe in learning from life experiences. I believe people need to earn the right to hear your story. I believe people deserve love, belonging, security, and connection. I believe profound change is possible because I see it every day and have experienced it myself. I believe in the power of EMDR therapy and the healing it promotes. Some of my clients are Veterans who struggle with trauma, mood disorders, and transition issues. Some of my clients are civilians who experienced early childhood abuse and neglect. I have experience working with BIPOC clients, Veterans, and LGBTQ+ persons. I work with DID and dissociative disorders. I am a combat Veteran and a member of the LGBTQ community who studies and practices Buddhist philosophy. I teach and practice mindfulness and self-compassion, helping my clients develop these skills in a way that works for them.
More Info About My Practice
Goodworks Therapy & Coaching is a team of dedicated therapists, coaches, and healers who will take you where you want to go, collaborating with you to treat your mental health condition and meet your life goals. Located at the beautiful Hackmatack Retreat in Richmond, Illinois, the Goodworks office is a place of tranquility and peace that promises to enhance self-exploration and recovery. Goodworks and Hackmatack Retreat occasionally offers in-person or remote retreat experiences ranging from daylong meditation retreats to a yearly three-day writing workshop and retreat.
Importance of the Client-Therapist Alliance
One of the most important predictors of client success in therapy is the strength of the therapeutic relationship. Therapy is a weird profession in that we ask clients to divulge the most details of their lives with the hope that some of their suffering will be relieved. I believe people need to earn the right to hear your story, so the first several sessions are often about building rapport and establishing a good "back and forth" as you provide me with the details of your life in a way that does not overwhelm you. We have plenty of time to create the conditions for your recovery, so don't feel you must tell me everything at the expense of your well-being or internal sense of security. The details of your past serve a purpose, as they are the road map to transforming your pain and suffering. Every relationship I start with each client is a little different; just like plants need different conditions to thrive, so do human beings. I do not take a one size fits all approach. Rather, I listen closely to learn what you might need to thrive and feel more effective in your relationships, work, and meaningful activities. I wonder what thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are holding you back? I know there's nothing wrong with you, only learning that occurred after people, places, things, and situations happened to you, overwhelming your ability to cope, respond effectively, or set boundaries. I believe in self-determination. Things aren't an issue unless you say so. I don't cast moral judgments or condemn people for their beliefs or proclivities. You are the expert on yourself, and we will figure this out together. If you have struggled in your relationships, the therapeutic relationship can offer the chance to heal the parts of yourself that react with fear, shame, and anger toward others by learning about yourself in a secure and non-judgmental space. I look forward to meeting you in session!
My View on the Nature of 'Disorders'
The American Psychological Association defines disorder as "a group of symptoms involving abnormal behaviors or physiological conditions, persistent or intense distress, or a disruption of physiological functioning. People are more than their "disorder" or any label placed on them. Hearing the word disorder conjures up different thoughts, feelings, and beliefs - most of them negative due to the cultural meaning the word has. When someone is labeled as having a disorder, that immediately sets them apart from others. What is wrong with them, we might ask? And it is them, not us. A disorder can't happen to us, can it? The odds are that it might. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in fact, about 1 in 5 adults were treated for a mental health disorder in 2020, and about the same amount of people will experience a mental health disorder throughout their lifetimes. This does not account for all of the people who suffer in silence. When a person experiences a heart attack, they immediately seek medical care, or they might die. Many, many people walk around experiencing the mental health equivalent of a heart attack every day without seeking help, when help is readily available. Can you think of some people in your life who suffers in silence? How do they impact others?
And why do they not seek help? Being labeled as having a disorder can sound like a prison sentence, a lifetime of being different, othered, shamed, and apart from the pack. And humans, as interdependent social animals, need each other. We are wired to survive and procreate, and being cast out of the pack, either physically or psychologically, is devastating and avoided at all costs. Seeking treatment, for some, comes with a heavy price, often due to beliefs about mental health passed down in their childhood family or from life experiences.
The stigma of having a mental health "disorder" differs from culture to culture. In some cultures, psychosis, a hallmark of schizophrenia characterized by a disconnection from reality, is seen as spiritual. The people who experience psychosis in these cultures are viewed as Shamans with extra-sensory perceptions. Their "disorder" is celebrated, and they are none the worse for their neurodiversity. Why don't we celebrate neurodiversity in America? Wouldn't it be boring if everyone was the same?
Many disorders are an adaptation to threatening and traumatic environments. Humans change and adapt to their life circumstances as a survival technique. When someone grows up in a stressful household, for example, their nervous system adapts to those people, places, and situations. Kids are often powerless in their first relationships, which are with their primary caregivers or parents. If their parents are dangerous, abusive, neglectful, or terrifying, then they might be stuck in fight or flight, attuned to danger, and expecting the worst, mostly because the attention they receive is abusive and being on high alert might protect them. Someone raised in that environment, who successfully adapts, will be in survival mode all of the time, ready for the abuse to happen. And the mind will play the trauma in a mental loop, over and over, kind of like a built-in warning and detection system.
Growing up this way can impact what they expect and receive in relationships. Someone who grows up in that environment might be highly anxious, clingy in relationships, and terrified to be alone. Another person might shut down at the slightest sign of threat from their partner, retreating further inward and creating distance to feel safe inside. These people might come to therapy wondering, what is wrong with me? The correct question to ask instead is, what happened to me? This question gets you closer to the root cause of the disordered behavior in relationships, which is the attachment trauma, abandonment, neglect, or abuse they endured.
This is just an example. There are countless others. Remember: Just because there is a stigma of having a disorder doesn't mean you have to be stigmatized. When we accept the stigma as real and true, then it becomes a self-stigma. We have a choice in how we see and experience ourselves. Looking at what happened to us can validate what we are thinking, feeling, and believing about ourselves and the world. If you need help learning how to validate your humanness or recover from a disorder, then reach out to a seasoned therapist to guide you on your journey.
May you be well, happy, and peaceful.