My Approach to Helping
I believe in the power of feeling safe enough in a relationship to explore and discover one’s own feelings, challenges, and dreams. Research tells us that it’s the safe, trusting relationship we build with our therapist (over time) that promotes healing and growth (not the therapist’s skills or interventions). When we feel safe to share our deepest feelings, negative thoughts, and difficult experiences, I believe we can open ourselves up to revealing our purpose, direction, and clarity in life.
I offer clients a caring, nonjudgmental approach to therapy including authenticity and genuineness, excellent clinical skills, 16+ years of experience, humor and laughter (when appropriate), and gently confronting old, negative thoughts and patterns. I believe in walking alongside clients as they process and heal unresolved wounds, get clear on who they are and what they truly want, and become the healthy and best version of themselves! I enjoy empowering clients to face things they once believed they could not, grasp goals they used to think were unattainable, and reach their dreams in life!
I use many treatment modalities and tools to assist clients with this process as you will read below. My aim is to make sure you feel safe every step of the way. I am always learning in this field, acknowledge I don’t know everything, am always willing to do more research and find out more information for my clients, and complete continuing education to remain current on the best and most effective approaches in therapy.
With your permission, my goal is to get to the root of what is holding you back in your life and your relationships, process the thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations associated with the root cause, and empower you to discover and become the healthiest you! It can feel freeing when our old wounds no longer have the same power over us or our lives as they once did!
I’m currently working to get on insurance panels and hope to accept insurance soon. I provide “super bills” for clients to submit to their insurance companies for partial or full reimbursement. I accept cash, check, Visa and MasterCard.
If you would like to know more about me, how I work, or my specialties please check out my post in Psychology Today. Thanks and I hope to hear from you very soon!
Specific Issue(s) I'm Skilled at Helping With
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Victims of crime (including but not limited to sexual abuse or rape)
Victims of Domestic Violence & their children
Parenting & Step-Parenting
Children age birth through 5 & their caregivers
Pastors and Missionary Kids (all ages)
Ministers, Rabbi, & Clergy members & their families
First Responders and their families
Co-parenting with a difficult Ex
Victims of emotional, verbal, psychological, & sexual abuse
Victims of neglect
Setting healthy boundaries
Spirituality & Spiritual Development
Bereavement, Grief, and Loss
Recovering from Codependency
Family of Origin Issues
Blended and Step-Family issues
The Mental Game for Athletes
Therapists and their families
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
Understanding your child on the spectrum
Parenting a difficult teenager
My View on the Purpose of Psychotherapy
Plainly, to help people feel safe, earn their trust, provide space for them to really experience a wide range of emotions and not be alone with them, allow processing of unresolved pain and hurts, create new healthier patterns, attract healthy relationships, and promote clients leaving feeling clarity, increased stability, increased self-confidence, and self-love.
What I Love about Being a Psychotherapist
Connecting with people in a real, authentic way. Providing a safe place for clients to dump or vomit their feelings, process emotions and experiences, and face their fears. Assisting clients with making sense of their emotions and experiences. Watching clients heal and grow. Seeing clients confidence and motivation increase. Watching clients making healthy choices in their relationships, how they let others treat them, and get clear about who they are and what they want in life. Graduating clients from therapy because they know and believe they are worth good things, can do anything they put their mind to, and like themselves and their lives again!
My Role as a Therapist
Being in therapy is a completely different type of relationship than any other we will have in life. At first, it is very one-sided, where the client primarily shares about their life and experiences. My goal is that, as each session goes by, you will experience and feel from me that I truly care, want every good thing for you and your life, believe in your ability to reach your goals and attain your dreams, and that I?m in it for the long haul (if needed). You will not hear me talk much about myself or know as much about me as I will about you. That is to ensure that you get the most out of your time in therapy, to keep the professional boundaries of therapy crystal clear, to prevent me from making the session about me, to prevent you from feeling like you need to take care of me, and other awkward moments. Please note that therapy never involves dating, sex, or relationships outside of the therapy office. There are specific guidelines about these rules to protect clients and therapists alike in on the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners website at azbbhe.com.
My Therapy Focus
For some clients, my focus can be how our earliest wounds and the wounds that repeated throughout our lives impacted us then and can be continuing to impact us now. Then, healing those wounds, grieving any losses, and decreasing the power they have on the clients current life.
For trauma and abuse, the focus is to stabilize the client, identifying what makes them feel safe, encouraging them to increase their self-awareness of their own triggers, learn healthy ways to manage triggers, eventually process those traumas or abuse, connecting the timeline of the events with body sensations, thoughts, and feelings, and finally bringing closure, healing, and growth to those traumatic events.
For children and teens, my focus includes allowing them to share their thoughts and feelings freely, increase their understanding of how they impact the world around them, increase their awareness of their own needs and verbalizing to others how they feel and what they want, learning how to manage big and difficult feelings, learning how to identify safe adults to trust, and discovering what works best for the child or teen and their parents or caregivers (whether it?s household routine, what foods they eat at meals, their sleep schedule, setting limits and providing age-appropriate consequences, quality time with parents or caregivers, improving school performance, improving social skills, relating to and forming healthy relationships with siblings, chore charts or helping caregivers, and following the rules).
What I Usually Need to Know to Help
The very first time we meet will be a 55 minute appointment. I typically like to begin our first session with explaining confidentiality and it?s limits, reviewing the fee schedule, sharing a little about myself, and asking if you have questions for me.
From there, I will begin to ask you about your life story to attempt to get a basic summary of what is going on at this time. I ask what brought you in for therapy at this particular time in your life, what you previous experiences with therapy have been, and what you liked or didn?t like about your previous therapist or therapy experiences. Then we discuss your living arrangements, educational or vocational status, the quality of your family relationships, any past or present challenges with substances, alcohol, affairs, domestic violence, or interpersonal violence. I will ask for a summary of the traumatic events you have endured (not all the details until you feel safe and ready to disclose those details to me) as well as how you coped with them. I also inquire about developmental and social issues or challenges, your mental health history and the mental health of your family members, and if you have any chronic medical conditions you want me to know about. We will discuss any medications you are taking, your physical and sexual health (at your comfort level), your nutrition and exercise, and if you have any spiritual or religious beliefs (along with if you would like to incorporate those beliefs). At the end, I will ask about your friends and social supports, any legal issues or court involvement, if you have any thoughts of harming yourself or others. We conclude, most times, with what you feel your personal strengths and abilities are to end on a positive note. After that, we will discuss if you want to move forward with therapy, if you feel like I may be a fit for you as a therapist, potentially schedule the next appointment, and I will collect the session fee.
My Guiding Ethical Principles
As a licensed MFT in the state of Arizona, I am bound to the guiding ethical principles of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT), the International Association EMDR (EMDRIA), and the National Association of Infant Mental Health (NAIMH). I am also a state mandated reporter of child abuse and neglect. Each of these has their own website you are invited to look through if you want to learn more about my guiding ethical principles.
How My Own Struggles Made Me a Better Therapist
Many people ask me what made me want to become a therapist. What I am supposed to say is I think people are fascinating and I have always wanted to help people. Those things are true... But the main reason I became a therapist is because I needed to make sense of my own pain. Perhaps like you, there have been many seasons in my life that were extremely difficult. And I do not think those challenging times are completely over. I did nott start my own therapy until my sophomore year in college and over time, it changed my life. Not all therapists have attended their own therapy because it is not required in Arizona to become a therapist. In my opinion, I can not lead clients farther than I myself have gone (in my own personal therapy work), so I am committed to continuing my own therapy so I will not hinder any clients progress because of my own stuff. I am always looking inside, reflecting, and developing insight around how I can improve, be more authentically me, and be the very best therapist each client deserves. I know that I will never go through every single challenge that my clients have, but I believe that all of us can tell when someone understands pain. I do. I am not afraid of pain, darkness, or trudging through in the mud any longer because of my own struggles. I have been on the other side of the couch as a client who has mistrusted everyone, wrestled with what my therapist said, denied the thoughts and feelings I was having, fought against what my therapist shared, dug my heels in when I was angry, threw myself pity parties, and blamed others. I went through the beautiful, painful, opening process to be willing to trust another, be willing to look at myself, willing to own my thoughts and feelings, willing to grieve and feel, willing to discuss the most painful things I have gone through, and I know first-hand the experience of healing and growth that comes from reaching the other side. So, wherever your story takes us, I am ready. I will fearlessly walk alongside you in your journey encouraging you to borrow my courage until you have it to give yourself and empowering you keep going one step at a time.
The Duration and Frequency of Therapy
Therapy is a commitment of time and energy. Most often, attending therapy on a consistent basis (whether that is weekly or every-other-week) yields the best outcomes. When there are breaks in treatment, inconsistency in scheduling or attendance, or a lack of willingness to engage in the process, progress can be slowed or even halted. When clients are committed to the process of therapy and healing, attend therapy on a regular and consistent basis, therapy goals are reached more quickly and swift healing is made possible. Therapy is well worth the time and energy it requires for the many benefits including (but not limited to) having a confidential place to vent and be truly heard, access to a nonjudgmental and objective professional to bounce ideas off of, improved sleep, improved focus at work or school, improved relationships, feelings safely emotionally connected to your intimate partner, feeling good about yourself, letting go of past hurts, feeling free from the power that old wounds had over your life, and feeling unconditionally accepted, cared about, and held in mind.