Who I Am
I became a therapist because one day, I suddenly, dramatically, unbearably needed a therapist. And she was there.
I suffered a sudden, major life trauma at age 30.
My heart was broken wide open.
Day after day, week after unbearable week, I numbly crawled through an interminable period of sorrow, anger, and shattering pain.
I would collapse into a trembling heap in my therapist’s overstuffed chair, sobbing inconsolably into countless tissues and screaming rage at the universe until my therapist turned up the volume on her waiting room music for my privacy. That actually happened.
In short, I’ve been the one who walked through the darkness with a guide and helper who never turned away. In the process, I rebuilt my shattered world in a more spacious and deep way than I had ever conceived of before.
Going all the way through that trauma with help led me to embrace the privilege of becoming a therapist myself. Because the darkness taught me some very important things. Going through darkness and coming out changed taught me wisdom, acceptance, and compassion. And I wanted to pay those hard-won qualities forward to my own clients.
Now I’m the one who provides the metaphorical lap for my clients to fall into, who receives the wadded up tissues, and bears the screaming rage. I’m the one who holds people who experience pain with mute numbness, with hesitant choked-back tears, or by trying to get back to normal as quickly as possible.
From both sides of the therapy room, I have learned something profound: The most important thing for anyone going through a loss, a trauma, a change, or a transition is that:
the key to rebuilding is to have the support of at least one important person who can simply be there with you, unflinching and solid.
I will be there while you tell your story. Be there while you yell. Be there while you cry. Be there while you sit in painful silence, wishing you could fall apart. Be there while you do fall apart—and then put back together the shards. One piece at a time. Gently, and in a way that makes you feel understood. Seen. Heard. Cared for. I’m like a midwife for change, healing, and growth.
I’ll keep the process open and respectful, too—I’ll tell you why I’m asking you the questions I am, and I’ll help you understand how healing actually occurs. I believe in this work so much that I’m kind of a geek about it. I study and teach it to other therapists all the time, so I’m always deepening my understanding about what helps and why. And you get the benefit of all that geekiness.
And everything—everything—will feel warm, supportive, and welcoming, even when it’s challenging. Even better? You’ll know that we’re working together on the cutting edge of neuroscience—in a place where therapy isn’t just about talking, but is about growing. Transforming. It’s in that respect that I absolutely love my work—I’m energized and enlivened by the experience of helping others like you…feel safe, understood, and cared about.
Forget everyone’s expectations of what your feelings should look like.
I specialize in helping you know what to do with pain, growth, and change by facilitating your unique way through. I’m an experienced, nationally recognized therapist who also teaches and trains internationally.
Because none of the ways of doing therapy that already existed captured the vividness and depth that I knew from my own experience and my own work with clients, I blended the best of what I had studied and experienced into a powerful way of working and teaching therapists, a way of working that I named DEEP.
DEEP (Dynamic Enriched Experiential Psychotherapy) emerged at the intersection of my own life and professional experience, and my work with leading edge attachment-based experiential therapies, interpersonal neurobiology, humanistic therapy, body-based therapies, and depth psychology. Current research in interpersonal neurobiology stresses that change and healing happen when you share a new, embodied emotional experience with someone who sees and understands the good in you. (I know. That sounds intimidating. But I promise you—it’s one of the most effective forms of healing available.)
And even though none of the theories I’ve studied fully capture on their own the power of the therapy I like to offer, each of these cutting-edge theories are very important aspects of my work. I’m passionate about learning everything I can to enrich my work with you, so I immerse myself in ongoing, in-depth, post-graduate training in the most effective and up-to-date ways of doing therapy. Among the many post-graduate courses I’ve taken, these three feed into DEEP in profound ways:
- Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP). It’s a way of doing therapy that’s rooted in attachment theory, neurobiology, emotion theory, and developmental studies. AEDP focuses on helping people to heal and grow, rather than on labeling what is sick or broken. The work is based on creating new experiences in the room (rather than just talking about stuff), within the context of a warm and engaged therapeutic relationship, explicitly helping with emotions, and focusing on the innate human drive to thrive, heal, and grow. I studied with the AEDP Institute’s founder, Diana Fosha, PhD, for more than five years, and in 2007 I became the third person in the world to be certified in AEDP. And I was invited to serve as a faculty member for the national AEDP Institute in 2008, which I chose to do for 3 years.
- Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. It’s a way of doing therapy, developed by Pat Ogden, PhD, that integrates talk therapy with body-centered ways of working in the treatment of trauma, attachment, and developmental issues, incorporating psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, neuroscience, and theories of attachment and dissociation. I completed Level 1 of SP training in 2009.
- Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy. It’s a relational and movement-oriented psychotherapy within a contemporary gestalt therapy framework, developed by Ruella Frank, PhD. Inspired by the work of developmental psychologists, motor theorists, and somatic educators, DSP helps me to understand and work with childhood blocks as they emerge in present physical moments of adult therapy sessions. Attending to movement patterns within therapy is particularly powerful when guided by current developmental thinking. After completing an intensive two-year training course, I received a certificate in DSP in 2013.
A few other things you should know about my expertise, and how I can help you:
- I hold an M.A. in Counseling Psychology, with an emphasis in Depth Psychology, from Pacifica Graduate Institute, Carpinteria, California. (Depth psychology is non-pathologizing and strength-affirming. It works with the rich unconscious and transpersonal aspects of human experience.) To earn this degree, I flew to California from Austin, Texas once every month for three years, because I knew that the expense and hassle of all the travel was worth it in exchange for receiving an exceptional education that centered around healing, depth, and growth.
- I wrote my master’s thesis, Shimmering in the Darkness: Bearing Witness to Inconsolable Suffering, about the growth and transformation that can occur when we can help people’s grief to take its natural yet anguishing course, and how necessary it is for us to offer grievers unflinching support and help in order for them to bear the painful feelings of mourning. I continue to write articles about grief, and I’m working on a book.
- I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and also a supervisor for LPC Interns (LPC-S), officially approved by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors, license #18127.
- I’ve trained and worked with Hospice Austin, supporting dying patients and their families, and bereaved family members with home visits and phone support.
- I earned a certificate in spiritual formation from the Seton Cove, an interfaith spirituality center. This certificate program teaches the integration of spiritual and emotional growth, various spiritual disciplines that support seeing through illusions and assumptions about life and that encourage an authentic life, and exploration of the idea that the inward life leads back to community. The content of this certificate supports my view that psychological and spiritual health are intertwined, and informs me in working with a wide range of spiritual perspectives and issues.
Every single day, I’m humbled, honored and profoundly moved by each person’s travels through pain and change, and the growth that happens as a result.
More important than my credentials, however, is the fact that I know this to be true: What we humans really need is the presence of other humans.
Other humans with whom to traverse this crazy, haphazard, rocky life.
Because sometimes when you walk side-by-side with another person through it all, the best part?
…is the comfort of their company.
All along the way.
When we have for so long been judged by everyone we meet, just to look into the eyes of another who does not judge us can be extraordinarily healing. — Jack Kornfield