What I Do

Hardship doesn’t have to mean hard.
And lonely doesn’t have to mean alone.

Because I believe this with my whole heart, I’m here to help you with your pain, your joy, your concerns, your changes—anything you’re wrestling with. (I’m especially good at working with: Grief, Life Transition, Trauma, Therapy for Therapists, Therapy for Highly Sensitive / Intuitive People.)

We need one another.

Think that’s just some therapist feel good talk?

I promise you, it’s not.

Because this bewitchingly beautiful, crazy, messy, erratic, unpredictable, volatile, capricious thing called life, in all its glory, can also mean excruciating, soul-shattering PAIN. (Or even deadened, unfulfilled numbness.)

:: That moment when you got the call…
…and all you could do was scream blind rage while the tears engulfed other layers of tears, and you didn’t even rock back and forth like they do in the movies because you were so stunned with shock, dread, and anger that all you could do was stay there, unblinking, for hours on end, muzzled by the distinct feeling of being entirely out of control… of everything.

:: Years may have passed…
…rendering you into a state of numb nothingness—one where time stops ticking, and so does your enthusiasm, lust and earnestness for living. Maybe you have trouble coping with the daily stresses and strains of living even though you’re getting by. Maybe you have difficulty managing your emotions. (Random flashes of anger, fear, or shame sound familiar?) Maybe you have glitches in memory, or even in the way you act around other people. The pain you experienced—whether loss, trauma, or something else, like a big change that’s been tough to handle—has worn you down, physically, mentally, emotionally—until you feel like a hollow shell of who you know you could be.

:: This phase you’re going through—happy or sad—where everything feels upended…
…including your life, your plans, your dreams, and your future—and, instead, has left you whirling with self-doubt. Maybe you’re getting married or divorced, having a baby, trying to find a fulfilling career, facing an empty nest, or retiring. Or maybe you’re going through something more abstract—like seeking purpose, fulfilling potential, exploring a calling, or changing spiritually.

In so many ways, change changes you.

And change—good or bad—is rarely easy.

It changes your feelings. It changes your perspectives. And it changes the way you interact with the world. Forever.

And I’m here to help that change become one that actually benefits you.

Because right now, you’re certainly surviving. But not necessarily thriving. And you deserve your time in the sun.

Maybe you’re working yourself to the bone, never sitting still. Or maybe it’s just the opposite, and you’re having a hard time getting going at all. Perhaps you’re plagued by an underlying sense of dissatisfaction or restlessness or longing for more, even though things in life are going “well.”

Maybe you feel like you should “be over it.” Maybe you’ve been told so, too. Maybe you feel like you just need to suck it up, move on, and accept things the way they are. So you’ve been putting on the “I’m great, thanks!” face. (You know the one. And it’s wearing thin.)

But no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you pretend, you still feel sort of like a fraud. Alone. Isolated. Misunderstood. Lonely. And still with so much (damn) hurt, even if it’s neatly buried way beneath the surface.

But you haven’t been able to do anything about it. You’ve always been so strong. So self-reliant. Independent. Competent. These feelings you’re having—they make you feel like a weakling. Like a crybaby. Overwhelmed. Or maybe even pathetic.

And you can’t stand to have the world see that side of you… Maybe you even hide it from yourself.

But you need to know a few truths—things I believe in with all my heart. Things that I want for you. Things that I know will help. Things I can help you to trust in.

Therapy isn’t wrong. It’s a right. Your right.

To stop feeling so alone with your suffering and your big feelings. To work through the unnamed or unknown confusion that seems overwhelming. To bear the uneasiness of uncertainty. To understand and heal from your traumatic traumas. To handle those life changing changes. To grieve for real—without the stereotypes or “shoulds.” And to learn, heal, and grow from every single challenging moment in life.

I specialize in helping those who’ve wandered down any path of challenge, difficulty, or despair. That might look a little something like this:

— Grief and Loss —

You’ve lost someone. You’ve experienced a loss. Now you’re left to pick up the pieces. And they’re sharp.

This is where the rubber meets the road, because we all lose people we love—but we aren’t born knowing how to handle it. As you know, life doesn’t come with a guide, and neither does death. Yet in our culture, we’re often left quite alone to grieve. We’re expected to “be strong” and “get over” loss and grief quickly, (or at the very least, do it in a prescribed, one-size-fits-all way). But mourning is actually an interpersonal process that requires time, validation, support, and permission. And even though those sound like “therapist words,” I promise you—being met in the dark, and then completely understood? Makes all the difference.

I have lots of jagged experience with living through my own intensive grief, and with helping my clients make it through their grief. I know a lot about living through the numbness of shock, being unable to believe that the loss has occurred, crazy-looking intense feelings that sometimes seem out of control, not wanting to grow and change without your loved one, the slow rebuilding of a new kind of life, ultimately finding healing.

When you’re suffering like this, it’s tempting to want to be alone. To shut out all those people who don’t get it. To stay home, slam the curtains closed, watch reruns of The Price is Right, and let your eyes glaze over with sorrow. Or on the other hand, to run as fast as you can back to “normal,” trying to outpace the pain.

Either way, when we’re left alone to grieve, we often cut off our feelings because they’re simply too frightening to face by ourselves. Or we feel like we’re drowning in crazy big feelings. And that’s where therapy really comes in—because when we receive support and care from someone who can help us face the suffering that can seem so overwhelming, a natural healing process occurs. And together, we’ll come out on the other side. Because while it might seem impossible to imagine now, I can help you make your way into feeling okay again. Different. But okay. And as a byproduct, you may even grow into richer and more meaningful relationships, and a vastly increased appreciation for the moments of life.

I know grief’s territory well, and I’m particularly good at walking with people through this kind of darkness. Whatever your mourning is like, I can be with you as you go through it so that you don’t have to bear the painful feelings alone.

And remember, grief can also be triggered by other kinds of loss, such as divorce, a move, loss of health through serious illness or pain, loss of a beloved pet, etc., so don’t feel that your loss isn’t important enough or significant enough to warrant attention and necessary help.

All loss is loss. And all loss hurts. But that doesn’t mean you have to lose yourself in the process. I’m here to help you.

— Life Transition —

You’re feeling up in the air—with everything.

You’re going through a change. A transition, an event, a stage in life, or a different direction that has you challenged, disoriented, anxious. In order to find your new self, you’ve got to leave your old self behind. And that can feel downright impossible to navigate.

Your transition might be a concrete one—like getting married or divorced, having a baby, trying to find a fulfilling career, facing an empty nest, moving to a new city, or retiring. You might be going through something a little less clear—like seeking purpose, exploring a calling, or changing spiritually. Either way, you’re dealing with a little chaos. Okay, a LOT of chaos. Everything feels uncertain. You thought you’d have things figured out by now—but you don’t. And you’re wondering if you ever will.

Many times we leave an old self behind before we know what’s happening, or before we know who our new self will be. This period of transition—the unknown time between selves—can feel awful. Messy. Complicated. Frustrating. Difficult. Interminable.

I can help you chart a path through the chaos.

My unique combination of experience with grief work and spiritual issues gives me particular knowledge for navigating these unknown waters. I’m skilled at helping you bear the feelings that come up during the time when the old self is gone and the new self hasn’t yet materialized, and at helping you discern what your heart tells you about the step that might come next on your journey through not-knowing into knowing.

Together, we’ll explore unfolding options and help you make your way into something that feels comfortable—something that feels more right than ever before. I’ll help you with the grief you’re likely experiencing for leaving your old self behind, the fear of the unknown (she rears her ugly head on all of us), your hopes and longings for the future, and learning to hear and trust what your heart knows about where you’re headed, so that you can have the courage to move in unfamiliar directions—stepping out into life with trust, and maybe even hope.

— Trauma —

You’ve been to your personal hell and back. You’re suffering in a way that’s insufferable. You feel like you’re in the wake of a catastrophe. And now you’re left wondering if you’ll ever be back to “normal.” Or maybe you’re not even sure what normal is—you know just something feels OFF.

Trauma. It brings to mind images of ambulances and the ER; doctors and green scrubs. But trauma can be any event or circumstance that’s happened to you that makes you feel less safe in the world—and less sure of your own capabilities of dealing with the world as a whole. Trauma is a set of lasting and painful physical, social, emotional, or spiritual effects that might be the result of a single event, or perhaps a recurring set of circumstances that, frankly, just feel overwhelming.

Maybe it happened when you were a kid. Maybe it happened as an adult. Maybe it happened yesterday. Maybe it’s still happening. Or maybe you haven’t yet even recognized a connection between something that happened and how you feel.

All you know is… you’re hurting.

Maybe you’re having trouble dealing with daily life, even if you’re functioning well. Maybe you’re lashing out. Feeling isolated. Maybe you’re feeling too much…, or too little. You might be lacking empathy for the folks you live with. Feeling overwhelmed. Exhausted. Perhaps your memory’s shot, and your behavior’s been a little erratic. You might be running too fast, doing everything, but not actually living. Or you might feel depressed or paralyzed into not being able to get motivated. Or maybe you just don’t have the drive you think you should.

So what do you do when you’re feeling this way? When you’ve suffered something that feels traumatic to you?

You may feel like all this pain is permanent. Just the way life is. A dead end. But I know that doesn’t have to be true.

From my own life experience and from all the people I’ve helped through trauma, I know that healing in life can sprout up through the cracks even in the worst of times. But guess what? It’s almost impossible to heal from trauma by yourself. You need to have someone there by your side to offer caring support, education about what you’re going through, and help with the intense emotions that go with loss and traumatic experiences. And that’s what I’m here for.

I know how to help you understand and manage your feelings, and get back to a way of living that you can make sense of and enjoy. Without pretending like nothing happened to you. Yet without making what happened to you be all there is to you.

With real help and validation?

You can end up stronger in the end.

— Therapy for Therapists —

You’re a therapist who’s seeking therapy.

While you might know the steps and tools that can put you on the path to a rich life, you also need a sounding board.

An unbiased third party.

Someone who understands the courage it takes to ask for help—when you consider yourself the one who typically does the helping.

Have you ever heard the saying, “No one is an island?” Well, therapists aren’t the exception. And whatever tough life stuff you’re currently facing, you can find solace in the fact that I will listen—completely and wholeheartedly—all while giving you the utmost respect you deserve.

You are not less of a therapist because you’re seeking therapy.

In fact, did you know that interpersonal neurobiology shows that therapists who are the most effective are the ones who understand and have made meaning of their own internal worlds? That the best way to practice the understanding and empathy we need as therapists is to be able to feel and appreciate our own emotions?

(I believe this so strongly that I’ve been in my own therapy of some sort for more than a quarter of a century. It makes me better at my job! And at my life! I know therapy works. I think we may be on to something…)

I believe with my whole heart that people who are willing to go to therapy to explore their own inner landscapes make the best therapists. I will receive you and your vulnerability with care and nonjudgmental acceptance. I’ll probably even send you referrals (if you want them) because I respect you so much for doing your own work.

Together, we’ll navigate your feelings. Doing your own work helps you grow. And it honors our profession…

— Highly Sensitive / Intuitive People —

You feel like the shy, sensitive one. Quiet. Socially anxious. About making phone calls. Going to parties. Standing up for yourself. Projecting confidence (or even feeling like you don’t have any). And while you don’t want to change who you are, you want to participate and play in the extreme beauty that the world has to offer, without misplacing your sense of self.

Believe me. I understand.

One of my biggest expert soft spots involves working with people who are shy, quiet, socially anxious, “highly sensitive” people. Why?

Because I’m a highly sensitive person myself.

I grew up shy. Afraid to speak my mind. Afraid to speak to anyone sometimes. Needing time to watch before I’d leap in to the fray (if I leapt at all).

People have a hard time believing that about me now. I’ve done a lot of work on myself over the decades. When I was a teenager, I practiced self-esteem affirmations with a friend, and exercised sheer force of will. In young adulthood I went to therapy, and that started me on the path to expansion. And later I lost everything, and therapy pasted me back together as my fullest self—helping me to sort out what really mattered in life. By receiving help and care, I found my way to a place of deep confidence that includes an appreciation for the strengths inherent in my sensitivity. My confidence comes from discovering and valuing the real me. The deep, intuitive, tender, soulful me. And from learning that the real me can bear to shine. (And sometimes even enjoy it!)

I can help you find that quiet (or even sparkly!) confidence in yourself. Because I recognize the tender beauty that’s inherent in you, and reflected in your sensitivity. And I appreciate how hard it might be for you to open up. I’m kind. And patient. I’ll never demand that you come forward. Instead I’ll invite you to emerge.

I’ll help you to discern your unique pace. And at that pace, I’ll walk beside you while you learn that it’s okay to shine, in your own soft and beautiful way.

Grief, life transition, trauma, tenderness—
Whatever brings you to see me…

Here, you are safe.
Here, you are welcome.
Here you can be more yourself.

More open.

More loving.

More resilient.

More courageous.

More tenacious.

Because emotions don’t have to close you down and make you hide.

When you’ve got the support you need, they can bring you alive.

It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant wake into life and form the character.         ― Abigail Adams