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My background, approach, and style as a therapist
A little on my background
I grew up in Austin, Tx, where I loved hanging out in the greenbelt or at the lake. I can't say I miss the humidity though. My father was a psychologist and he was actually the one who suggested I go into counseling. My mother worked in special education. I have a large family with two half-sisters, one sister, and three brothers.
I struggled a lot with anxiety as a child and into early adulthood. I've experienced multiple major depressive episodes in my life. I've struggled with substance abuse. I've suffered through tumultuous, unhealthy relationships. As I get further along in my own healing journey, I've come to understand that I survived a significant amount of childhood trauma. I love my parents but they still made some big mistakes.
My path to recovery largely started when I was exposed to mindfulness and a deeper understanding of how our perception determines our reality. I started a holistic approach to wellness including exercise, healthy eating, openness to intimacy and vulnerability, adaptability, and finding purpose and meaning.
I was drawn to CBT and DBT because they are so in line with what I was already doing that worked for me. I had a similar experience with Gottman Couples Therapy and decided to pursue it because healthy relationships are fundamental to individual wellness. I also believe in science and prefer evidence-based practices and skills.
From My Blog
I moved to Denver in January of 2007 and came to like it so much that I decided to stay, perhaps even for the rest of my life. I started practicing clinically in 2014 during my internship and completed my master's degree in clinical mental health counseling in 2015. A few years later I decided to get licensed as an addictions counselor as well.
I find deep fullfilment in helping others and I have a long history of working in human services:
Provided recreational therapy in a nursing home
Provided supportive living services out in the community to people living with disabilities
Interned at The Mental Health Center of Denver
Worked as a service coordinator for Volunteers of America
Provided housing and case management at Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
Worked in several programs with people of a wide variety of backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses at a local agency including a women's treatment program and a comprehensive LGBTQ+ program
I opened my private practice in September of 2019 and couldn't be happier with that decision.
Here are some of the advanced trainings I have completed:
Gottman Method Couples Therapy Level 3
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Three Day Intensive Certification Course
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Four Day Intensive Certification Course
How To Clinically Support Your Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Clients
How the Body Keeps the Score- Intensive Trauma Treatment Course
My way of doing therapy
You can basically break down talk therapy into two main approaches: the old-school approach and the newer skills building approach. The old-school approach typically means the therapist asks a few questions, makes a few reflections, and maybe offers some insights and suggestions as well as some cheerleading.
This approach is great for some, but many others who have experienced it say they now understand the problem really well but don't know what to do about it. It was helpful at first but then turned into them talking about how their week went and being told they're doing great and that they should journal. Progress slows way down and they start to feel stuck again.
Processing things out loud with a trained professional is very important and will always have its place. But therapy has come a long way since the 60's and now we have a lot more research on what really helps people move forward and recover more quickly. I help my clients learn new skills that have been proven to help a good majority of people.
What do individual sessions look like?
The first 1-2 sessions are the initial assessment in which I gather lots of information to better understand you as a unique individual including what brings you into therapy. Then I create a treatment plan with you to have a clear reference for your goals and how we'll track your progress towards them. This provides a solid foundation and something we can refer back to when you're not sure what to focus on next. We will then look back at the treatment plan to see how it's been going about every six months.
After this intake process, we get into the more typical sessions. I always start by asking if there is anything particular on your mind that you would like to talk about. This isn't the same as asking how you're week went... I aim to get at the things that are most relevant and important to you. Sometimes there is a lot to process so we may end up using the whole session to do so. Even in these situations, I will often mention some relevant skills and ideas for you to take with you. This part is very important because the topics you come in with are the issues we will be applying to skills to. That way you're not just learning generic mental health skills but also gaining an understanding of how to apply them to your own life and challenges.
Then I often go into a more structured approach to facilitate skills building. I use workbooks with many of my clients, though some prefer not to and that's fine too. These are not self-help books, they are designed to be used in therapy with a professional who is trained in CBT and DBT. As we go through the skills, I will typically elaborate on them and help draw the connections between them and what you are going through. I help you understand and figure out how to utilize them in your daily life.
The education on skills and how to apply them happens together in session, I do not suggest pages of the workbooks as homework. Instead, your task is to reflect on and practice the skills that we discussed in between sessions. I also often suggest videos or readings to further your knowledge. I also help clients set short term goals to focus on between sessions as well.
What do couples sessions look like?
I follow the format according to my training as a Gottman Couples Therapist. During the first session, I interview you both together to get relevant background information on your relationship and also observe how you interact. The second session is split and I meet with each of you individually for half the time. I will also invite you to each complete the Gottman Relationship Checkup (1) which
"Do we really need this now?
What if our concerns aren't as serious as other couples?"
Many people wait far too long and, on average, couples are unhappy for about six years before seeking couples therapy or marriage counseling (3). How much longer do you want to suffer?
Couples therapy has proven beneficial even when done very early on in a relationship. As I mentioned above, the Gottman Method Couples Therapy assessment and treatment planning process is so complete that it will probably catch things you hadn’t even thought of. You already know a lot about your own relationship, but I know what makes romance flourish to its full potential.
"Digging deeper into these issues together is already hard and discussing them with an outsider feels too vulnerable..."
There is no reward without risk, which means you cannot have love without vulnerability. In couples therapy and with me, you will have a safe, understanding, compassionate space where vulnerability can be embraced. Gottman Method couples therapy provides the structure, direction, and expertise to make overwhelming conversations manageable and productive. I don’t do couples therapy or marriage counseling to judge people, I do it because I want to help and I know how.
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