“At heart, I am an investigator; getting to know someone before jumping into a plan is an essential piece of my practice.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
My first professional job out of college in 2003 had nothing to do with working in the social work or counseling field. What started as an interest in volunteering led to me accepting a position as a child protective investigator in Florida. After realizing that a degree would open other opportunities, I moved to Chicago and went back to school for a master's in social work.
In each of the jobs I have held since graduating in 2006, I have found evidence to back the idea that a person’s past informs their present. It feels like I have instinctively followed a path that has led me to work with people to help them find patterns and meaning behind current problems and difficulties. Even though I did not set out with an idea of where I wanted to take my degree, providing therapy has turned into the best fit for me professionally.
What should someone know about working with you?
At heart, I am an investigator; getting to know someone before jumping into a plan is an essential piece of my practice. Asking for information during intake paperwork is only part of the process. I work to gain trust and build rapport by asking questions to inform the direction of each session. There is no one-size-fits-all in therapy and I do my best to create individual plans based on information organically gathered. Using evidenced-based measurements and tools, I work to develop a plan that uses methods with proven success treating similar concerns and presentations.
How do your own core values shape your approach to therapy?
The more I know, the more I grow. Knowledge and learning are core to who I am as a person. When I can better understand the meaning behind reactions, responses, and communication, I find patience with myself and the people in my life. Sharing that knowledge in my role as a therapist has been the motivating factor for me to keep learning and looking for ways to help others connect the dots between their current problems and their past experiences. Other core values like justice and authenticity go hand-in-hand with knowledge and learning. While there may be no resolution to past hurts or harms, there is a sense of justice that comes with knowing there are ways to take power back over responses and reactions that feel out of control. In order to share the knowledge I have while ensuring buy-in and understanding, I have to be authentic. I am not an expert in anyone's life and can only help as much as the information is accepted.
What is a fundamental component of how you approach therapy?
There is freedom that comes from knowing and understanding how the past plays a part in the present. Feeling overwhelmed by emotions is a common theme I see when talking to people looking for therapy. The shame and embarrassment that comes from a perceived lack of control can lead to feelings of heaviness, depression, and anxiety. Professionally, my passion is helping people who are overwhelmed by stress and feel out of control with their emotions. My best practice comes from working with men and women who beat themselves up or snot cry in the bathroom after getting called out for something or being disrespected at work. They may struggle to communicate and may end up in situations where they are devalued and dismissed. I also enjoy working with the parent whose child's therapist recommends they get therapy and couples who find themselves flying off the handle about something that probably wasn't that big of a deal in hindsight. It's my goal to help people take their power back by learning how to detect patterns in their thoughts and discover ways to gain better control over their emotions.
“There is freedom that comes from knowing and understanding how the past plays a part in the present.”