“I find that humor helps in the process of gaining trust and making sure I understand the presenting problems and needs.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
When I decided to get my MSW, the goal was to eventually work for legislators to help shape policy. This interest grew from my experiences working as a child protective investigator in Florida. Before I could start pursuing that career path, I wanted to gain a better understanding of people’s experiences and needs. As I started to work in the counseling field, I found myself drawn to the idea that most of the problems people have stem from their early childhood experiences. And the assumption they had is that their choices were out of their control. I started to learn more about different therapeutic models, started CBT work in my own therapy, and eventually gravitated towards a belief that change is possible and have found my passion is instilling that hope in others.
What should someone know about working with you?
I’m pretty funny for a social worker. Getting to know someone before jumping into a plan is an essential piece of my practice. And I find that humor helps in the process of gaining trust and making sure I understand the presenting problems and needs. There is no one-size-fits-all in therapy. Building rapport is key to helping someone develop a personalized plan that best meets their needs. And the plans always include achievable goals and objectives, using interventions that have proven success treating similar concerns and presentations.
How do your own core values shape your approach to therapy?
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 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 from a perceived lack of control over reactions to stress can lead to heaviness, depression, and anxiety. Professionally, my passion is helping people who are easily distressed and feel out of control with their emotions. My best practice comes from working with people who beat themselves up for how they respond to stress in their relationships, as parents, and at work. They may struggle to communicate and find themselves in situations where they fly off the handle about something that wasn't that big of a deal in retrospect, resulting in feeling devalued or dismissed because of their reactions. Helping people recognize the links between their current problems and past experiences allows for understanding and from there, the goal is finding compassion for themselves. Feeling out of control leads to self-limiting beliefs and can leave people feeling stuck. In therapy, a ladder is created to help them dig out, and self-compassion is the focus for the first step.
“There is freedom from knowing and understanding how the past plays a part in the present.”