“I like working with clients who are motivated to seek treatment and will work on applying skills between sessions.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I was working in the field of healthcare administration when my third child was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. Learning about autism, parenting, advocating for my child, and helping other parents in their similar journeys was what drew me away from the business world and into a direct helping role. I found working with parents much more gratifying than working in the corporate world! I first worked as an autism parent trainer after becoming certified in relationship development intervention, an autism parenting method which had helped my child. I decided to go back for a master's in a clinical field and get a clinical license so I would be able to help more clients by billing through insurance. I also wanted to broaden my expertise to include other areas besides autism. During my MSW program, I accepted an internship as a DBT clinical intern, and I was able to learn this intervention during the five years I stayed at the clinic before entering private practice.
What should someone know about working with you?
I consider my approach somewhat structured while still meeting clients where they are. The first session starts with me letting the client tell their story for about half the session. Then I ask some required intake questions involving the client's history, goals for therapy, strengths, and preferences. During the second session, I do some standard assessments depending on the presenting problem, which will help with treatment planning. I then do a collaborative treatment plan with clients and they are able to see this and sign off on it so they know exactly what we are working on. I often assign things to work on between sessions in order to help clients apply the concepts and skills taught and discussed in the session. I like working with clients who are motivated to seek treatment and will work on applying skills between sessions. I like clients who are comfortable giving me honest feedback about what is and is not working for them, both within our relationship and in the therapeutic process.
What do you do to continue learning and building competencies as a provider?
I recently decided to obtain training in accelerated resolution therapy to supplement my DBT training and offer more complete services for clients suffering from trauma. I was very interested in learning about this method, which supposedly could produce complete relief from distressing emotions stemming from traumatic events in as little as one session! The training was fascinating and my clients and I have been delighted with the results! I also have purchased an online course on the neurophysiology of trauma that is taught by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk and others. I look forward to taking this course in my freetime. In addition, I participate in peer supervision with an individual peer as well as with a group of colleagues. I also regularly follow and contribute to a number of professional Facebook groups made up of therapist colleagues. I learn much about the latest techniques from these groups, and they provide a great resource for referrals for my clients.
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
I was trained and certified as a consultant in relationship development intervention, a parent training program developed for children on the autism spectrum with applicability to general parenting practices as well. In my parenting work, an area that interested me was parent communication style with neurotypical children compared to parent communication style with children on the autism spectrum. I noticed anecdotally that parents of children on the spectrum appeared to use more directive language with their children than parents did with neurotypical children. I thought that if this hypothesis could be backed by a research study, the findings could have important implications in informing effective communication methods to help remediate the communication difficulties of autism. I began such a research project with a colleague but our work was interrupted due to other commitments we both had. I hope to resume the work at some point soon!
What do you think are the most important qualities for a therapist to have and to what extent do you have these qualities?
I believe that one of the most important qualities for a therapist is to convey to clients a sense of comfort and confidence in oneself and at the same time, a sense of humility and openness to learning from the client. Along with these qualities comes the ability to engage in comfortable, flexible, and open-ended dialogue while maintaining necessary structure and direction in the sessions. I believe these qualities are important both in developing a strong therapeutic rapport and in achieving positive therapeutic outcomes. I try hard every day to live up to these qualities!
“I like clients who are comfortable giving me honest feedback about what is and is not working for them, both within our relationship and in the therapeutic process.”