“I enjoy working with people who feel stuck in their lives.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I am grateful to be a therapist because it allows me to know people on a deep level and help them to know themselves. In my first career as an anthropology professor, I lived mainly in my intellect. I didn't realize how my difficult childhood experiences were blocking me from fully knowing myself or connecting with others. As I gradually came to my own self-awareness, I found that I could integrate my capacity for intellectual understanding with my newfound emotional and physical consciousness to become a powerful support to others.
What should someone know about working with you?
I enjoy working with people who feel stuck in their lives. They may have done therapy before and found that it only got them so far; they learned some coping techniques and identified unproductive thoughts but they still get frequently triggered and fail to move forward with goals. Or they may be new to therapy and wonder if there even is a way to make sense of why they feel or act the way that they do. Stuckness often stems from childhood experiences, such as abuse (physical, sexual, or emotional), neglect, or growing up in an invalidating environment that failed to support a child’s feelings, perceptions, needs, desires, identity, or self-concept. This can happen even when parents are loving and meet children’s physical needs. It may happen when parents fail to understand LGBTQ children, when immigrant children find themselves in a society with unfamiliar norms, or when parents have not fully processed their own childhood trauma.
What do you do to continue learning and building competencies as a provider?
Becoming the best therapist I can be is a lifelong project for me. Although I have six years of experience and extensive postgraduate training, I continue to spend between 3-6 hours per week in professional development activities. These include training, consultation, and supervision. I believe that it is important to discuss client issues with supervisors or colleagues (preserving confidentiality, of course.) This allows me to get feedback on my case conceptualization and treatment planning and to become aware of any blind spots I may have. A client’s progress is too important to rely on only one opinion and I am also committed to fine-tuning my techniques through training. In my gestalt certificate program, we do therapy on one another in front of colleagues and supervisors, which provides us with real-time suggestions as well as constructive criticism from people who have actually seen us work.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
I am excited that therapists and other health professionals are increasingly focused on integrating the healing of mind and body. Somatic experiences are an important resource, both for emotional regulation and for accessing traumatic memories for processing. At the same time, many physical health concerns can be improved or cured through mental health interventions, such as EMDR.
“Stuckness often stems from childhood experiences, such as abuse (physical, sexual, or emotional), neglect, or growing up in an invalidating environment that failed to support a child’s feelings, perceptions, needs, desires, identity, or self-concept.”