“I believe that clients tend to have solutions to many of their own problems but might be too confused or afraid to tap into their inner strengths and insights.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I grew up in a community that highly values introspection and lending a helping hand to those in need. This led me to the field of teaching and mentoring of troubled youth, helping them find direction, meaning, and purpose in life. I also did lots of volunteer work, visiting and working with the sick, the elderly, the imprisoned, and many others struggling physically and emotionally. Such encounters showed me that I was a good listener and able to connect with people deeply. After helping others in various settings for many years, I began my undergraduate studies in psychology at the age of 27 and completed a dual master’s degree in counseling. Ultimately, my career path led me toward becoming a licensed psychotherapist. I currently work with a diverse group of clients, ranging from college professors to members of underserved communities and everything in between.
What should someone know about working with you?
I believe in tailoring my interventions based on the client’s needs. At the start, I try to gather as much information as possible so that I can have a solid holistic view of the person and situation and thereby work collaboratively on treatment goals. For some clients, progress is straightforward with a beginning, middle, and end. But because human beings tend to be complex, the treatment focus often needs to shift as circumstances change. Because of the collaborative nature of psychotherapy, I am a strong believer in clients practicing new skills learned on their own in between sessions. This tends to help foster independence and growth while enhancing the level of overall progress. I like working with those who are insightful and highly motivated to do what it takes to enact change in their lives.
What do you do to continue learning and building competencies as a provider?
“Who is wise? One who learns from all persons.” -Ethics of Our Fathers
I listen, read, and collaborate with peers and other professionals in the field. No two individuals are exactly alike, so collaborating with others helps give me a fresh and nuanced perspective on my work. Besides, given that it is nearly impossible to be an expert and competent in all situations and under all circumstances, having a large pool of colleagues with varying experiences and expertise to communicate with helps sharpen my ability to work well with a large array of clients. I am especially interested in the emerging field of neuroscience, particularly in the relationship between trauma, addiction, attachment theory, and neural pathways in the brain. That is why I spend many hours each week reading, listening, and watching experts in the field demonstrate these new findings and how we can apply them to particular situations.
How do your own core values shape your approach to therapy?
“The carpenter has a hammer, the surgeon has a scalpel, the therapist has the self.” (Hayes & Gelso, 2001)
It is crucial for me as the therapist to be in tune with how my own values shape the therapeutic experience with clients. As a child, I was taught to cherish, value, and learn from the unique experiences of others as a way to grow, become a better person, and become better at the things I do. This idea has been central to my way of being in all facets of my life, particularly when it comes to helping others. When it comes to psychotherapy, I believe that clients tend to have solutions to many of their own problems but might be too confused or afraid to tap into their inner strengths and insights. By creating the right environment through fostering empathy and accepting clients unconditionally, the husk of fear and confusion tends to melt away, allowing for insight and strength to shine.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
When first using telehealth, I felt lost and frustrated by the challenge it posed for many of my clients. But I eventually learned how to turn this challenge into an asset, fostering greater opportunity and growth for many of my clients. In the past, bad weather conditions or lack of transportation held many clients back from receiving care, particularly those with physical disabilities. In addition, being able to use their own space as an anchor for change has become extremely empowering to many clients. I have found telehealth to be especially helpful in allowing clients to utilize their own space as a laboratory for change, which has helped many of them do more of the work on their own, hence fostering more independence and growth. Overall, as a person-centered therapist, telehealth has not only helped my clients have more flexibility with scheduling but has also empowered them toward greater independence and control over their own destiny.
“By creating the right environment through fostering empathy and accepting clients unconditionally, the husk of fear and confusion tends to melt away, allowing for insight and strength to shine.”