“I encourage my clients to be curious about themselves and their experiences.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
Becoming a psychologist was a bit of a surprise for me. Growing up, I wanted to be a marine biologist but realized that a life of research wasn't for me. I switched my major a few times and found that psychology captivated my curiosity, so I stuck with it. I pursued my doctorate right after college and specifically chose a school that would allow me to work in different settings and learn about the many different ways of practicing psychology. After gaining experience in hospitals, rehab centers, detention centers, and colleges, I realized that I preferred working with ambitious yet anxious young adults.
What should someone know about working with you?
My intake sessions are pretty structured, as I want to gather as much information as possible to inform our work together. Ongoing sessions are generally pretty unstructured, though I do generally end sessions with a summary of things to work on between sessions or things to keep in mind. I’m not a fan of homework, but I do generally expect my clients to be thinking about what we discussed between sessions. I'll ask thought-provoking questions to help you look at things from a different perspective. I encourage my clients to be curious about themselves and their experiences. I share my thoughts and observations periodically and weave humor into my work because we all need to laugh sometimes.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try therapy?
Give it a try and allow yourself a few sessions to decide whether or not you like it. The first few sessions can be awkward because you've yet to get into a groove with your therapist — that's normal. More importantly, don't be afraid to talk to your therapist about what's working or not working to determine if you need to find someone new, or if you can shift gears to make therapy work better for you.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
Mental health is becoming less stigmatized — people are willing to be curious about themselves and are willing to go to therapy or get psychological testing done (the really exciting stuff, in my opinion!). Therapy and testing are no longer seen as things that are bad, or signs of weakness, or last resorts. People are more proactive about seeking help and less scared to learn about themselves, which is really exciting work to do in therapy. It is fun to explore what is hiding underneath and be curious about what it all means, rather than go through life putting out internal fires.
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
I did my dissertation on first-generation students and what contributes to their resilience and what makes their struggles unique. This was fascinating and validating, as I am a first-generation student myself. Having this knowledge informs how I speak with clients (first-generation or otherwise) about managing burnout, dealing with imposter syndrome, setting manageable goals and healthy boundaries, and living a life that is sustainable and gratifying. I have also done a fair amount of continuing education related to executive functioning (EF), the many different types of EF, how that impacts our emotional and mental well-being and daily life. This knowledge informs the therapy I offer, but is especially relevant to testing feedback and recommendations.
“It is fun to explore what is hiding underneath and be curious about what it all means, rather than go through life putting out internal fires.”