“My connection to people is based on presence and energy.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
As a child, I had developmental issues with speech and language. For this very reason, I adapted to music and played an instrument in the school’s band program. I also had difficulty understanding note reading but when I observed others getting better, I realized I wanted to get better as well and I developed a routine for practicing. My passion for music continued and I went on to earn a Bachelor of Music degree. As a performing musician, I experienced a lifestyle that needed attention. This enabled me to seek recovery that I continue to be vigilant about today. Encouraged by therapists, I decided to continue my education in counseling and learned how music, sound, and mindfulness practices can manifest personal healing and transformation. As a therapist, I feel the need to share these therapeutic discoveries in helping others reach their goals, identify the barriers that may decrease overall functioning, and enhance their ability to make progress.
What should someone know about working with you?
I like to begin by offering a relaxed space for therapy, getting a sense of the client's background, and exploring what areas they would like to focus on in therapy. I believe the development of the therapeutic relationship is the most vital to creating an alliance that is trustworthy. Therapy allows the client to experience something positive that they can take away with them at the end of the session. I give homework because there is a need for putting things into practice and the smallest goal can lead to the largest outcome. We manifest our change and even the practices that enable change itself. It all takes time, but we are not in control of its length and everyone can process things in a unique and different way. They are allowed! My connection to people is based on presence and energy. My practice is based on building a healthy therapeutic relationship and offering a therapeutic space that is nonjudgmental, compassionate, and person-centered.
How do your own core values shape your approach to therapy?
Through experience, a common question I get from clients is simple: How do I let go? Personally, this is a challenge we all experience and it's a practice in being vulnerable to feeling and the tension of holding on and wanting to follow something and stay with something without recognizing what it's doing to us physically and mentally. One of my core values as a therapist is the belief that we all deserve and have the ability within us to connect to a vibration energy that is positive, calming, and peaceful. I utilize practice skills that enhance the here and now, especially when the view of the world doesn't look so normal or positive. I then attempt to create a mindful balance to help overcome obstacles that take us out of being in our current environment and bring the attention back to what is here and now. As an approach to therapy, I simply want to be present in listening to your story and when developing a therapeutic plan with the hope of being a guide who helps you make progress.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
As we continue to inevitably change, I can only embrace the thought of how far we have come in utilizing the resources of advanced technology. This gives the therapist the ability to be productive in their practice and may help someone who is hesitant about coming to therapy. What's exciting is how this is benefiting both therapist and client. It benefits the therapist by increasing our knowledge of online webinars and training. It benefits the client by providing the option to engage in therapy online and in an environment that is comfortable and confidential. I am also excited about incorporating expressive therapies in my virtual sessions. When utilizing music therapy in my sessions, there is sometimes the need to break through the barrier of taking a risk. I always support the client with what they may bring into the session so they may reflect and internalize a positive outcome.
What are some of the counseling experiences you have had and some of the ways you approached those experiences?
My counseling experiences began with a one-year internship where I worked at an elderly home in order to fulfill the music therapy requirements for my master's degree. I utilized music therapy for clients with dementia and Alzheimer's and those receiving palliative or hospice care. I facilitated singing groups and therapeutic drumming. My second-year internship brought me to the clinical requirements of the program and the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in treating children, adolescents, and adults. My first job involved a year at a middle school with children experiencing trauma and ADHD. I set up shop in a book closet with many percussion instruments and a small guitar. I gave children instruments to play. This opened them up to building a trusting relationship with a clinician. It was a very unique experience, I have to say! After this, I spent three years at a substance use outpatient clinic where I ran group and individual therapy for adults experiencing chronic substance use. I used music and expressive therapy modalities whenever it was appropriate as well as behavioral therapy approaches. My next phase was working as a primary clinician in a local community with adults with various behavioral health needs. We conducted crisis stabilization through a team approach and offered community services for the people we served. I gained clinical experience in treating anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, substance use, psychotic disorders, the schizophrenia spectrum, and trauma and stress-related disorders. These services helped this population find support and live healthier lives within the community.
“My practice is based on building a healthy therapeutic relationship and offering a therapeutic space that is nonjudgmental, compassionate, and person-centered.”