“The ground of my practice is the recognition of your capacity to heal. Healing, growth, and change occur in the here and now. Regret and ruminations about the future move us away from the psychological flexibility that enables us to engage in life in a way that reconnects us to what matters most.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
I was drawn to become a therapist out of my own explorations of emotional pain and the many ways we struggle to manage that pain through behaviors that initially provided relief, but then proved to be unhelpful. I was an English major who explored the human psyche through poetry, prose and the fine arts. Curiosity and an unyielding belief in the ability to heal motivated me to return to school and pursue my work as a therapist. In my clinical training and personal experience, I saw that validation of experience and re-framing certain thoughts and beliefs worked well so long as one was not moving through a craving or an experience of heightened dysregulation. This informed my pursuit of teachings that are both somatic and cognitive in nature that give space to skillfully attend to the here and now.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
The ground of my practice is the recognition of your capacity to heal. Healing, growth, and change occurs in the here and now. Regret and ruminations about the future move us away from the psychological flexibility that enables us to engage in life in a way that reconnects us to what matters most. Psychoeducation on neurobiology can be transformative and often dissolves much of the guilt and shame around behaviors that served as a way of survival. My practice is rooted in Polyvagal Theory, which is a neuroscience framework for restoring calm and connection. Through a somatic, polyvagal informed lens, we can create space to explore what is driving depression, anxiety or addiction and begin to cultivate skillful and psychologically flexible responses. Together, we build the capacity to become present in the moment, regulate the central nervous system and engage in life in a way that feels meaningful.
How does collaboration with other providers play into your work?
My clinical training took place in a collaborative setting. There are so many modalities for healing and growth. Addiction, regardless of the substance or behavior, profoundly disconnects us from our bodies and minds. Experiential approaches offered through Sensorimotor Therapy, Yoga and Art Therapy can be woven into mindfulness-based cognitive approaches to reorganize responses to triggers and help unravel both the psychological and physiological roots that fuel addiction. Some clients benefit tremendously from Medication Assisted Treatment. Some find their healing process requires the help of a family therapist to address interpersonal relationships. Through collaboration with other professionals committed to the art and science of therapy, my process with each client can be challenged and refined so that all potential modalities of healing can be explored. Collaboration is essential to ensure my perspective and knowledge continuously widens to accommodate the goals of my clients.
If there was one thing you wish people knew about the therapy experience who might be hesitant to try it, what would that be?
Something transformative happens when you are supported in creating a new narrative that brings you into the present and creates a new narrative between the past and what is possible for the future. There is something co-created between the counselor and the client and this space offers tremendous opportunity for healing. We are on this journey together. What possibilities could open for you if you gained an understanding of how an array of cognitive, emotional and physical experiences may lead to certain autonomic and somatic responses that fuel addiction? The focus of therapy is not placed on talking at length about things that have already happened or what is already known; nor is it a focus on gaining cognitive insight. Therapy holds the potential to be a space to discover new ways of being and relating that facilitates meaningful transformation in your life.
What excites you most about the mental healthcare landscape?
There are many models that explain addiction and drive treatment and most have not been very helpful. Substance misuse has personal and social meanings for each individual cannot be explained exclusively through the disease model. We have opportunities to address addiction and support mental health through modalities of therapy that are informed by neurobiology, harm-reduction, and mindfulness. The possibilities are endless as treatment becomes more and more centered on uncovering the meaning that the substance or behavior holds for the individual. We can also harness neuroplasticity in the brain to strengthen our capacity for resilience. Often a sense of overwhelm and disruption limits the ability to respond with flexibility, which in turn can drive substance misuse. Taking on a psycho-bio-social model allows for a personalized plan that incorporates cognitive and somatic tools into treatment to optimize clinical outcomes.
“Collaboration is essential to ensure my perspective and knowledge continuously widens to accommodate the goals of my clients.”