“I strongly believe that a supportive, empathetic, and collaborative therapeutic relationship can promote healing.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
I learned about the social work profession as a young adult and felt connected to its history in casework, advocacy, and social justice. I was drawn to clinical social work in the medical setting, helping individuals navigate complex systems and cope with the stress that illness places on both the mind and body. In my graduate education, I focused on gerontology and I have since developed an expertise in palliative care. Experience providing crisis intervention in hospitals led me to focus more closely on working with survivors of trauma, including acute sexual assault and military-related trauma. It is an honor to create space for individuals to explore the effects of trauma and support their post-traumatic growth. I strongly believe that a supportive, empathetic, and collaborative therapeutic relationship can promote healing. I remain as passionate about my work as I did when I first began over 15 years ago.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
In our first session, we’ll talk about what has brought you to therapy and any prior experience you may have working with a therapist. We'll start by setting small goals to help you tackle some of the discomfort you’re experiencing. While we’re working on these goals, we’ll both be curious about some of the thoughts and feelings that are coming up as you imagine taking steps forward. We may revisit some tools that you’ve used in the past to help cope with challenges and also learn new ways of managing stress. In our work together, we may discover some other things you’d like to work on; we’ll remain curious about what’s coming up for you. In my practice, I utilize cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and narrative, relational and family systems interventions depending on your needs.
What do you think is the biggest barrier today for people seeking care?
Those with depression, anxiety, or serious medical illness may find it challenging just to get through the day. It can feel overwhelming to take the steps to begin therapy when it is difficult to find motivation. There are cultural and financial barriers to mental health treatment that cannot be overstated. The idea that physical and mental health are not interdependent is an additional barrier to accessing care. Our medical system isn’t yet equipped to explore the psychosocial impact of serious or chronic illness during a traditional medical visit. This often leads to under-diagnosis and under-treatment of depression, anxiety, and traumatic stress responses. The integration of behavioral health into primary care settings is an exciting shift, although there is still a lot of work to be done.
If there was one thing you wish people knew about the therapy experience who might be hesitant to try it, what would that be?
It is common to feel anxious or ambivalent about taking the first steps toward deeper exploration and change. I recognize the courage it takes to reach out for help. The therapeutic relationship is collaborative and your needs are driving our work together. Just like any relationship, it is one that is dynamic, where trust may build over time. I seek and encourage your feedback so that we can make sure we’re making progress toward your goals.
What is your primary clinical focus today?
I work with individuals coping with serious medical illness as they adjust to a new diagnosis, as they adapt to a new way of moving and being in their world, and as they come to need and depend on friends and family in new ways. Taking time to reflect on thoughts and feelings of uncertainty, loss, and hope can support resiliency over time. I also work with the loved ones of those who are chronically or seriously ill, as relationships and roles within the family shift and change. Supporting a loved one through a serious illness can be emotionally, spiritually, and physically taxing. I work to create a safe space to identify how an individual can sustain themselves while caring for another.
“Taking time to reflect on thoughts and feelings of uncertainty, loss, and hope can support resiliency over time.”
Interested in speaking with Jennifer?