I earned my Master’s degree in child couple and family therapy from Antioch University, Seattle. There, I studied family systems therapy while taking a closer look at the ways people develop meaning of the events and struggles in their lives. My Bachelor’s degree is from the Evergreen State College in Olympia. At Evergreen, I concentrated on cultural studies, art and the phenomenon of death and dying.
I have been a counselor for the past 17 years. I began this work by co-facilitating youth groups and retreats and went on to expand my work with young people and families. This included residential treatment with youth and their families in crisis, facilitating supports groups for LGBTQ youth and individual counseling with low income and homeless young people. More recently, I have worked with individuals who live with severe and persistent mental health issues as well as families attempting to reunite after their children have been taken into foster care. I have assisted many individuals and families who are dealing with the effects of substance use and addiction.
My approach to substance use management as well as other behavioral changes is called Harm Reduction. It addresses the changes a person decides to make in regards to a given behavior and attempts, in the meantime, to reduce the harm surrounding that behavior. My success rate using this approach has been wonderful. While the change may not be quick, it seems to last.
I believe that people need a supportive environment where they are acknowledged in a way that they are free to discover what is true and right for themselves. While we are all individuals, we are connected to and need one another. Even after we separate from our original family, we often recreate those same dynamics. Understanding family dynamics is a major component of changing unwanted behaviors. Making sense of and healing our relationships is a crucial part of being well. I believe also that unresolved grief, large and small gets in the way of living the lives we desire.
I lean toward existentialist thinking in my practice. That is to say I feel many of our struggles come from four paradoxes. How do we make meaning of our world? How do we deal with our own mortality while at the same time living as fully as we can? How do we honor and know what types of choices we have and then balance that with our responsibilities? Finally, how do we truly connect with others while embracing the reality that we are the only person having our particular experience?