WHY I DO WHAT I DO
Healing in therapy is based in the therapeutic relationship. I keep sessions focused on you and your goals, but I understand it is normal to want to know a little about the person sitting across from you. So, here is a little about me and how I came to be a therapist.
My mission is to hear and see people as they really are. I strongly believe that, at the core, every human is worthy and healthy, but sometimes the difficulties in life can get us off-track. My life experiences have led me to this conclusion.
I experienced trauma at age 11, shortly thereafter joined by its annoying cousins anxiety and depression. I went to two different therapists over the next year and found the experience of counseling at that age to depend greatly on the therapist and the relationship built in that special environment. The first therapist immediately tried to "fix" me and I was left believing I was broken and feeling misunderstood. The second therapist listened intently and balanced seeing my strengths with teaching me new ways to view things and address challenges. This approach helped me feel validated and motivated to make changes. I began to feel and function better, largely due to my time in counseling.
Once I was in high school, I joined a program called GENaustin (the Girl’s Empowerment Network of Austin) and began mentoring 13-year-old girls. Lo and behold, I discovered that my painful experiences at that age were not unique. The girls in that program would come to me each week and share feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation, confusion, self-doubt and many other painful experiences. Once they shared and felt heard, they expressed feeling better. I know it sounds romanticized, but from that moment I knew what I wanted to do: hear people.
I mean, deeply hear people- their stories, experiences, pain, perceptions, fears, everything.
This sounds so simple, but it is a relatively rare experience to be heard and understood at a deep level. Once someone feels heard, they often become open to experimenting with new approaches and learning new skills. Hearing and helping became my mission and I have spent the last 14 years working toward this goal.
Following undergraduate school, I decided I wanted to get some real experience working with people before going on to graduate school. I began working at a home for adolescent girls in CPS custody called The Settlement Home for Children. These teens had endured hardships and trauma that are hard for most people to think about. For 80 hours per week, living on-site, I became a stand-in caregiver.
Again, I witnessed the immense healing created when one feels heard and accepted unconditionally. I began my master’s program in Professional Counseling at Texas State University during this time and specialized in adolescent development. During my internship phase, I worked at Williamson County Juvenile Services providing counseling to the adolescents who were detained and working through the treatment program. Following graduation, I was hired as their therapist for the adolescent girl’s treatment program. My job was to help girls who had been in and out of detention discover what was not working in their lives and help them to make changes. I discovered that what was fueling their self-defeating behaviors was pain from previous experiences.
Again, my experience demonstrated to me the power of hearing and being present for someone’s story.
I also continued to see the link between traumatic life experiences and people getting stuck in self-destructive patterns. After several years of working with these kids and their families, I decided I wanted to begin my own practice and work to help more people in the community.
I have had my own practice for several years and have had the honor of witnessing hundreds of people’s life stories and helping them discover their strengths as well as what is not working for them. I continue to work with adolescents and maintain the same amount of enthusiasm for guiding and supporting this population.
I have also discovered a passion for working with adults. Aging does not dampen our need to be truly seen and heard, especially in our most vulnerable stories. I have found that most adults still carry their wounds from childhood and adolescence and until they work to love, forgive, and hear these parts of themselves, they struggle to rediscover their most authentic selves.
My areas of specialty are helping people heal from mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma, adapt to life transitions, and working with people who feel rejected or a lack of belonging (in the world, their communities, their families, their peers, etc.)