What inspired you to pursue a career as a psychotherapist?
When I was in my early 20s, I experienced anxiety, depression, and panic attacks for the first time. It was terrifying, and I thought my life was over. On top of that, I felt completely lost trying to navigate the mental healthcare system.
I saw some clinicians who made me feel dismissed, unimportant, and invalidated. By some stroke of luck, I also found providers who listened intently, responded compassionately, and helped me learn about my mind.
Years later, I left my career in journalism to become a clinical social worker. I felt inspired to help others in the way those clinicians helped me. That inspiration — in addition to my interest in psychology, community service, social justice, and others’ stories — made clinical social work a good fit.
As a psychotherapist, what part of your job is most satisfying?
Few things are as satisfying as seeing and hearing the ways clients have grown in therapy. I’ve gotten to watch people move from debilitating mental health crises to states of fulfillment and wellness. I’ve gotten to see the shift that occurs when a new skill or insight really clicks for a client. I’ve even had a few moments when clients referred to their pre-therapy selves as “the old me.” Facilitating and witnessing meaningful change each day is a really special privilege.
How would you describe your therapeutic approach?
Research shows the relationship between a therapist and client is the greatest predictor of successful outcomes in therapy. Because of this (and simply because I like my clients), I work hard to create an atmosphere that is warm, accepting, and validating. There’s so much power and healing in feeling truly heard, and I want to provide that to my clients.
Past clients have described therapy with me as open, kind, caring, supportive, comfortable, and “a safe space.”
My therapeutic approach is typically based in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), with a good dose of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) thrown into the mix. I’m also trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which is predominately used in the treatment of trauma and anxiety disorders. I focus heavily on helping clients process their emotions; understand the connection between mood and behavior; learn skills tailored to their goals; and live more fulfilling, values-driven lives.
Additionally, I’m committed to creating a therapeutic space that upholds social justice and pushes back against the systems of oppression that disproportionately impact communities of color and LGBTQIA+ individuals.
Why do you believe that psychotherapy can help?
Once upon a time, I was highly skeptical about psychotherapy. Since then, I’ve seen its benefits many times over, both first-hand and professionally. There’s also a solid research base showing it can be really helpful.
If you’re on the fence about therapy, I’d recommend giving it a shot. I’ve had lots of clients say they wish they’d tried it sooner.
What are some of your specialties and what drew you to them?
My work has largely focused on treatment of anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. I know how hopeless and scary these conditions can feel, and it’s rewarding to help others navigate through them. I’m also passionate about trauma treatment, which is inspired by the years I spent working with individuals who survived torture and human trafficking.
Some of my other clinical interests include:
— Helping clients achieve healthier work-life balance and boundaries
— Assisting clients with relationship issues and communication
— Helping moms and dads with perinatal and postpartum mental health concerns
What is one thing about psychotherapy you wish everyone knew?
Give your therapist a heads up if something isn’t working for you. There are a ton of psychotherapy approaches, and what works for one person may not work for another. That’s perfectly ok and normal.
We might have to do a bit of trial and error to see what sticks. I’d recommend being open to trying new things, but also being open about which things aren’t going well. We can always recalibrate and try a different route.
What are your favorite self-care activities?
- Going on long walks, ideally with my dog
- Reading and listening to books
- Cleaning and organizing my space
- Spending time with loved ones
- Gardening (is that what you call it when you have houseplants?)
- Drawing or coloring
- Playing guitar
- Watching shows that are either really funny or really fascinating
- Sipping on coffee in front of the fireplace
- Spending time in locations I find beautiful and inspiring (I’m a big fan of the lakeshore, the Art Institute of Chicago, Lincoln and Humboldt parks, and the Garfield Park Conservatory)