I have been a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) for over 17 years. I practiced in California for over 15 years, before moving to North Carolina in 2008 and receiving my license to practice here in 2009. I counsel individuals, couples, adolescents and families to help them achieve better emotional health, wholeness, and improved relationships. I am also a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in North Carolina.
For 10 years in California, I served as the Associate Clinical Director of The Institute for Professional Parenting (TIPP), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing parenting education. I taught parenting classes, led seminars, and facilitated groups and workshops for both adults and children on relationship, communication, and life skills. In addition, I supervised interns, teachers, and coaches.
I have also conducted workshops on mother-daughter relationships, separation and divorce, healing the trauma of sexual abuse, and currently facilitate SoulCollage® playshops (an art therapy process of self-discovery).
For ten years I worked and consulted with a forensic psychologist who specialized in personal injury cases, conducting psychological assessments, interviews, administering tests, and writing psychological reports for use in the courts.
I use various modalities in working with individuals, couples, and families, drawing upon my training and experience with modes of therapy including attachment theory, family systems, cognitive-behavioral, transpersonal, and psychodynamic (depth psychology), depending upon the needs and lifestyle of the individual. My goal is to help individuals and families heal emotional wounds, learn beneficial communication and coping skills, lead full and productive lives, and engage in healthy relationships.
Women’s issues, those particular milestones that are unique to feminine psychology and part of the “Heroine’s Journey,” are distinct from the “Hero’s Journey” of the masculine. They may involve issues of self-esteem and self-empowerment for young girls growing up in a society that puts a premium on how one looks and measures up. Girls often gauge themselves against unrealistic and perfectionist standards and fight battles related to body image for years.
It is estimated that one out of four girls has been sexually abused sometime in her life before the age of 18. The emotional wounding from abuse is usually deep and long-lasting, but can be healed by carefully working through the trauma and learning self-empowerment and self-care. Statistically, women suffer more depression and anxiety than men, often due to the devaluation of the feminine in family and in society, and old patriarchal models of power and domination prevalent in our culture and many religions.
In addition, women tend to have issues of co-dependency, putting others’ needs ahead of their own and expending much of their time and energy fixating on others’ problems and neglecting themselves. Women struggle to find balance in the many roles they play: mother, daughter, wife, career woman, friend, and often need help figuring out where they fit into the picture. I enjoy helping women on their journey towards healing, wholeness, and happiness.
Couples are under a lot of pressure today as they try to balance the demands of work, marriage, children, and families. Having led relationship skills groups for many years and taught communication skills to couples, I bring this background and knowledge into my work with couples who want to improve their relationship. Frequently, couples complain of feeling disconnected due to falling into complacency, assuming roles that may become rigid, and failing to truly communicate with each other and tend to the relationship.
Often couples really don’t know how to communicate well and need to learn how to resolve conflict without demeaning, diminishing or destroying each other. The demands of parenting usually adds stress to the relationship so it’s important that couples learn to make agreements about parenting and get on the same page. I work with couples to help them realign their relationship back to the way it started or help them start over in a healthier way, based on equality and mutual respect.
Separation and Divorce
Many of the families I counseled and who attended parenting classes and groups I facilitated were adjusting to life changes from separation and divorce. They needed help with co-parenting, custody decisions, changes in living situations, blended families, and issues related to the effects on children.
It is always satisfying to work with parents who are motivated to learn to be better parents and who truly want to do what is in the best interest of their children. To that end, I work with parents contemplating or going through with separation and divorce to provide an objective, mediating perspective that allows them to see and evaluate their choices more clearly. Many times couples enter into divorce without having tried couples counseling or marital therapy because they have not considered that with help they may be able to resolve their problems and keep the marriage intact. When children are involved, it is more important than ever for parents to give marital therapy a chance and try to resolve issues before they make a final decision that will effect their children for years to come.
While divorce is statistically common in our society, it is nonetheless a difficult and painful process for all family members to experience. Long-term studies of children of divorce show that the psychological effects are often long-lasting and profound, sometimes negatively impacting their adult relationships, particularly when parents don’t pay attention to the emotional needs of their children during these difficult times. Parents who learn what they can do to help their children through these challenges, who strive to co-parent amicably, and who open up the lines of communication and allow feelings to be expressed, can greatly reduce the emotional effects of divorce on their children. I strive to work with parents from a neutral position to help them achieve these goals.