I was raised in a military family, which afforded me the incredible opportunity to travel the world with my family. Out of these early experiences grew a genuine appreciation for and fascination with human diversity and the complexity of human behavior.
I completed my undergraduate education at Michigan State University and received my doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Northern Illinois University where I was a member of the Anxiety Disorders Research lab. I completed my predoctoral internship at the Ann Arbor Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Association with the University of Michigan, and I completed my postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan/Ann Arbor VA Postdoctoral Consortium as the Women’s Mental Health Fellow. While on internship and postdoc, I focused my training in the areas of Anxiety Disorders, OCD, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Women’s Health, and Advanced Psychodiagnostic Assessment. My main area of research focus has been in the area of Social Phobia and PTSD, which is represented through publications, invited presentations, and professional presentations at national and international conferences.
Areas of Specialty
I identify as a Cognitive-Behavioral (CBT) therapist and am greatly committed to providing Evidence-Based Practice. This means that I work to ensure that the therapies I offer are within my areas of clinical competence and that they have been found to be effective in research studies. I work primarily with adults in individual therapy. I am currently a member of LivingRite’s PTSD and Trauma Recovery Specialty Clinic and Women’s Mental Health Speciality Clinic. I am also a member of and Clinic Lead for the Anxiety and OCD Specialty Clinic. I have spent the majority of my clinical and research experience in the area of Anxiety Disorders, OCD, and PTSD. Therefore, I feel particularly well-suited to provide professional services in this area. I am currently the Anxiety and OCD Specialty Team Lead.
I use empirically-supported exposure-based CBT treatments for anxiety disorders including Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder (Interoceptive Exposures) with and without Agoraphobia, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Specific Phobias.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a disorder characterized by excessive worry about many things. This might include worrying about one’s own health or the health of a loved one, worrying about school, work, finances, or worrying about the future, etc.
Panic Disorder (with or without Agoraphobia) is characterized by frequent panic attacks that seem to come out of the blue. Individuals with panic attacks often experience physicial fears (e.g., fear of dying, fear of having a heart attack), cognitive fears (e.g., fear of losing control or going crazy), or social fears (e.g., fear of appearing crazy). Because of the panic attacks, individuals often fear going places where they might have a panic attack or where escape might be difficult. As a result, an individual’s “safe” places often reduce in number resulting in a progression towards not being able to participate in and enjoy life.
Social Anxiety Disorder is a disorder characterized by fear of negative evaluation (and sometimes positive evaluation). A person with Social Anxiety Disoder might assume that they will be judged by others and that this will result in negative consequences. Social Anxiety can include a fear of interaction with others or performing in front of others.
In all Anxiety Disorders, a person has developed “Danger Associations” and my job is to help the person learn new “Safety Associations.” Many of the people I work with describe anxiety as taking over their lives and making their world smaller. I work to support and guide my client’s in taking their life back and “re-setting” their alarm system.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is characterized by intrusive, unwanted, and/or distressing thoughts. In order to decrease the distress associated with the thoughts, a person with OCD engages in compulsions. While OCD is commonly associated with obsessions and compulsions related to fear of contamination and associated cleaning rituals (e.g., hand washing), obsessions and compulsions can take many many different forms. Obsessions may include but are not limited to Contamination Obsessions, Fears of Losing Control, Unwanted Harm Obsessions, Unwanted Sexual Thoughts, Religious Obsessions (Scrupulosity), etc. Compulsions may include but are not limited to Washing/Cleaning, Checking, Arranging/Ordering, Repeating, Reassurance Seeking, Mental Compulsions (e.g., repeating phrases to oneself, counting, praying, undoing, neutralizing, mental reviewing), “Just Right” Compulsions, etc.
Individuals with OCD are often plauged by doubt and guilt and feel uncomfortable with uncertainty. For the Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder I use Exposure and Response Prevention. Exposure and Response Prevention involves confronting fears without the use of compulsions and learning why and how instrusive thoughts persist. Compulsions and other forms of avoidance are thought to perpetuate and maintain intrusive thoughts and anxiety.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Many people experience trauma throughout the course of their lives. Following a trauma, many symptoms can emerge that have a negative impact such as anxiety, insomnia, feeling disconnected with others, nightmares, or avoidance of certain places or people. For some of these individuals, these symptoms will dissipate over time; however, for others, these symptoms can linger or can become worse. These lingering or worsening symptoms may represent a disorder called PTSD. PTSD is characterized by a number of symptoms including re-experiencing symptoms (e.g., nightmares, flashbacks), avoidance (e.g., not wanting to talk or thing about the trauma), negative thoughts and mood (e.g., feeling disconnected from others, depression), and hyperarousal (e.g., insomnia, irritability, difficulty concentrating). I think of PTSD as a “danger system” that is being triggered too strongly and too frequently. My job is to help these individuals “recalibrate” their danger systems to reduce anxiety and avoidance, process the emotions associated with the trauma, make sense of what happened, gain confidence, and to participate in and enjoy life. Specifically, I offer evidence-based treatments for PTSD including Prolonged Exposure and Cognitive Processing Therapy.
It is important to note that the consequences of trauma can result in many other types of symptoms including anxiety related to social situations, panic attacks, grief, and depression. My goal is to help identify the negative consequences of the trauma that are specific to each individual and to determine the best course of treatment.
Women’s Mental Health
As mentioned, I completed my postdoctoral fellowship in mental health concerns specific to women and have worked to obtain additional trainings in this area. Therefore, I have a special interest and specialized training in working with women who need help with concerns such as sexual trauma or perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (e.g., postpartum depression, postpartum panic attacks, postpartum OCD, etc.).
Certificates and Supplementary Training
– Interdisciplinary Teaching Certificate
– Cognitive Behavioral Analysis Systems of Psychotherapy
(CBASP) for Chronic Depression National Certificate
– Interpersonal Psychotherapy, Level A Certificate
– Postpartum Support International Training Certificate:
Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, Components of Care
– Behavioral Therapy Training Institute, International OCD Foundation
– Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA)
– The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS)
– The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT)
– The International OCD Foundation (IOCDF)