I often dreaded the infamous statement, “what do you want to do when you grow up?” I knew at a young age that I wanted a career in something that I was passionate about and that would benefit others, but struggled to find the word to describe it. I discovered my interest in becoming a counselor in high school. There, I took my first psychology class and found myself actually reading ahead in a very dry textbook. I found myself becoming increasingly interested in learning about all the different psychological symptoms, their causes, and the assortment of treatments.
After graduating high school, and wanting more knowledge in psychology, I attended Northern Illinois University where I completed my undergraduate degree. While there, I joined a peer mentor program for the local middle school after school program. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with those students and learned that each student had different needs and that I needed to adapt to them, not the other way around. It is my time that I spent with these students that solidified what had originally begun in high school. Upon receiving my undergraduate degree, I felt that my journey had truly begun. I now had a more defined focus of what my future looked like but I needed yet more knowledge.
I then attended Roosevelt University for grad school, where I earned a Master of Arts degree and state Licensed Professional Counselor. Through Roosevelt’s practicum program, I performed my internship in a therapeutic day school setting. The internship turned into a wonderful job opportunity where I was able to expand my knowledge and continued growing as a generalist and substance abuse counselor, and then became a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. The experience I gained there was invaluable as I worked with children, adolescents and their families. In addition to the day school, I began working at a private practice and soon found that I enjoy working with adults as well. From working in two polar opposite settings, I have learned the importance of adaptability and the power of the therapeutic relationship. I often adapt my therapeutic approach based on the client’s wants, needs, personal goals, and symptom reduction. I have experience in client-centered therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy.
Areas of Clinical Specialty
Depression and Anxiety
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America nearly half of those diagnosed with depression also experience symptoms of anxiety. Over 16 million people a year experience symptoms relating to anxiety and 40 million are affected by depressive symptoms. In my experience as a counselor, depression and anxiety symptoms are what I have seen to be the most common. I have also found that many clients I have come across have had at least one person in their life dismiss their symptoms and have been told to just, “get over it” and to “stop worrying”. I strive hard to never be dismissive but empathic as we work toward symptom reduction.
Depressive symptoms can look different in adults than in children and adolescents. Adults most commonly experience loss of interest or energy, feelings of persistent sadness or hopelessness, increased isolation, along with changes in appetite and sleep patterns. Although a child or adolescent may experience similar symptoms, it may present it’s self in different ways such as self-destructive behavior, outbursts, temper tantrums, rapid mood changes, and uncontrollable anger or irritability.
Similar to depression, anxiety can present itself in other ways at different ages. In adults, the common symptoms are excessive worrying and fear, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating on anything other than the worry or fear, or feeling tense or on edge. While in children and adolescences the common symptoms may present themselves as restlessness, physical complaints such as stomach or headaches, difficulty separating from parents, poor concentration, behavioral outbursts, and irrational fears or worries.
My experience as a substance abuse counselor gave me insight on the formation of addictive behavior and compassion to those that have to fight daily for control. Many clients have heard, “just stop using” or “just stop doing it”. Unfortunately, it is not that easy, and I work hard to be supportive front as clients work toward recovery.
Addiction is a dependency on substances like drugs/alcohol or to a behavior that provides rewarding effects that motivates the action to reoccur, regardless of the consequence. The effects of addiction can be long lasting and impact many different aspects of daily living. It can take a toll on the physical body and mind, damage relationships, interfere with personal goals, and alter how we think and behavior. Breaking the cycle of addiction is anything but easy and most need professional help and support to begin the recovery process.
Undergoing a traumatic experience can be life altering. Trauma is an emotional and/or physical response to a profoundly distressing or overwhelming event and/or experience. Symptoms of trauma can range but the most common are flashbacks, hypervigilance, difficulty sleeping, and changes in weight, irritability, feelings of hopelessness, rapid heartbeat, muscle pain, increased isolation, and rapid mood swings. Untreated, the aftermath of trauma can put strains on relationships with others, impact, job performance, and overall life satisfaction.
Other areas of clinical focus
- Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
- Social skills training
- Coping skills training
- Personality disorders
- Gender or sexuality issues/concerns
- Eating disorders
- Mood disorders
- Relationship conflicts
- Behaviors outbursts
- National Certified Counselor (NCC)
Certifications and Supplement Training
- Certified Family Trauma Professional (CFTP)
- Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC)
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)