I was raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and currently reside in Lakewood, Illinois. I earned my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology at Aurora University, with a specialization in Biopsychology and a minor in Physiological Science. My interests in psychology began when I was in high school, where I had the opportunity to become involved with international volunteer work. In college, my passion for psychology continued to grow as I had an extremely positive personal therapeutic experience. The impact of this experience and the belief that we all have tendencies to grow and move towards living a healthy and meaningful life, led to my commitment for making a positive difference in individuals’ lives.
I received my Master’s of Arts Degree in Clinical Psychology from Argosy University/Illinois School of Professional Psychology in 2011 and my Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology in 2016. While in my masters program, the majority of my clinical work focused on treating clients struggling from depression, anxiety, and severe mental illness in a variety of settings including an inpatient psychiatric hospital, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient programs at a behavioral health hospital. In this setting, I also gained experience providing crisis intervention to individuals with self-injurious behaviors and suicidal ideation. I helped my clients learn how to regulate their emotions and develop positive coping techniques for dealing with internal conflicts that have led to unhealthy relationships.
I have continuously worked with adults in an individual, group, and couples therapy context. I have generalized training across many areas of psychology including depression, anxiety, PTSD/trauma, eating disorders, perinatal mood disorders, attachment, relationship issues, emotional regulation, and co-occurring medical complications including obesity.
I am licensed in Illinois as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. I have been a part of LivingRite since 2015 and am currently the Director of Clinical Training. I have advanced supervised clinical training through level 2 in Emotion-Focused Therapy. Empathy, acceptance, and genuineness are three qualities that I believe are the foundation for building a trusting and supportive therapeutic relationship. My therapeutic approach is integrative as I implement emotion-focused, cognitive-behavioral, attachment, and psychodynamic therapies. I also use experiential techniques to help you work through painful emotions, identify self-criticism, learn how to engage in self-soothing, break unhealthy relationship patterns, and resolve any unfinished business. My therapeutic method and treatment interventions are uniquely tailored to you depending on your presenting problem, life history, and moment-by-moment processes.
Areas of Specialty
I have completed advanced clinical training through Level 3 in Gottman’s Method for Couples Therapy. Gottman’s Method for couples therapy is a research-based approach to help couples build stronger friendship, share appreciation and respect, learn how to manage conflict, develop a positive approach to problem-solving, and increase closeness and intimacy. I am certified in Gottman’s Bringing Baby Home, which is an educator program to help you and/or your partner transition to- or become acclimated to parenting, form a secure attachment pattern with your baby and your partner, learn emotion-coaching parenting and attachment parenting techniques, and enhance marital satisfaction after baby arrives.
I also have advanced clinical training in Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy. My curiosity to understand marital satisfaction and emotion regulation in couples led me to focus my doctoral research on exploring expressions of tenderness from an emotion-focused perspective. Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy is an evidence-based treatment approach that focuses on the couples’ present experience and their negative patterns of interactions, while placing emotions at the clinical forefront of therapy. I will work with how you and your partner respond and react emotionally to each other’s underlying needs and help create new ways of interacting in order to strengthen and validate attachment and emotional bonds. I am a member of LivingRite’s Couple and Family Specialty Team.
Women’s Health Issues
Perinatal Mood and Anxiety: Another specialty of mine is in the area of women’s health, with focus in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, birth trauma, and pregnancy loss and infertility. Perinatal depression and anxiety often coincide and many of the symptoms overlap. The causes of perinatal depression and anxiety include hormonal, biochemical, environmental, psychological, and genetic factors. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can occur as women try to control their emotions while attending to their baby, which can manifest into difficulties with bonding and attachment. I have completed a certificate training for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders through Postpartum Support International (PSI). PSI is an evidenced-based training, recognized internationally, to help moms process emotional and physical changes that accompany childbirth and decrease clinical symptoms of perinatal depression and anxiety. I am a member of LivingRite’s Women Specialty Team.
Birth Trauma: I also have advanced clinical training in perinatal and birth trauma. Research has shown that approximately one in three women experience some type of birth trauma. Giving birth can be a frightening experience for some women, whether it is due to a drop in baby’s heart rate, an emergency caesarean, a medical intervention during birth, or your baby suffered injuries during the birthing process, or the feeling of not being cared during labor and delivery. These experiences can lead to trauma symptoms including heightened anxiety, flashbacks, painful subjective experience, avoidance and hypervigilance. Birth trauma, especially if left untreated, can lead to difficulty with attachment and bonding with your baby and even your partner. This type of trauma can also have a detrimental effect on the development of emotion regulation capacities. Often, individuals learn to rely on avoidance to cope with the painful, powerful, and confusing emotions. Chronic avoidance is associated with several psychological issues including interpersonal difficulties. Avoidance of traumatic events can also perpetuate trauma symptoms. I believe that an important part of therapy in working with birth trauma is the emotional processing of traumatic memories; exploring self-related difficulties, such as fear and shame, as well as associated cognitions and core beliefs about yourself and your birthing related experience.
Perinatal loss and infertility: Pregnancy loss and infertility is devastating and an extremely vulnerable time for women. This time can also be taxing on the couples’ relationship. Women often struggle with both physical and emotional pain that is overwhelming. Guilt, fear, anger, and shame are common emotions to women and couples experiencing miscarriages and infertility. In my approach, I will work with you to make sense of your emotions and experience through awareness, expression, regulation, reflection, and transformation. I further believe it is important to attend closely to your attachment histories and significant life events to be able to identify patterns in relationships and behaviors with yourself and significant other. I am certified through Resolve Through Sharing, which is a not-for-profit organization that provides evidenced-based treatment to bereavement care for perinatal and newborn loss.
My interest in eating disorders began during my early training as I led a pre-operative class for individuals pursing weight-loss surgery, as well as co-leading a monthly eating disorder support group with a registered dietician.
Eating disorders are serious health conditions, both psychologically and physically. Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder often represent a way of coping with problems of attachment, identity, and control. Often, we use food to cope with painful emotions. Food can also be a way to manage unhealthy body image. An important part of therapy is to develop a healthy relationship with food, regardless of whether you struggle with food restriction, binging, or compulsive overeating. I work with you to help you get to the core of painful emotions and identify core beliefs about yourself, to improve disordered eating behaviors, and to increase body satisfaction and self-esteem.
Depression is a complex phenomenon, causing disturbances in different levels of functioning. With depression, there is often an increase in sadness, fear, shame, anger, and guilt that leaves you feeling worthless, hopeless, and helpless. In working with depression, I work with you to resolve affective difficulties such as self-criticism, disappointments in relationships, and unfinished business. In therapy, I work with you to enhance emotional processing which involves not only helping you to make sense of your emotions but also to accept painful emotions that keep you “stuck” and influence how you feel, think, and interact with others.
I help encourage you to develop adaptive ways of coping with vulnerable feelings and to promote self-acceptance. I help you to be able to differentiate between past and present events and identify emotionally based needs in order to generate a new meaning, facilitate healthy resolution of problematic experiences, and change interpersonal interactions.