I was raised in Nebraska where I received my Bachelor’s degree in counseling. My undergraduate experience developed a deep-seeded interest in relationship dynamics/interactions that led me to pursue a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Bethel Seminary in Minnesota. During graduate school I had many cross-cultural experiences which developed an appreciation for diversity both in my personal and professional life. While in Minnesota, I had experiences working with adults and adolescents with chemical dependency issues and their families. I also worked doing in-home therapy for families with children who had a variety of issues, including developmental disorders.
Now I’m happily residing in Illinois and am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). This doesn’t mean I just work with marriages and families, however, as I also work with individuals with a variety of needs. My focus as an LMFT means that I look at the bigger picture and pay attention to the system around the client and the impact it has made (or is making) on the situation at hand. I have experience working with clients (children, adolescents, and adults) in all formats (individuals, couples, and families). I strive to find strengths that each client brings and launch off of those points in doing our therapeutic work. I see us as a team, working together to get “unstuck” and to move forward.
I use a variety of theoretical approaches in my work, as I believe it is important for a therapist to be flexible to what works best for each client’s unique situation. I typically utilize cognitive-behavioral, narrative, emotion-focused, and solution-focused approaches.
Areas of Specialty
Couples Training for Marriage and Family Therapists includes extensive time spent learning about key elements to pay attention to in couples work. This often involves looking at each person’s family-of-origin and how that has impacted them in their current relationship. How we make sense of our earliest attachments impacts our most intimate relationships. Additionally, emotionally-focused therapy along with skills such as conflict resolution and active listening are areas I address in couples counseling. Common presenting issues may be with parenting differences, disagreement in finances, struggles with sex/intimacy, or increased generalized conflict.
Rather than treating one person within a family, my approach is to understand the entire family system. Often times the behaviors of one person which may appear to be problematic are actually cues to underlying issues that persist in the family system. These are best addressed in working with the whole family. Ideally this means I would see the entire family in session. Each session can vary with who is present (not everyone has to be able to commit to each session) depending on the needs we identify. I believe if we can work on the system, individuals experience more fulfilling and lasting results.
Other Areas of Clinical Focus
As a therapist with a Christian worldview, faith can be a part of our session if you choose it to be. This often looks different for each client. Figuring out how God fits into your storyline is something I enjoy and find very helpful for clients who consider their faith to be a resource for them. I have experience working with churches doing pastoral care as well as with faith-based agencies.
Sometimes adjusting can be hard. Whether it be adjusting to a new place or to a new role, figuring out what your identity is in that new place is often challenging. Typically, it is around nodes of transition in our lives that people seek counseling. Common transitions include dating/breakups, attending college, newlyweds, first time parents, empty nesters, death of a loved one, divorce, etc. Making sense of these changes and identifying the challenges/fears that may be present result in greater confidence and success to navigate these transitions smoothly.
Cross-cultural work is also a special interest of mine, whether it is with immigrants, missionaries, bi-cultural families, adoptive or foster families. Feeling like a part of the larger system around us while maintaining our unique beliefs is a difficult challenge that I feel is necessary to explore. Often times different generations within a family have their own understandings of how they relate to the cultures they are a part of, which can cause discord within the family unit. Therapy can be a safe place to be honest about losses and benefits that come across cultures. Besides what is listed above, I also see clients with identity/self-esteem issues, self-harming behaviors, suicidal ideation, depression and feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and developmental disorders.