Licensed Professional Counselor & Registered Art Therapist
My clinical orientation is primarily Transpersonal and Client-Centered with grounding in Jungian Analytical Psychology and Art Therapy. A Transpersonal perspective considers the whole person (body, mind, and spirit). It believes in our innate movement toward health and the wisdom for healing in each of us. Client-Centered Therapy believes that healing and growth are best supported in an authentic, empathetic, and non-judgmental environment. Jungian Analytical Psychology attempts to bring the unconscious into greater awareness and balance, often through symbolic language and imagery. From the Jungian perspective, development is seen as a life-long movement towards greater individuation. Art Therapy provides a non-verbal means of accessing and expressing feelings and beliefs, and gaining insight. I am strengths based in my focus. In addition, I bring awareness to gender, multicultural, and contextual issues relevant to clients’ lives.
I rely on a number of different therapeutic methods because each person and situation is unique. In addition to traditional talk therapy, my methods may include:
Click on the headings below to read more about each modality.
+ Art Therapy
Contrary to many people’s beliefs, art therapy is an effective modality for all ages, adults as well as for children. No artistic skills or experience are needed, only a willingness to experiment, as art therapy is not about making a pretty or skillful picture. Art therapy uses the art materials, the process, and the art product to safely explore feelings, beliefs, conflicts, relationships, and identity. Art therapists do not “interpret” the artwork produced, as the client is the only one who can determine what it has to say. Rather, we look at and process the work together, respectfully and with curiosity, by observing what we see, and by asking questions. Because art making also improves focus, fine motor skills, functionality, and the ability to verbalize, it can be an especially effective modality for those who have suffered a stroke or brain injury.
Brainspotting is helpful in addressing a variety of therapeutic issues, including trauma, depression, anxiety, childhood abuse and neglect, phobias, stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and addictions.
Brainspotting has been described as “a neurobiological tool” that “supports the healing relationship”. This modality uses the visual field to locate and access the area of a person’s brain linked to a particular experience or issue, called a “brain spot”. It is believed that “Brainspotting taps into the body’s natural self-scanning and self healing abilities”.
The brain spot, or area of greatest activation, can be identified in a number of ways. The therapist may observe reflexive movements in the client when they look at a given point, such as rapid eye blinks, eye wobbles, or other types of unconscious responses. This brain spot is called an “Outside Window”. Conversely, the “Inside Window” is a brain spot identified by the client’s felt sense of the greatest charge. A third way to identify a brain spot is when the therapist notices the client looking at a particular spot in the room while talking about a charged issue. This is called a “Gaze Spot”.
After the client and therapist identify a brain spot, the client is asked to maintain their focus on that spot while thinking about the issue. This process may be deepened and enhanced with the use of bilateral sound through headphones. The therapist’s job is to support and follow the client’s own natural process by asking the person what they notice in their mind and in their body. Client’s report on thoughts, images, memories, and body sensations linked to the brain spot. A natural unraveling process occurs with Brainspotting, that reconciles emotional and physiological symptoms, releasing “frozen primitive survival modes”, and “restoring homeostasis”.
Brainspotting has an added advantage of being easily integrated with other healing modalities, such as Art Therapy. For example, when a client makes an emotionally charged art image, the client can be asked to hold their gaze on the most activating spot in the image, and then follow their own internal process. There may be multiple gaze spots within a single art image, maximizing the benefit of the art intervention. Additionally, resource art images, such as a safe or peaceful place may be used as brain spots to enhance a client’s sense of safety and wellbeing, further grounding and containing the process.
+ Symbol, Metaphor, and Dream Work
As part of the therapeutic process, clients often bring dream material to therapy. Dreams speak to us in the metaphorical language of symbols. Whether we are working with dream imagery or spontaneous art images, our symbols can be explored in depth using personal associations and amplification to bring the unconscious into greater awareness. Dreams offer a wealth of information about our inner experience and can become a trusted source of guidance.
We all dream, even though we may not always recall our dreams. In working with dreams it is helpful to keep a dream journal. In addition to capturing dream details that may otherwise be forgotten, it is a way to invite dreams in for greater self-understanding.
+ Sandtray Work
In sandtray work, clients are invited to intuitively choose figures, objects and natural elements, and to arrange them in the sandtray, to create a 3-dimensional picture or to tell a story. We then process the resulting image as we would any other art product: looking at arrangement, content, symbols, relationships, and use of space.
Although I have some training in sandtray work, I am not a credentialed Sandplay Therapist. If you would like to learn more about Sandplay Therapy or work with a credentialed Sandplay Therapist, please see www.sandplaytherapy.org.
+ Guided Imagery and Visualizations
Guided imagery and visualizations use the client’s imagination to access information, guidance, or inner resources. Typically the client is brought to a relaxed state using mindfulness and breath work, and then a visualization script is used to stimulate the client’s own imagery.
+ Mindfulness Practices
While mindfulness has its origins in Buddhist teachings, the practice of mindfulness doesn’t have to be religious. Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment, of observing our physical sensations, emotions and thoughts, as they are, without judgment. Our thoughts and feelings about the past or worries about the future create much of our suffering. In mindfulness practice we observe what is happening now and let it go. Paradoxically, when we accept ourselves as we are, with kindness and compassion, then it is possible to change.
I will provide instruction to clients who are interested in a meditation practice. In addition, I teach clients to use breath work, mindfulness and grounding techniques to manage stress, pain, and overwhelm.
+ Cognitive and Behavioral Practices
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy looks at replacing maladaptive thinking, feeling, and behavioral patterns with more helpful strategies. Clients may be taught to observe and record their behavior or thought patterns, to reality test their assumptions and beliefs, to identify healthy vs. unhealthy coping strategies, and to monitor whether self-talk is helpful or hurtful. Healthier strategies can then be identified and put into practice.
+ EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
EMDR is useful for trauma processing, resourcing, performance anxiety, and future script work.
EMDR was developed by a psychologist, Francine Shapiro, in 1987. It is an empowering tool for clearing blocks or stuck places that get in the way of our relationships, work, and general well-being. When something happens in our lives, big or small, that we are unable to process and we are left feeling distressed with symptoms that won’t go away, that is considered to be a trauma response. EMDR allows the trauma response to safely move to a natural resolution, so that we are no longer left with a charge around that experience. It does not remove the memory, but with the charge cleared, we are able to respond differently.
When we experience an upsetting event or trauma it can get locked in the nervous system, impacting our current life functioning. The use of eye movements and other bilateral stimulation used in EMDR seems to unlock the nervous system, allowing us to fully process the experience. EMDR can access memory networks to process our thoughts, beliefs, emotions, body sensations, and other sensory input at the time of the experience, and allows the integration of new, more adaptive information. It also accesses and clears similar linked experiences in our past. With EMDR your own brain does the healing work, and you are in control at all times. My job is to be your guide and to provide support, safety, and containment throughout the work. However, EMDR is not an appropriate modality for everyone and there is preparation work prior to beginning the work.
Psycho-education is educational information provided to the client to assist in their understanding of the clinical issues they are experiencing. An example might be a FAQ sheet on depression.
Biblio-therapy is reading recommendations that the therapist suggests to a client as potentially helpful. This is offered as an option to maximize therapy, and is not required “homework”.
In The Process of Counseling and Therapy (2002), authors Moursund and Kenny report that the single most important element in the healing process is the therapeutic relationship regardless of therapeutic orientation or modalities used. Safety and trust are essential to the work. And the therapist’s most important tool is his or her own personhood. With this in mind, I offer a free first session to see if we are a good fit. This gives the client an opportunity to test out the office environment and what it might be like to work with me. If we decide to work together, the first few sessions will be spent gathering a history, identifying problems and issues to address, and developing goals for therapy.
As a therapist, I have learned to respect and trust my clients’ innate wisdom and natural movement towards health. Therefore, our work together will be a collaborative process in which we access and co-create what is needed for healing to take place within the safety of the therapeutic relationship.
As an artist, I have always benefited from my ability to use art making as a means to greater self-understanding, and to gain greater clarity and knowledge about the world and my relationships. I have experienced the power and containment of art making as a therapeutic release, as vehicle for problem solving, and to make meaning of my life. As an art therapist I strive to teach clients these same skills.
Choice is essential to empowerment and healing. For this reason, you are always given choice in the work we do together. While I may encourage a client to use art making as a part of our therapy work, it is never required. I do not ask clients to use any modality or intervention they are uncomfortable using.
I believe that the office environment plays a meaningful role in a client’s sense of comfort and safety. I have been strongly influenced by the words of Chogyam Trungpa in Becoming a Full Human Being, taken from Awakening the Heart by John Welwood (1983).
“It is important for the therapist to create an atmosphere that makes people feel welcome. That attitude should infuse the whole environment… If you treat your patients like princes or princesses in the fullest sense… they may begin to appreciate their bodies, their strength, and their existence as a whole.”
I have taken this statement to heart in the space I have created and in the comfort and care I provide.