The decision to seek counseling
Making the choice to seek professional support for a concern you may or may not being managing effectively on your own is a decision that involves courage, trust, vulnerability and a willingness to face the facts of one's existence with greater honesty. I think that when a person asks for help, they are as close to their truth as they have ever been. So, congratulations on considering counseling as an investment for your "one wild and precious" life. Arriving at this point of curiosity and willingness means you have already done at least half of the work necessary for a change.
the counseling approach
My approach draws heavily from the humanistic traditions of gestalt and existential, with a focus on providing a warm and accepting environment where clients feel deeply heard and seen in the context of a safe relationship. Carl Rogers, a pioneer in the field of humanistic psychology, compared the process of counseling to farming, suggesting that people, much like plants, have the innate resources and capacities to live fully-functioning and healthy lives when particular environmental conditions are made available. I strive to relate to you as you are and where you are, not as your symptoms or diagnosis. While emotional and psychological sickness is very real, therapy is also a positive, valuing approach to living - 'you don't have to be sick to get better.'
I also espouse an eclectic approach that is responsive to client preferences and cultural backgrounds, incorporating feminism, mindfulness and cognitively-based frameworks, and creative practices. You will notice that much of the work we might do together focuses on present awareness, developing insight into oneself, integrating disowned aspects of self, including feelings and thoughts, reducing rigidity, empowerment, promoting resilience, understanding influences from the past, and deepening one's capacity for meaningful, authentic relationships.
Therapy, when it is at its best, is a complementary mix of spontaneity, hope, connection and support, empathy, deep listening, acceptance, trust, taking risks and self-directed movement toward meaningful growth.
Therapeutic Letter writing
I often tell clients that the most important work they will do in their lives is everything that takes place outside of therapy. That is where the difficult work of transformation can be nourished and maintained - and in many cases, the initial momentum of change can become stalled for various reasons. Providing encouragement and instilling hope in the journey are key therapist responsibilities related to successful client outcomes. In my research and practice, I have found the benefit of supporting clients and celebrating change efforts between counseling sessions. With the consent of the client, I will occasionally write a therapeutic response related to the work that took place in the therapy session. I have found in my work with clients that receiving written support outside of the session can greatly benefit client experiences and becomes a resource for healing. For more information on my research on the use of therapeutic letters please click on this link.
Walking and nature therapy
There are many physical and psychological health benefits connected to spending time in nature. I provide a therapeutic option of walking appointments that take place in natural settings, including the river and trail systems throughout the Boise area. These sessions may include breathwork, mindfulness practices, and therapeutic conversations and are oriented around supporting clients in learning effective methods for processing their feelings and concerns. While I have handpicked, confidential areas available for client sessions, I am happy to negotiate location possibilities with clients.
An important part of my professional identity is linked to the practice, training and supervision I have provided relative to the unique concerns of individuals and families who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex or Allies. My experiences range from developing trans-affirmative support groups for individuals and families, providing comprehensive trainings for physicians and mental health practitioners regarding the implementation of the Standards of Care (SOC), a comprehensive documents created by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) to assist and guide ethical decision making processes relative to the care of individuals who identify as gender nonconforming. I additionally developed coursework at the graduate level for teaching counseling students best practices when working with LGBTQIA clients. My work with this client population has included ongoing psychotherapy, family supportive counseling, psychoeducation, advocacy in schools and communities, and providing assessments and referral letters for hormone replacement therapy and/or sex reassignment surgery.
Metaphor of water
I see the counseling process very much like I see a stream of moving water. The water wants to move in a particular direction. In ways both natural and unnatural, the flow can be obstructed, causing a diversion or blockage. The therapeutic process is a relationship-centered excursion where both the counselor and the client(s) make contact with the terrain, closely assessing the impact of the events that have damaged and disrupted the flow of one’s life, and work together to create new possibilities for movement, including reframing the fallen or person-made debris, removing obstacles, and discovering alternatives. Together, we stand in the river of your feelings, thoughts, challenges, desires, dreams, wants, and needs, trying not to push them in any particular direction but being open to their flow. I think this is what is meant by the notion of change in the therapeutic sense: “facing the facts of being what you are, for that is what changes what you are” (Kierkegaard). In many cases, the outside problems, or debris, people bring with them to therapy are not necessarily extracted. They are understood, felt, and acknowledged in new and powerful ways, and people develop the skills and confidence to resiliently negotiate obstacles and to relate to self and others more honestly, such that suffering is reduced, meaningful growth becomes more accessible, and people discover more creative and nourishing methods for well-being.