MY AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION INCLUDE:
TELEHEALTH/PHONE & ONLINE COUNSELING
I provide secure, confidential and convenient Telehealth sessions for individuals and couples residing in : Missouri, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah. (Virginia & North Carolina to be added in 2021.).
Telehealth has proven to be as effective as in-person counseling and many clients appreciate the convenience of being able to meet with me from the privacy of their own home, from their office, in their car, while traveling away from home, or any other place of their choosing. The only requirement is a mobile or desktop device with wireless or cellular service, and a microphone (camera is optional). No apps or programs are necessary for the client to download; all sessions are conducted on secure, HIPAA-compliant version of Zoom.
COUPLES COUNSELING/MARRIAGE COUNSELING
Couples seek counseling when they are struggling to find hope and the possibility of change in the face of deeply painful and difficult issues, ranging from constant arguing to aching silence, feeling alone within the relationship, lacking physical or emotional intimacy, grappling with infidelity, alcohol, drug and/ or sexual addictions or compulsive behavior, financial problems and secrets, difficult family members and challenging children, and more. Thirty years of working with couples around such issues has given me a deep toolbox for addressing the variety of reasons driving couples to seek counseling, often as a "last resort". Frequently couples tell me that I am not the first therapist they have seen for help, and some have been told by other therapists that they are "beyond help" and "should get a divorce". I have yet to see a couple in my 30 years of doing couples work whom I felt was beyond help, and to whom I could not offer hope and a path forward.
HOW I WORK WITH COUPLES:
In the first session, I will gather a brief history of your relationship and the challenges you have had.
My role is not to assign "blame" or be a referee, and in fact I will immediately move your conversations from talking "at" each other to deeply listening and understanding one another with greater compassion. Once each of you feels truly understood AND validated, you can shift into finding workable solutions together. It's my job to quickly get you there, beginning with the very first session.
It is normal to feel unsure, skeptical or even negative about coming to counseling with your partner. When we have been stuck, unhappy, in pain or have gotten to the point of "I've stopped caring", it can feel impossible to believe that trust, passion and intimacy can be rekindled.
Yet I have been honored to witness time and again the remarkable reconnection and healing that couples achieve with one another. Most couples feel encouraged from the first session.
In my experience, what works best is a minimum of six 90-minute sessions to establish momentum and master the basic tools for happier connection.
While I cannot guarantee outcomes, I can promise to give you concepts and skills that, when consistently applied, will keep you on a successful path forward!
Deciding to get married is an exciting moment, followed by making many decisions about The Big Day!! Along with planning for the wedding, an excellent investment of time and money is to plan for the days, months and years after the wedding. The Rest of Your Life is a long time, and discussing important topics like Sex, Finances, Children, Religion & Spirituality, and Our Families can help clarify each other's feelings, expectations, needs and hopes with compassion and without judgment.
Building a Couples' Toolbox of Relationship Skills for communication, conflict resolution, and discussing big topics will enable you to avoid many of the common pitfalls that can lead to unhappiness and separation or divorce.
Premarital counseling is 3 sessions of 60-90 minutes duration.
It is often the case that one or both partners may be ambivalent about whether or not they want the relationship to continue. In these cases I help the individuals discern whether they wish to pursue couples work or look at separation/divorce.
Discernment Counseling is 1 to 3 sessions of 90 minutes, in which I meet with each person individually and then together, and each session is focused specifically on helping those who are unsure gain clarity about their desire to work on or end the relationship.
Deciding whether or not to divorce is often an agonizing, protracted process, spanning years or even decades. Most people take their wedding vows seriously and feel a commitment to the marriage "for better or worse," even when things have been "worse" for years. Fear of how divorce will affect children, teens and young adults is a huge consideration for parents. Concerns about financial stability moving forward can loom large, especially if one partner has been the primary breadwinner. How families and friends will react and with whom one will have social suppport after the divorce can also be anxiety-producing. These are all concerns that we can address in counseling, whether you come as an individual, as a couple, or both,
If you determine that separation and/or divorce is right for you, we can determine together how to help everyone involved move forward in the best possible way. Many couples are relieved to learn that divorce does not need to lead to fighting and lengthy, expensive legal battles. Mediation and cooperative or "collaborative" divorces are increasingly common and help couples separate their lives with integrity, compassion and help parents maintain their ability to co-parent cooperatively and to share family life cycle events - like graduations and weddings - with civility and enjoyment. Divorce counseling helps individuals and couples thoughtfully and respectfully separate their lives and keeps the focus on the future rather than a continuation of what did not work well in the past. If you are considering divorce, counseling can be an excellent investment in a happier future for all concerned!
I am a trained Divorce Coach and a member in good standing of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. IACP professionals are specially trained Attorneys, Mental Health professionals and Financial professionals who help married couples use the Collaborative Divorce Process to divorce with integrity, cooperatively and with an agreement created by the couple in cooperation with their Divorce Team, that works for each of the spouses and for their entire family moving forward.
Parenting and Step-parenting can be complicated, with many competing needs and individuals (the exes, your own families of origin, the kids, the in laws) involved. I can help you stay on the same page as partners while navigating the "us" part of being a blended family!
The loss of a loved one or important relationship can create a well of sadness leading to depression, and feel overwhelming. I can be both a witness and guide to moving through the loss of a loved one through death, separation or divorce.
No pain compares to the discovery that your partner has been unfaithful. The shock and unreality is soon replaced by grief, sadness, anger and even rage. Partners who discover infidelity have suffered what some describe as their "personal 9/11". I am specially trained to work with individuals experiencing Betrayal Trauma, and to help couples repair after infidelity from affairs, and sex and porn addictions.
Anxiety & Depression
TREATMENT FOR ANXIETY
Anxiety is one of the most common reasons clients seek help. From obsessive rumination about the past or worry about the future, to full-blown panic attacks, anxiety causes mental and emotional suffering, and promotes inflammation and disease in the body. Recognizing anxiety as a pre-programmed survival skill of the body - preparing us for “fight or flight” - helps remove judgement about feeling anxious. The mind is hard-wired to continually scan the environment for things that could be harmful, leading to thoughts such as, “What if THAT happens??!!!” Sometimes this is useful for avoiding danger, but more often anxiety just makes it hard to sleep, have constructive conversations with loved ones and to function well in work and daily life.
While medication can certainly ease anxiety, and I sometimes encourage clients to speak with their primary care physician or a psychiatrist regarding medication, it is not a “cure” for anxiety and does not address the thoughts that drive anxiety. I teach clients how to better manage thoughts and emotions with research-based techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness Practice. Clients learn to notice anxious thoughts and experience a greater sense of calm and control. Emotions and behavior become less reactive or over-reactive. The roller coaster of anxiety begins to slow down and level out. Our human predisposition to anxiety may be “hard-wired” but the good news is, being an emotional slave to our nature is not our destiny!
TREATMENT FOR DEPRESSION
Depression symptoms can vary from feeling frequently tearful or sad, irritable or angry, to being suicidal. Numerous physical symptoms can also be signs of depression, including loss of or increased appetite with unintended weight gain or loss, difficulty going to or staying asleep, and increased sensations of restlessness or pain in the body. When depressed, people often lose interest in things they would normally enjoy, such as socializing with friends and hobbies. Normal activities and work can feel like they take so much effort that there is nothing left over for the things and people that used to matter.
It is not unusual for someone to experience depression following a loss of a loved one or a relationship, but when depression persists and is present for more hours of the day and days of the week than not and/or is interfering with the ability to function normally in work and home life, then seeking relief from a licensed health care professional makes sense.
Antidepressant medications can be very effective in relieving the symptoms of depression, and are often a good addition to talk therapy. However, talk therapy will address the situational, cognitive and behavioral contributions to depression. Put a different way, therapy can help you think and act in ways that will not only help you feel better, but will also help rewire your brain. A depressed brain focuses on negative thoughts that begin to seem "real," such as, "I feel hopeless, so things must be hopeless." Changing thoughts to ones that are reality-based and more accurate - "I am sad about the end of that relationship, but my sadness is temporary." - not only generates more positive feelings, it also changes the brain so that it notices and focuses on more positive, accurate things. This is Cognitive Therapy. As part of brain rewiring, mindfulness and meditation training also can greatly benefit people with depression.
Managing the situations and relationships that are triggering depressed thoughts and feelings is another aspect of treating depression. Life presents challenges for everyone, but sometimes the challenges are big enough or happen all at one time and we feel overwhelmed. Addressing the situations and dysfunction in relationships that trigger depression is the focus of Behavioral Therapy.
As a Licensed Psychologist trained in CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I help clients address both the cognitive and behavioral aspects of their depression, whether or not they choose to also use antidepressants. These therapeutic approaches to alleviating depression are effective for almost everyone with depression that is not due to underlying medical conditions or head trauma. No one needs to suffer with depression - it can be treated and in many cases cured with the right therapeutic approach!
I will receive you and your loved ones with compassion and respect, and without judgment. I can offer insight into what has created feelings of hurt, resentment, frustration and being stuck,and how to shift relationships and behavior into more productive modes. No hurt is too great to be lessened. I can help you repair and renew your relationship, no matter how broken. My goal is to help you meet your needs for harmony in your relationships and a sense of inner peace! There are guidelines and tools to help you have respectful conflict that will help you grow as a couple or family!
Give yourself the gift of tips and tools to make your Happily Ever After a reality!