How it started...
I have always loved listening to my friends and family tell their stories. I noticed patterns, themes, and meaning, which were sometimes intensely painful and stifling, and, sometimes hopeful and empowering. I noticed that it wasn't the amount of challenge a person faced that informed their view of themselves. Rather, it was the view of themselves that determined how they faced those challenges. I noticed that two people would tell the same story in a completely different way with a completely different meaning. I found that if you listen long enough, you could understand how a person connects the dots in their life.
I majored in psychology in college, and while pursuing that degree, I decided to next seek a Master's degree in counseling. The question that gave me the greatest pause of my career was do I take the "community counseling" (individual counseling) track or the "marital, couples, and family counseling" track? This is a difficult question, because if you have never done either and haven't studied counseling theories yet, how would you know? I trusted my gut and chose the marital, couples, and family track. It was the longer track, since it required learning about the general history, theories, and assessments of both individual counseling and family counseling, but it was the right choice. I realized that choosing to do individual work or couples and family work is less of a choice and more of an understanding of how you view the world. Are you healing a person or are you healing a system? I want to heal the system. Of course the person with trauma needs healing; however, doesn't someone also need to heal the family system that creates, maintains, neglects, and, even sometimes, encourages the trauma?
My Approach to Therapy
My approach to therapy is ever evolving. However, there are some values that are essential to my practice that inform my decision-making process always:
- I respect your autonomy and the right you have to make your own decisions. I do not judge you for making those decisions, even if the behaviors are harmful to yourself or someone else or counter to our goals.
- I will keep your best interest in mind for all of my decisions, and I will honor the trust you've given me by being as honest as possible with you. This does not mean that you will always like my decisions or suggestions or that every decision or suggestion will make you happy. However, my goal is to keep your safety and health as the top priority.
- I do not seek to endorse any one way of living life. If your most embodied, authentic self feels empowered by a practice or behavior, and it does not harm another person, I will not ask you to change it. If it is a problem for you, we can work on it. If it's not, we will leave it alone. I neither condemn nor condone monogamous or non-monogamous relationships, sexual practices, sexual orientations, gender expressions, religious and spiritual practices, career choices, diet and exercise choices, body modifications, or use of substances.
- I condemn only those behaviors that are unethical or nonconsensual. These are usually harmful in some clear way. "Harm to self or others" does not include the experience of discomfort, disappointment, anger, or fear. These are normal emotions that we need to be equipped to handle or else work towards doing so.
- I will do my best to do what I say I will do. I will act with intention in our relationship.
- I will never require anything from you outside of the agreed upon payment for my services. I may decide to discontinue our therapeutic relationship if I feel it is not serving you. Showing a disrespect for the therapist or frequently cancelling sessions are indicators that the therapeutic relationship may not be serving you.
- I utilize best practices in therapy. These are practices that have been shown to be effective in treatment and have been subject to scientific and professional scrutiny.
- I have infinite patience with clients. I will work with you to meet your goals for as long as it takes to do so. I will call attention to themes in regression and resistance, and sometimes it may be appropriate to refer you to another counselor if we feel our work isn't progressing and another counselor's approach may be useful. I will also not encourage a continuation of our relationship in lieu of you creating a supportive system in your own life. I do not feel it is a responsible practice for me to be your only source of support. I believe this sort of therapeutic relationship is not therapeutic at all. I do not have a need to be needed. I enjoy the connection I have with my clients, and we often laugh and joke together. I am often moved to tears by a client. This is an important relationship, and it's temporality does not diminish that.
- My approach to therapy is systemic and constructivist. Systemic means that I believe we are heavily influenced by the systems we are in, so problems are not just residing in the individual, rather they are a symptom of a more systemic issue. This does not in any way imply that we are shifting the responsibility for change to someone else. That removes power from the individual completely. The constructivist part means that I help the client use what personal power they have to make choices based on what feels healthy to them. I help them shed the rigid views of who they are that have been imposed upon them by others and society. The goal is to define what healthy roles in relationships would look like. Through this, clients realize that they do have some influence on the system, and change can begin.
- Couples Therapy Approach
In couples therapy, I use Gottman Method Couples Therapy to guide my work. I love this method because it allows the integration of any counseling theory and can treat a variety of issues the couple may present. It is based on the work and research of John and Julie Gottman over the last 40 years, as well as the work of many other researchers in the field of relationships. I also appreciate how the model structures work with couples enough to provide an understanding of where they are going and what they are doing, while also leaving the space for deep reflection and emotional connection. I want my couples to stop talking about how they are oppressed by each other and recognize the power they have in the relationship to make it what they want. You can learn more about Gottman Method Couples Therapy here.
Degrees, Licenses, and Certifications
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (#201935)
Gottman Method Couples Therapy Level 3 Trained
Master of Arts, Texas State University in Professional Counseling with a concentration in Marital, Couples, and Family Counseling
Bachelor of Science, McNeese State University in Psychology
Private practitioner since 2012, specializing in marriage and couples counseling and counseling LGBTQIA community.
Bereavement group facilitator for the Children's Grief Program at Hope Hospice in New Braunfels since 2011.
Counselor Intern at Connections, Individual and Family Services, Mountain Valley Middle School, and River Bend Counseling, all in the New Braunfels area.