I am glad that you want to know more about who I am. Choosing to work with a therapist is as much about connection, "click", and chemistry as is choosing a spouse. Not every therapist is for every patient. People find me to be warm, safe, compassionate, humorous, and challenging in a straightforward way. I am first a person, and secondarily a professional. I believe that therapy is a human process and very much about the relationship between myself and my patients.
I work collaboratively, which essentially means that while I have a sense of direction and ideas about how to get you from point A to point B, I welcome your active direction of the process of therapy on a session-by-session basis. I will challenge you. Warmly and safely, of course. I may recommend homework, I may not. I may bring puppies to our sessions, if you like, as I breed cavalier king charles spaniels and cavapoos in my "spare" time. I do things to take care of myself (gardening, listening to music, travelling, spending time with friends and family) and I will encourage you to have balance in your life as well.
I have extensive knowledge and personal experience of family life with autism and all that it brings. It is hard on every area of your life, as it is mine. I have three teenagers with varying degrees of autism and related disabilities, and I know the statistics and challenges about how hard autism is on marriages, on siblings, and career progress. I live the realities of interacting with a world who, while becoming more aware of autism, is largely ignorant about living with autism. I know how to find resources and have gotten pretty savy about how to make it all happen as a single mom in my special family. I have helped many families who have been newly diagnosed as well as those who have been living with the disability since long before Early Intervention programs existed. I get it. And if you need someone who just gets it, come see me.
In addition to being a therapist, I occasionally speak to groups. I presented at the 2006 Trinity International University Bioethics Conference on of my passions: Faith Community and the Cognitively Disabled. In 2004, I traveled to Jakarta and Yogyakarta, Indonesia to teach about autism and consult at the Kyriakon School for Disabled Children. My years as a children's and youth pastor, as well as my missions trips, have given me compassion and commitment to serve those in ministry whether in churches or on the mission field.
As far as education, I earned my B.A. in Psychology and Youth Ministry from Trinity International University in 1990. After holding various church ministry positions and establishing my family, I went back to graduate school as a mother of three young children (seriously!!!) and earned two Master's Degrees in 2005 from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. One Master's is in Counseling Psychology and the other is in Religion/Practical Theology. I got to do a lot of research and writing about faith community and identity formation. Prior to grad school, I completed training in Biblical Prayer Counseling through Elijah House Ministries, and hold a certificate in Prayer Counseling. In the past few years, I've wrestled with the desire to get a PhD or PsyD and wasted a bit of money towards that end. It just hasn't been the right time, with my children and what they need from me. Perhaps in a few years. I've heard about an "empty nest" and daydream about how I will fill my days then. I may go back to school, or I may just take up pottery and quilting and have a fabulous garden.
Because I love to learn and want to expand the resources and expertise I have in order to help my patients, I continue to get training in various areas of therapy. I received extensive training in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) from both the founder Sue Johnson, and local practitioners and teachers in the San Diego area. Other areas of continued training have been in sexual addiction, non-directive play therapy, personality disorders, and creative writing in the therapy process. Currently I am working toward certification in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), a powerful treatment for trauma.
Here's the blah blah part: I hold a membership in CAMFT (California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists), EMDRIA (EMDR International Association), and the APA (American Psychological Association). I am working toward a secondary license as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) and hope to have that completed later this year. I also won an award from my graduate school, TEDS, called the Mephibosheth Award, for people who maintain excellency in ministry while contending with disabiity.
If you are still reading this far into my bio, you must be a curious person. I like that. Perhaps we'd fit well as therapist and patient!