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M.A., M.S., LMFT
Life can be very difficult at times. Having an objective person to talk to, who is safe and will hold your confidences, can help you find your way through some of life’s obstacles. My passion as a therapist is to partner with clients as they work through struggles, heal from painful experiences, and grow stronger in the process.
Philosophy and Therapeutic Approach
I have a warm, kind and humorous style, and strive to foster hope and change. One of my beliefs is that we all are more alike than different—I focus on strengths, less on weaknesses and differences and do my best to avoid pathologizing those whom I serve. I believe therapy provides a sacred place to feel safe and express feelings in a confidential setting. God created us to have feelings and remains with us as we struggle.
Therapy can help us to connect and love others in healthy ways. It is through therapy that one can experience hope and motivation for change. St. Irenaeus, the great 2nd century theologian (125-200 A.D.) stated, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” Therapy can help you to live life more fully, with purpose and courage.
Through my work, I seek to help individuals, couples and families find practical solutions to manage life’s challenges through the blending of psychological understanding with sound Christian principles. I strongly believe humanity was created to live deeply meaningful lives; however, many have been raised in damaging or unhealthy environments where they did not learn some of the basic life skills needed to navigate the difficult times.
Since my formal training is in Marriage and Family Therapy, I practice a specific brand of relational therapy. I draw from a variety of multi-systemic, strengths based therapy techniques to meet the specific needs of the clients I serve. A firm believer that the source of a problem is rarely about one individual, I can offer objectivity and a perspective to see the “bigger picture” of one’s family of origin and environment. Ultimately, my desire is to help clients develop safe, fulfilling and enriched relationships in their everyday lives.
What to Expect during Therapy
Together we will explore areas that are making life difficult and establish your goals for improvement. We will talk about your thoughts and feelings, build on strengths and values, explore strategies that have worked in the past, discuss approaches that may work now and in the future, and make your faith an essential part of the process.
One of my fundamental beliefs is that most of the “work” of therapy occurs outside of the therapy office. You may be asked to do “homework”—reading, having intentional discussions with significant others, practicing techniques and skills discussed and taught during sessions, tracking and rating behaviors, and scheduling “dates” or outings with your spouse, partner or other important people in your life. Homework assignments have the added benefit of speeding up the change process.
Benefits and Risks of Therapy
There are many benefits from engaging in the therapy process. These include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Relief from distressing symptoms (depression, anxiety, abuse, conflictual relationships, dependencies, disturbances of eating, grief/loss, transitions, etc.)
- Improved emotional well being
- Learning new approaches to problem solving and decision making
- More satisfying interpersonal relationships and intimacy
- Increased overall quality of life
- Understanding relationship patterns
- Finding new ways of coping and growing
- Improving communication skills
- Clarifying who you are and what you want out of life
In general there’s little risk during therapy, but it is important to know that some risks may occur. Any type of change and growth involves taking risks. You may feel emotionally uncomfortable or experience stress when feelings are explored or are intensified, or as you work through conflict. People that you care about may not be comfortable with the new choices you begin to make. The phrase that sometimes “things get worse before they get better” can be true in therapy. This may leave you with feeling that problems have actually increased after the start of our work together. However, what you learn in therapy will help you manage any discomfort that may arise. Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Opportunities for growth and change exist in the middle of the “work” of therapy. Things do get better!
A final risk may be that you spend your time and money in therapy and not see improvement. The best protection against this risk is if you make a commitment to talk directly with me if therapy is, in any way, not meeting your goals. Such directness is welcomed by me and may be critical for you to get the benefits you want from our work together.
Professional Qualifications and Experience
I have specific training in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT). I earned a Master of Arts Degree in MFT from Northwest Christian University in Eugene, OR in 1991. In addition, I earned a Master of Science Degree in Leisure Studies and Services (Outdoor and Therapeutic Recreation) from the University of Oregon (1987). My Bachelor’s Degree is from the University of Missouri-Columbia (1981, Recreation and Park Administration).
Prior to working with Cornerstone Christian Counseling, I worked for ten years with Columbia Public Schools in Columbia, MO as a Crisis/Outreach Counselor. While living in Columbia, I also taught graduate courses in Marriage and Family Therapy at Stephens College (2007-2011). I was employed as an in-home family therapist with the Arthur Center in Mexico, MO from 1999-2001. Earlier in my career and before obtaining my Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, I worked for ten years as a Recreation Therapist for Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene, OR—five of those years in Physical Rehabilitation and five in In-Patient Psychiatry. My work in various settings—clinical, community, educational and home based therapy services—has given me exposure to working with a wide range of individuals, couples and families, who have experienced a wide range of emotional, spiritual and psychological issues.
Personal Life & Interests
I married my husband Kirk in 2011 and moved to Colorado from Missouri at that time. I have been blessed in becoming a part of a blended family. Madison and McKinley, my stepchildren, keep me updated on popular culture, beat me at board games and teach me so much about what life is like for a young adult. My husband is the former Founder and Executive Director of Family Time Training.
Since retiring from Family Time Training, Kirk founded a new ministry, Emmaus Life Ministries, and when I am not working with Cornerstone, he and I are involved in “community pastoring” work through Emmaus Life. Kirk serves on several non-profit boards, mentors men and leads a small group in our home. We also began volunteering as camp pastors at Wheaton College’s Honey Rock Camp in northern Wisconsin for several weeks in the summer.
As a former recreation therapist, I love outdoor pursuits and enjoying God’s creation. When not exploring Colorado, you may find Kirk and I headed to the Tetons in Wyoming in our VW Camper Van. I am an avid reader, passionate about music (my husband says that I only enjoy “old men who can’t sing” but I think my musical interests are much more well rounded than that!), and love documentaries. Some of my closest friends have called me a coffee snob (it’s from all those years living in the Northwest!). Even though I love Colorado sports teams, be warned—I am a devout fan of the Missouri Tigers, Oregon Ducks and St. Louis Cardinals Baseball.
“At just the right time, we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” –Galatians 6:9 (NLT)
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