Social work is my second career, turning a passion into a profession. I am thrilled to express that passion working with children, adolescents, and adults struggling with grief & loss, trauma, anxiety, and relationship issues. Between passion and profession, I earned my master’s degree in social work from the University of Houston.
I recognized my passion while volunteering at Bo’s Place, serving families facing grief and loss. I continue to volunteer, recently completing my 16th year! There is no “right” age to suffer the loss of a loved one. Supporting those who mourn is close to my heart.
“We are born with the expectation of being met as a person.” Sutherland
While in school, I gained experience providing therapy services to children and adult survivors of family violence through an area women’s center. Here, I cultivated an understanding of trauma. Whether recent or early in one’s life, the effects can endure. Realizing there is much more to us than trauma requires safe, empathetic, and skilled guidance and support.
Towards the treatment of trauma, I sought training in the most effective, researched means of treatment: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). At first blush, the treatment seems peculiar: expecting the wave of one’s fingers to lessen the pain of intense memories and emotions. While no treatment is effective with everyone, I relish the opportunity to discuss it with you. I am also versed in talk methods such as Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, including the creation and review of a trauma narrative.
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” Fred Rogers
While I am talking about big emotions, I should mention emotional regulation. Exploring, educating, and ultimately expanding the window of tolerance is the bread and butter. If simply hinting at a memory incites panic, we work on coping, mindfulness, calming, and grounding skills. The principle is expanding the time between stimulus and reaction, allowing us more time to consider our reaction.
“Birds fly, fish swim, and children play” Garry Landreth
Children, too, benefit from these skills: but sessions look very different. I recall my grandmother, patiently listening as I shared a childhood interest. I doubt my grandmother was truly interested in GI Joe or the Houston Oilers, but she “oohed” and “aahed” at my discourse, showing unconditional acceptance, positive regard, and of course, love. It is fitting that these concepts are at the core of working with children in play therapy. Child-centered sessions allow younger clients to “speak” in their native language: play. Both child-driven and directive time build mind-body awareness towards widening the window of tolerance in children.
Children can also benefit from the use of EMDR. Calling on support figures, both real and imaginary, in EMDR “resourcing” gels feelings of being loved and cared for, as well as enhancing problem solving, e.g. “what would (mommy / superman / reverend John) do.” EMDR with children looks quite different, using screens or headphones, vibrating wristbands, in shorter bursts matching their needs.
As with trauma, I surveyed the varied approaches to working with couples and relationships, settling on the most researched therapy: Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). From cradle to grave, we seek, and are built for, authentic connection with others. This primal necessity, attachment, forms the basis of work in EFT. The process is plodding, spending considerable time examining a couple’s cycles, the “EFT Tango,” and the underlying fears. Just as the pained yowl of a child typically elicits comforting action, expressing true vulnerability invites a desire to examine, understand, and ultimately address attachment pain. As the therapist in the first stages of EFT, I slow the cycle for examination, feel emotions with partners towards felt understanding, shield partners by drawing the focus of ire to myself, and prompt sharing of vulnerability.
“Uncertainty Is an Uncomfortable Position. But Certainty Is an Absurd One.” Voltaire
I do not know. I am not the expert. When it comes to the pain, fear, and distress you feel, you are the authority. I form working hypotheses to be tested and corrected by your experience. My first task is to build our relationship, fostering collaboration. I do not orate nor make decisions for you. Instead, we brainstorm, problem solve, and consider alternatives together.
I entered social work to serve my neighbors and, aside from our hot, humid summers, I love my hometown (technically,I was born in Pasadena). As I mentioned before, I volunteer at Bo’s Place, and recently began volunteering with the City of Houston. I love spending time with my family: my mother, brother, and two nephews, and my rescue golden retriever, Canelo.
If you are interested in working with me please call the office or email me today!