“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.”Thich Nhat Hahn
Over years of intensive training in various settings (e.g. counseling centers, medical clinics, schools, community mental health) I have developed the following areas of specialty:
Anxiety can manifest in different ways for everybody. For instance, symptoms of anxiety can occur “above the neck,” such as racing thoughts, a never ending stream of worry, a bad case of the “what-ifs,” or feeling a sense of unreality or detachment. Anxiety can also include symptoms” below our neck” and deep into our bodies, such as restlessness, fatigue, muscle tension/tightness, racing heart, sweatiness, nausea and stomachaches, and much more! Children and adolescents with anxiety may refuse to go to school, experience headaches or stomachaches, and have difficulty concentrating. Unfortunately, people with anxiety disorders find that over time they end up giving up more and more of their life to the anxiety. For example, people with social anxiety may constantly worry about being judged or perceived negatively by others, which may lead them to avoid parties, making new friends, social gatherings, or other meaningful life events.
Anxiety treatment includes various components such as learning powerful relaxation tools to naturally calm your body’s fight or flight response, challenging anxiety-inducing thinking patterns, and gently pushing yourself to overcome your fears. Ultimately in our work together, you will gain the confidence and knowledge to free yourself from the chains of anxiety and pursue the life that you really want.
Like anxiety, signs of depression can also vary greatly from person to person. Some people find themselves crying more often, others lose hope for the future, and still others feel as though the bright colors have been drained from life. For children or younger adolescents, depression often manifests as behavioral problems or poor academic performance. Regardless of how depression looks for you or your child, it always engenders much suffering and pain.
My view of depression is that the various symptoms (e.g. sadness, lack of joy, fatigue) are the human body’s way of getting our attention that something in our life is amiss or not working for us. Therefore, my approach to treating depression is to help you identify the meaning of your symptoms, highlight a direction forward, teach you mood-boosting tools, and navigating any barriers that get in the way of you living a fulfilled, healthy, and rich life.
When I say that I love panic attacks, people usually give me funny looks until I explain myself more fully. While panic attacks can be one of the most terrifying and uncomfortable sensations humans can experience, the part I “love” is that not only are panic attacks manageable, but they are fully curable! I have been trained to deliver the gold-standard intervention of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with exposure to help you become and stay panic-free.
Treatment for panic involves helping you gain valuable insight into how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors interact and lead to experience panicky feelings of terror. You will learn powerful skills and tricks that will empower you to make the necessary changes to heal from panic.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
In Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, “obsessions” are pervasive and intrusive thoughts, images, or urges people have that tend to be upsetting and not easily dismissed (e.g. fears of being contaminated and getting sick). A “compulsion” is a behavior or action one engages in to try and make the obsessive thought go away or to avoid an unwanted consequence (even if the person knows that the consequence is highly unlikely). Common compulsions include washing hands over and over to prevent getting sick or re-arranging objects until they feel “just right” (or else something terrible might occur). People with OCD may spend hours every day trying to combat obsessions or performing various compulsions. Not only is this exhausting for sufferers of OCD and their loved ones, but it can cause immense emotional distress and take up much of one’s life.
When working with clients who have symptoms of OCD, I use a form of cognitive behavioral therapy called “exposure and response prevention” (or ERP for short) that is considered the gold standard intervention for OCD. It involves helping people gain deep insight into how their obsessions and compulsions work together to keep them trapped in a vicious cycle of avoidance, followed by learning various coping skills and strategies to break this cycle and ultimately reclaim one’s life.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized as a combination of social difficulties and behavior that tends to be inflexible or rigid. The “spectrum” in ASD refers to the fact that the severity of symptoms in autism presents on a range. For instance, at one end of the spectrum, people with autism may have difficulty taking care of themselves and require daily intensive support and assistance to function in life. At the other end of the spectrum, people with autism require absolutely no assistance and can live their lives as independently as they choose.
Regardless of functioning, the unique social and behavioral symptoms associated with ASD may lead to various forms of suffering such as loneliness, anxiety, feelings of being rejected, or a tendency to become frustrated easily when things don’t go as planned. I have expertise in working with children, teens, and adults on the higher end of the autism spectrum (e.g., those that speak fluently and can function independently without supervision) in working through these difficulties. I have been an author on four research articles published in peer-reviewed journals examining aspects of autism and anxiety. My dissertation, which was also published in a peer reviewed journal, involved testing a mindfulness-based treatment to help adults with autism cope with distressing thoughts. Additionally, I have presented my research at several conferences and have attended various professional workshops and trainings on ASD treatment and assessment.