I enjoy helping clients create rich and meaningful lives. I primarily use the Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) Model with clients, an evidence-based “third-wave” model that stems out of cognitive behavioral therapy.
ACT therapists are democratic; we use a strengths-based perspective to collaborate with our clients, and to set goals in line with our client’s values. To do that, we’ll spend some time taking about what you really want out of life; what’s important and meaningful to you, deep in your heart. We call this ‘clarifying your values’. Then, using your values as a guide, we’ll look at how you can set goals and take action to change your life for the better – and in the process, develop a sense of meaning, purpose, and vitality.
Our other aim is to teach you a set of skills that will allow you to handle painful thoughts and feelings more effectively, in such a way that they have much less impact and influence over you. We call these skills ‘mindfulness skills’. Mindfulness is a mental state of awareness, openness, and focus. In a state of mindfulness, painful thoughts and feelings have much less impact on us. In a state of mindfulness, we can effectively handle even the most difficult feelings, urges, memories, thoughts and sensations—and as we learn to do so, we can break self-defeating habits or destructive patterns of behavior; let go of self-defeating beliefs; rise beyond our fears, and change our attitude in life-enhancing ways.
A key part of therapy will involve you learning those mindfulness skills in the session, and then taking them home and practicing them in between sessions. The more you practice, the more benefits you’ll get—and vice-versa. What this means is, that in some sessions we will actually need to bring up some of those painful thoughts, feelings, memories, sensations and urges during the session, so that you can use your new skills to handle them better. Because of this, at times this therapy may be very challenging. However, at all times we will be working collaboratively, as equal team-players, so you will never be pushed or coerced in anything you are unwilling to do.
I encourage clients to give the approach at least six sessions. However, if this approach doesn’t seem right for you, or you’re not happy with the way it’s progressing, it is easy to refer you on to colleagues who use other models.
I especially enjoy working with clients through issues of :
Other things about me: I have been a social worker since 2002. Previous work and volunteer work include The University of Iowa Center for Disability and Development, Rape Victim Advocacy Program, United Action for Youth, The Arc of Southeast Iowa, The Children’s Center for Therapy (now ChildServ), and Four Oaks. I have been a Field and Practicum Supervisor for the University School of Social Work. I have been a member of National Association of Social Workers (NASW) since 2010 and a member of the Association of Contextual Behavioral Sciences since 2017. I served as Vice-Chair on the Prevent Child Abuse Iowa Board (2009-2010). My academic publications have appeared in Social Work in Health Care (2005) and American Academy of Pediatrics, Iowa Chapter (Spring, 2004).
Three books I currently consider foundational in my work as a psychotherapist are:
Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff
Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers
I am currently obsessed with the podcast Everything Happens with Kate Bowler. She explores “How to live after the worst day of your life” in a way that’s moving, tender, heartbreaking, and sometimes hilarious.
My passions outside the therapy room include reading and writing fiction, and spending time with my husband and my two smart, spunky young daughters.