M.S. in Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling from Walden University
Professional Licensure Wa State DOH LH60945613
Integrated Medicine for Mental Health 2019
Gottman Level 3 Trained Clinician-
currently in certification process
Integrated Medicine for Mental Health
Much of my life has been spent in the beautiful pacific northwest. Early in my life I experienced significant hardships that caused me to have great compassion for others. In fact it was some of my very own adversity and devastating effects of a broken marriage that propelled me to counseling career.
In 2004 I began my counseling career where I was working with individuals who were suffering from substance use disorders. Often times these individuals were also dealing with mental health disorders of every type with the most common often anxiety, depression, PTSD and trauma. I quickly was able to see that there were very few individuals that I was working with that had not suffered from some form of trauma. While pursuing my undergraduate degree I set out to understand people and the trauma they had faced better. I entered a predominantly African American college where I would gain cultural competency first hand.
I remained in the counseling field working with those with co occurring disorders during my pursuit of my graduate degree at Walden University while also supervising and providing training to clinicians. In this pursuit of helping others heal, I found that I quickly became frustrated with the way that mental health disorders of every type were being managed rather than healed completely. This began a pursuit that would shape the next part of my journey to wholeness. I began to search for the root causes of mental health disorders rather than a means of managing the symptoms. While I find value in temporarily helping people to cope with the effects that mental illness has had on their life, I find the most passion in helping them completely eradicate the illness all together.
The last 15 years of working with people has helped me to understand their trauma greater and to possess more compassion and understanding of the issues people face while also helping them to overcome and pursue greater purpose in their own lives. It has also given me the knowledge of what the root causes of mental illness are.
Relationships have a huge impact on a persons overall mental health. Additionally divorce is the single greatest predictor of challenges that young children face that results in less financial resources, less familial support, poor mental health, poor physical health as well as other factors that impact a child's life experience. This understanding has caused me to pursue preventing divorce radically through couples therapy.
In a perfect world, I would provide pre marital counseling to couples pursuing marriage to provide them with the skills to communicate and navigate life as a couple and prevent future divorce. I also find great value in helping couples who are in distress to restore and rebuild their relationship and find joy again with their partner.
When treating couples I use the Gottman Approach to Couples Therapy. The Gottman Approach was founded by Dr.'s John and Julie Gottman at the University of Washington where they have been studying couples in the"Love Lab" for over 40 years. This approach is grounded in scientific research that has proven efficacy in helping couples to achieve greater intimacy and increase their communication skills. I begin by assessing each couple to identify the strengths of their relationship, the areas that need strengthened and develop a plan to strengthen the weaker areas. I attempt to always remain neutral, allowing each partner to feel heard and valued in the therapy sessions and relationship while teaching each partner the skills to avoid critical behaviors that have been proven to lead to divorce and separation known as the "Four horseman", teach skills to develop stronger communication skills, increase intimacy, navigate conflict whether perpetual or resolvable and strengthen the couples friendship.
In my personal time I enjoy traveling with my husband and boys. My favorite vacation destination has been right here in the beautiful United States on the island of Maui. My other favorite past time is playing with my dog, Suka ("Sugar" in Samoan language)