Individual Therapy with Children, Teens, Adults and Elders

My Therapy with Individuals

People seek individual therapy (also known as psychotherapy or counseling) when we experience a problem or sense of life not going as well as we’d like, and don’t know how to fix the problem on our own. We may be wanting relief from distress and pain, or to find more fulfillment, meaning and connection in our lives. It is a courageous step to reach out for support. If I can be of help, I will. The process of finding a trusted therapist can be overwhelming and daunting. I hope my website offers some insight into who I am and how I help to assist you in this process. Comfort, trust and safety in your therapist is critical in order for therapy to be a transformative experience. To decide whether working together is good and right for you (or your child), I offer a free 30 minute consultation either by phone or in my West Seattle office. Because I am so committed to each person finding their “right fit” in a therapist, I am happy to provide you with recommendations for other therapists in the area if I’m not “the one”. 6The therapeutic relationship that you and I form together is unique, existing exclusively for you and your self-exploration Picking and choosing from the many techniques I offer, you and I will collaboratively create a therapy tailored specifically to you and your individual needs. With all my clients, I offer warmth, unconditional positive regard, empathy, curiosity, and when welcomed, a respectful playfulness. Depending on what you’re needing and drawn toward, we may engage solely in talk therapy, or we may incorporate my training and professional expertise in art therapy, mindfulness, guided imagery and meditation, hakomi/body-centered psychotherapy, sand tray therapy, play therapy, dreamwork, journaling and movement therapy into your sessions. Trauma resolution, Nonviolent Communication, and the theories of Psychodynamic, Gestalt and Carl Jung also inform my approach. 7Regardless of how we work together, I will show you how to begin to develop empathy and compassion for what in you feels stuck, painful or lacking. My approach to psychotherapy is rooted in transpersonal psychology, and thus differs from traditional modern psychology in many ways. To begin with, I don’t pathologize you or minimize who you are down to a cluster of symptoms. I see your basic goodness and trust in your innate wisdom to heal yourself. Most radically, I view your troubles as your greatest ally into self discovery, choosing to embrace and work with them, rather than pushing them away. Working gently and attentively with your system, I teach you to lean into all that is unwanted or uncomfortable in a way that is non-violent and friendly toward yourself. By accepting yourself and your problems just as they are, you can begin to make meaningful and lasting change. You will develop courage, foster self-esteem, and strengthen connection to yourself and others. When confronted by your difficult circumstances, a shift will occur. Rather than feeling perpetually confused, trapped, ashamed, alone, afraid, self-righteous (or whatever your habituated unwanted reaction is!) a menu of options for a more expansive and desired way of being will present itself. Old patterns of, “I don’t like this, but I don’t know what else to do,” will give way to freedom, clear choice and possibilities. Together we will unfold your authentic self so that you can begin to live the fullest life you can imagine. I am trained in a wide range of issues including, but not limited to:

  • depression/hopelessness/stuckness
  • anger/aggression
  • anxiety
  • stress
  • addiction
  • self-harm
  • relationship difficulties
  • early attachment/abandonment
  • domestic violence/abuse
  • sexual identity/LGBTQ
  • women’s issues
  • cultural conflicts
  • grief and loss
  • death and dying
  • aging
  • loneliness
  • transitions
  • spiritual crisis/spiritual growth
  • parenting support and education

My Therapy with Children and Teens

IMG_0723Quite often parents seek me out to work with their child or teen because I offer art therapy. And for good reason! Generally speaking, because they are in the process of developing speech, children use play and imagery rather than words to express their feelings and concern. As an art therapist, I am fluent in their language! Children and teens come into my office excited to play and create: opening art material drawers, getting out the glitter glue, pulling paint and brushes off the shelf, cutting out pictures from magazines for collage, altering books to write their own story, decorating boxes and masks to depict what they show the world and what they keep hidden, drawing cartoons of super heroes with powers to rise above all adversity…the list, like their imaginations, is endless. she-becameThe whole time they are playing and creating, they are communicating to me in the language of metaphor: telling me something about themselves and their relationship to the world. I meld my skill and training as a child developmental specialist, artist, teacher and art therapist to assist your child in successfully working through depression, anxiety, trauma, grief/loss, transition, family and peer relationship trouble, and school problems. I may also incorporate sand play and play therapy into the work we do. For younger developmental stages, simply “staying in the metaphor” of the art or play process can provide tremendous growth and healing. Without having to “talk about their issues”, young clients learn self-expression, self-esteem, self-control, problem solving, social skills, tolerance, IMG_0390and enhanced cognitive development, in the presence of a nurturing and observant witness. When developmentally appropriate, I may help children attach verbal language to their art making process to further support self-awareness and expression. In general, as children age into adolescence they become more verbally expressive, and develop critical thinking and conceptual reasoning. It is the job of the adolescent to individuate from the parents and ask the question, “Who am I?” They become more influenced by their peers, and grapple with the task of balancing individual, family, social and cultural expectations in the context of sexual and gender development. The issues they face become more complex, such as self-worth, self-esteem, self-harm, sexual identity, body-image, eating disorders, drug and alcohol use, academic pressure, romantic relationships, and suicide. DSC_0061While teens may have the cognitive ability to talk about their difficulties, they often show a preference to be silent and internal. Talking to adults about themselves can sometimes be tricky–bringing up feelings of vulnerability, insecurity and distrust. I genuinely “get” and respect this about teens, and have great success with them because of this. For a teen who doesn’t initially want to talk about their problems, or doesn’t know how to, art can be a powerful ally, offering a safe, comfortable and enjoyable outlet. For teens who are more verbal, we may choose to incorporate talk therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. In addition to art, play and sand tray therapy, I have found that children and teens respond well to the mindfulness and guided imagery work I offer. Young clients gain tools they can take with them outside my office and put into use in their daily lives. My child and teen clients and their parents report finding:

  • change-of-attitudegreater awareness of self and others
  • kindness toward self and other
  • more connection in relationship
  • increased focus and attention span
  • acceptance of their situation
  • improved sleeping habits
  • patience
  • improved self-regulating of emotions
  • greater capacity to tolerate distress
  • overall happiness

Working with Parents

8I offer parenting support and education when wanted or useful. I do not currently provide family counseling, but could this be beneficial to you, I am happy to provide you with several referrals. To maintain the integrity of the therapeutic bond, I choose to work with either the parent OR the child, but I won’t take on both as clients at the same time. That said, when working with children and teens, I honor a parent’s natural care and concern for their child’s well being. Within the limits of confidentiality, I am happy to discuss your child or teen’s progress in their work with me.