I became a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor in 1988 and went on to earn a Masters in Counseling at San Francisco State University. I also received an additional certificate for improving social services in public schools.
My work experience has included school based counseling at the elementary, middle, and high school levels; drug and alcohol programs for adults as well as adolescents; couples and family therapy; and adult and geriatric psychiatric units.
Paralleling these experiences and informing my philosophy and approach to working with people, I also have over twenty-five years of group experience as a participant and facilitator primarily in psychodynamic, interactive process groups and including psychodrama, multifamily, psycho-educational, and poetry groups.
Lastly, there is my personal meditation routine that has fostered a better appreciation of the role of compassion and kindness to oneself throughout the therapeutic journey.
And the day came when the risk [it took] to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom. ~Anais Nin
Our choices and their implications help shape us as well as the environment. There is a quote by Anais Nin: “And the day came when the risk [it took] to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom.” I think that regardless of who we are, we each endeavor to bloom.
Blooming, or growth and development, occurs incrementally in the course of adaptation and learning.
I believe wise adaptation involves self-reflection, curiosity, and an openness to self-discovery. The attitude is one of curiosity and inquiry. Reflection, and its sister, awareness, are instrumental to the wisdom we each derive from our experiences.
Two important facets of this process: 1. Relating to what is discovered and explored with gentleness and compassion. This is important to sustain the willingness to reflect and be curious. 2. Knowing when to “let go.” Again referring to the Anais Nin quote above, it seems there is a three-part dynamic that includes Trust, Feeling in Control, and Letting Go; the latter is a moment of great potential and willingness to venture over a threshold into a new beginning. It is a moment of willingness to bloom in spite of not feeling ready; it is the “risk.”
1. Collaboration is an essential facet of my approach. Working jointly with a client involves trusting client wisdom to know what works and what is meaningful. It also involves grasping the world as seen and experienced by the client. Co-participation in a dialogue with a client to improve adaptation forms the basis of my approach; client collaboration is integral to how I work.
2. Fostering reflection and self-awareness are elements of my approach. Through reflection and self-awareness, internal obstacles are identified and options open up as wisdom is gleaned from information embedded in thoughts, emotions, and attitudes that filter our experience of the world. Giving voice to obstacles that might have skulked outside awareness opens space for an expanded perspective, and ultimately possibilities. To encourage reflection, I may raise questions with the purpose in mind to encourage wonder and curiosity.
3. My approach assumes that self-kindness and compassion are important for sustaining motivation to continually practice reflection and self-awareness. Along with providing a safe space that invites authentic expression, I am attentive to whether self-perceived less-than-flattering notions are received kindly and compassionately. Curiosity about oneself is more likely when there is a sense that what is discovered is received and accepted with compassion and gentleness. Honoring self-love during meetings is a way of encouraging that process beyond our work together.
4. The approach is interactive and reflects my extensive experience with group work. Interactive for me means being both a participant and an observer; for example, how might what is occurring with me reflect what may be occurring with the client? I may give voice to what I think seeks expression (and then check to see if I was on target). I may observe like an anthropologist trying to learn about a different culture. I endeavor to relate genuinely and authentically.