What made you decide to become a counselor?
In high school I took the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) and discovered my personality type. I typed as an INFP. As it turned out, therapy and counseling is one of the top suggested professions for this personality type based on natural strengths and preferences. Since the start of my career, it has felt like a great fit and I’ve since felt fortunate to have the insight to choose this as my work. Because of my experience, I obtained certification to provide the MBTI to my clients.
If you could teach the world one skill or technique to improve their lives, what would it be?
I would teach the world to take time for self-reflection. I believe the solution to many challenges is within each individual, waiting to be discovered or nurtured. Self-reflection may involve acknowledging patterns of thinking and behavior, taking inventory of strengths and weaknesses, and reflecting on values and goals. A few ways to practice self-reflection can be through therapy sessions, writing in a journal or blog, or taking a moment in the middle of the day to check-in with ourselves.
Have you personally been in counseling and if so, what did you learn about yourself?
I received therapy during a particularly difficult time in my life. Through therapy, although it took some sessions, I learned to separate myself from an inner dialogue that was not helpful, even harmful to my present and future self. This inner dialogue perpetuated this belief that I was a victim of my circumstances. When I learned to observe this dialogue, I was able to change it. I noticed I started to feel better and found it natural to act in healthier ways.
If you could recommend one book to all your clients, what would it be?
Over the years, I’ve become a podcast listener thanks to long commutes. When I do make time to read, I have preferred reading journal articles online. However, the book The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck has always stuck with me. When I had read it, I was going through a challenging time and felt surrounded by “happy people”. Because of this, the first chapter immediately grabbed my attention. It provided the perspective and in a way gave permission to accept that “life is difficult”. I had found this idea very freeing.
What inspires you to help others?
The individual person inspires me. Each person has had a unique journey that has brought them to where they are and who they are today. Meeting them on this journey and taking steps with them to continue on is incredibly rewarding. This also inspires me to rise to the challenge of adapting my skills to best meet each of my client’s needs.
Who is your ideal client?
Over the years, I have felt comfortable working with a wide range of clients in terms of ages, backgrounds, and challenges. The clients that I felt were “ideal” did not necessarily have any of these as a common factor. What made them ideal was their willingness to connect in therapy and bring their authentic self in sessions. That being said, I have worked with many clients in a place of avoidance. Even in this place, I have found value in meeting them where they were at and working through this.
How do you personally practice self-care?
For self-care, I enjoy practicing creativity. Usually through painting and drawing. Painting and drawing fills me with comfort and a sense of empowerment that I can create something out of a nothing, in this case a blank page. Similar to my fellow Austin Mindfulness therapists, I also enjoy hiking and spending time in nature. This may be spending an afternoon at a greenbelt or taking a weekend trip to a state park.
How do you relate to Mindfulness? How do you incorporate it in your sessions?
I use mindfulness in my work and in my personal life. Over the years, I have learned no matter the setting, there is a place for mindfulness from locked psychiatric units with acute patients to afterschool programs with middle school students. In my sessions, I provide education on the characteristics of mindfulness, how it can be helpful, and suggestions for activities to access mindfulness such as listening to a guided meditation, visualization, practicing deep breathing, going on mindfulness walks, as well as teaching mindfulness based DBT skills.
Your favorite quote?
I have plenty. Recently, my favorite quote is, “No one and nothing can free you but your own understanding” - Ajahn Chah
If you are hosting a dinner party, who are the 3 people you would invite and why?
Carl Jung: His take on the world has fascinated me since I was a student in college. I appreciate the value he places on symbolism, patterns of human behavior, and the subconscious as ways to learn more about ourselves and others.
Vincent van Gogh: Like many, I’m a fan of his work. I enjoy his use of color, texture, and the appearance of movement in his paintings. His life however is a cautionary tale of mental health going untreated and having inadequate support. Overall, it would be interesting to meet him.
My older self: This one is a little outside of the box, but anyone from the future would be fun to meet. Meeting your future self may be the most fun.