Early in in this work I was able to join into the lives of adults with severe and persistent mental illness and help them to fashion wellness and recovery in their own communities and with their own families. I was in the thick of life with men and women having full and robust and connected lives even while facing some of the most challenging brain diseases and it was due significantly to their close family supports. This pushed me to pursue a deeper understanding of family systems. I was lucky to be living in an area which was the birthplace of family systems therapy. I spent several years being mentored and trained by people who have devoted their research and their lives to helping develop strong connected families. This work fundamentally changed how I viewed the world and my own family. Through my time devoted to Ecosystemic Structural Family Therapy i not only learned but actually experienced that no one is ever truly alone and we grow best and heal best together.
Later as my husband and I chose to move our family to GA to be closer to my parents I was presented with an opportunity I never expected and that was to take the things I learned about family systems and apply them to an even bigger system. Schools. Through a generous federal grant I was able to help develop programs and provide direct support not just for an entire school district but the state as a whole that integrated mental health supports for everyone, students, teachers, administrators, staff, and families. This was incredible because we do indeed grow and heal best together and there is no easier place to do this than a school system.
As this grant was coming to a close I knew it was time to come back to families but this time with a focus on the core relationships. This is what drew me to Emotion Focused Therapy as it was another type of treatment that helps people to have new experiences in a non-judgemental way. Often my clients have had other therapist or worked through self help but leave feeling like they have just put emotional bandaids on a relationship that needs surgery. A lot of times these attempts just fall short by focusing on the basics like communication skills and problem solving or worse yet one partner feeling they must be the bad guy. This never really gets down to what is going on underneath and moving from shame and blame to working together to change the core issues that get us all stuck over and over again. In my office there are no good guys or bad guys just people who love each other and keep getting stuck and keep missing each other.
In this most recent stop on my journey I’m thrilled to be a part of a practice that has a vision to nurture couples, caregivers, and families. As a pastor’s kid, a therapist, and a educational leader I am drawn to supporting caregivers such as pastors, administrators, doctors, and their families who find themselves feeling like they “always need to be on”, or that they are “alone in a crowded room”, or those that give so much in their professions that there is not much left for their personal lives. I also have unique experience supporting those who have faced significant shifts in faith or faith communities. Often this deconstruction affects everything not just ideology but friendships, family support, and sense of identity. There is hope on the other side and I’ve been grateful to walk with people as they reconstruct a new outlook and a healthier future.