The idea [of therapy] isn’t to give people answers, or lead their longing into a safe, dull, protected harbor, but to make people aware of the depths of possibility in their hearts and lives; help them remove the barriers that keep them from being the people they were meant to be.
— John O’Donohue
Grief and Loss
I am experienced in and enjoy working with a wide variety of issues. In addition, I have intensive training and experience in my specialties, which include:
Living through the loss of a loved one can be one of the most difficult journeys there is. In our culture, we’re often left quite alone to grieve. We’re expected to “be strong” and “get over” bereavement quickly. But mourning is actually an interpersonal process that requires time, validation, support, and permission.
I have extensive experience in working with grief and mourning. I know a lot about living through the numbness of shock, being unable to believe that the loss has occurred, crazy-looking intense feelings that sometimes seem out of control, not wanting to grow and change without your loved one, the slow rebuilding of a new kind of life, ultimately finding healing.
I have a deep faith in the unique way each person grieves, and I believe in the profound value of the transformation that can occur when grief is allowed to be fully felt. By being left alone to grieve, we often cut off our feelings because they’re simply too frightening to face by ourselves. But when we receive support and care from someone who is not afraid of our big emotions and who can help us face the suffering that can seem so overwhelming, a natural healing process occurs. When grief is allowed to run its full course, I’ve very often seen people grow into feeling stronger than ever before, deep feelings of compassion for oneself and others, a more solid sense of self, richer and more meaningful relationships, and a vastly increased appreciation for the moments of life.
I know grief’s territory well, and I am particularly good at walking with people through this kind of darkness. Whatever your mourning is like, I can be with you as you go through it so you don’t have to bear the painful feelings alone.
Grief can also be triggered by other kinds of loss, such as divorce, a move, loss of health through serious illness or pain, etc. and I am good at working with these kinds of loss as well. And my grief expertise naturally extends to depression, loneliness, and trauma.
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Throughout life, we come upon times when we feel like we’re leaving an old self behind and we’re trying to find a new self. Sometimes these transitions are concrete—like leaving home for the first time, getting married or divorced, having a baby, trying to find a fulfilling career, facing an empty nest, or retiring. And sometimes these life changes are more abstract—like seeking purpose, fulfilling potential, exploring a calling, or changing spiritually.
Many times we leave an old self behind before we know what’s happening, or before we know whom the new self will be. This period of transition—the unknown time between selves—can be difficult and chaotic, and can last longer than we wish it would.
My unique combination of experience with grief work and spiritual issues gives me particular skill in navigating these unknown waters. I am good at helping you bear the feelings that come up during the time when the old self is gone and the new self hasn’t yet materialized, and at helping you discern what your heart tells you about the step that might come next on your journey through not-knowing into knowing.
Together we will explore the full spectrum of feelings and ideas that accompany and signify a life transition—grief for the self you’re leaving behind, fear of the unknown, hopes and longings for the future, learning to hear and trust what your heart knows about where you’re headed, finding courage to move in unfamiliar directions.
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Most of us have heard of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which encompasses the difficulties and symptoms that can impact the lives of people who have suffered trauma and catastrophic loss in their lives. But few of us have heard of post-traumatic growth.
Post-traumatic growth refers to the massive and expansive life changes that can occur in one’s sense of self, relationships, and philosophy of life when people live through and deeply process a traumatic loss or event. Research has found that when people receive caring support to find meaningful rituals, to feel the emotions that go with loss and traumatic experiences, to bear and open to the unfamiliarity of making their way to a new life, then they often end up growing into feeling stronger, more resilient, and more courageous than ever before; having deeper and more meaningful relationships with their loved ones; and having more profound, complex, and compassionate ways of viewing the world.
My grief and loss work extends to helping you navigate your way into post-traumatic growth and integrate this growth into your life. Post-traumatic growth can feel not only expansive, but also difficult because the newfound way of being is so unfamiliar to you and to the people with whom you share your life. I can provide the support needed to help you explore, retain, and expand your new way of experiencing yourself and the world.
I work with post-traumatic growth individually, and am also forming a therapy group where people who have experienced this type of life change can support and learn from each other. Sometimes it can be hard to find peers who understand and relate to these life changes, and sometimes it can be hard to integrate these changes into your life, so sharing these kinds of shifts with a group of others who have been there can be extremely healing.
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Current research shows that when parents heal unresolved trauma and loss, parenting becomes more fulfilling and children become more secure. When parents tend to their own healing, they also stop or slow down the cycle of passing trauma from one generation to the next.
Because of the good it does for parents, children, and future generations, I am dedicated to working with you as a parent. What affects your life affects your parenting, so I will help you not only with parenting per se, but also with any life concerns you may have.
My experience with parenting, grief and loss, trauma, and life transition applied to parents can help you begin to resolve your issues in order to be a happier parent with happier children. I work with parents as individuals, and I am starting therapy groups specifically for parents to support and help each other in their therapeutic endeavors.
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