Education and Experience
I received my master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Bethel Seminary San Diego. The program at Bethel specializes in the integration of Christian perspectives with the major psychotherapy theories and meets the highest standards of accreditation for marriage and family therapy programs nationwide. I previously served as an adjunct professor in the program.
I also have a master’s degree in public health with an emphasis in health services administration from San Diego State University, and a bachelor of arts in Economics from the University of California, San Diego. My previous career was in hospital administration.
Certifications and Training
I have extensive training in three of the major approaches to psychotherapy: Bowen Family Systems Theory, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Internal Family Systems (IFS).
Four years at San Diego Hospice provides a breadth of knowledge and experience in working with grief and loss.
My perspective about suffering, distress, symptoms, etc.
There are many viable approaches to therapy. The theories and methods that inform my work resonate with me because they view human functioning, across a broad spectrum, as the result of adaptive strategies to cope with life – not as a pathology. In addition, I value a systemic perspective. As human beings, we simply cannot be understood apart from the context in which we reside – particularly the context of relationships with ourselves, others, and, for some, the Divine.
The strategies we employ, particularly in the face of life’s challenges, are necessary at a point in time, but can later become obstacles to healthy relationships or can disrupt our life in other ways. Consider the importance of hypervigilance – always being on alert – for a child who is in an abusive environment. This can be very protective but can lead to anxiety that doesn’t dissipate even when the environment is safe.
The study of the brain in the past 10 to 15 years has revolutionized the way we understand human development and functioning. While the nerdy teacher part of me could go on and on about this, suffice it to say that we now know that many of the symptoms that bring people to therapy are the result of distressing life experiences. The earlier in life these occur, the more vulnerable we are as humans to internalizing beliefs, emotions, and sensations that can disrupt our relationship with ourselves and others.
Often, symptoms such as anxiety, depression, excessive grief, low self-esteem, and compulsive behaviors, among others, are rooted in distressing experiences that have gotten “stuck” in our system. They were sufficiently distressing at the time that we simply could not process them, making us vulnerable to their influence in the present. Working through those experiences in a compassionate and respectful way can free you up for much greater calm and confidence in life.
I have been married to my husband since 1981. We have two adult children, both of whom are married, and grandchildren who are the light of my life.