Other Issues

 

Abuse

sadly, can occur in a variety of ways. Childhood abuse, childhood neglect, sexual abuse, incest, rape, domestic abuse and domestic violence, emotional abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, and mental abuse are all terms most of us are all too familiar with. Abuse can also be energetic and psychic. Abused people usually have significant wounding that requires attention and care to heal. Because all abuse happens in relationship, it requires the reparative experience of a loving relationship for it to heal. Sometimes, someone comes into our lives, a lover or a good friend, and that healing happens naturally on its own. More often, though, a professional skilled in helping people get through and past their traumatic experiences is required. That’s where holistic counseling comes in. As a caring and skilled professional who is also a survivor, I work to help others heal from their abusive experiences.

All abuse is wounding, however, abuse that occurs as a child can be deeply damaging. I work with survivors of both adult and childhood abuse of all kinds including non-consensual sexual perpetration.

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Addiction & Recovery

There are a broad range of addictions such as, gambling addiction, internet addiction, video game addiction, relationship addiction, nicotine addiction, shopping addiction, lying addiction, alcohol addiction, drug addiction, and substance abuse addiction. The compulsiveness involved causes significant distress for addicts and their loved ones. There are times when in-patient addiction treatment is the best course of action, however, there are times when those who are addicted are better served with out-patient therapy.

My approach is strength-based and nonpathological. I believe that those with addictions have a biological predisposition for addiction, however, biology is not entirely destiny. As an addictions counselor I’ve worked with a lot of addicts. In every addict I’ve ever worked with, every one of  used their drug of choice to manage an emotional state that they didn’t have skill to manage otherwise. So in some ways, there is a sanity in the addictive behavior; It’s an attempt to regulate an emotional state that is overwhelming. A good part of my work with those who suffer from addictions is to help them expand their capacity to tolerate difficult emotions and offer better coping mechanisms than drugs or alcohol. Many who suffer from addictions also have trauma experiences that remain unresolved so trauma counseling is often necessary when working with addictive behaviors.

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Anger, Resentment & Forgiveness

Anger is often a surface emotion. There is almost always a feeling underneath, like hurt or betrayal, that we cannot bear to feel because it is too vulnerable and too powerless. I provide therapy for people who have been wounded and are living with the torture of chronic resentment. Though it is important to experience all of our feelings fully, ongoing anger and resentment are only damaging to the individual experiencing them. We can only move through the anger when we are willing to sit with the pain of the underlying experience.

Overcoming resentment occurs when we can understand can have compassion on ourselves and others. Ultimately, we fully release our anger, resentment and woundings when we can forgive.

It’s tricky to speak of forgiveness as those who have been deeply wounded, traumatized and betrayed find forgiveness an appalling concept. What I do know, however, is that if you’ve been hurt and are holding onto resentment and anger, it has the end result of only hurting you further. The pain and betrayal stay alive in you in the form of resentment. It also keeps you in a state of victimization, because the person who hurt you continues to have power over your emotional state, even though he or she may be long gone.

It is through forgiveness that we fully heal. Forgiving others does not mean that what the person did was okay, rather, it’s a conscious act to reclaim to fullness of our joy and happiness in spite of the wounding that was received. It releases the hold the perpetrator has on us and takes us out the experience of being a victim. This is the meaning of the phrase “to forgive is divine.” Forgiveness is a really hard thing to come to, and I can speak from personal experience when I say that it is both possible and one of the most freeing things you can do for yourself.

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Attachment Disorders

Some of our biggest issues come from our early caregiver experiences. Attachment disorder is a broad term that generally describes disorders of social relationships, behavior and mood which results from disruptions in attachment to primary caregivers in early childhood, usually before three years of age. Failure to attach to the primary caregiver usually results from significant experiences of abuse, neglect, abrupt caregiver separation, frequent change of caregivers or excessive numbers of caregivers, or lack of caregiver responsiveness to child communicative efforts.

In order to heal the attachment wound, people suffering from attachment disorders need to have a reparative experience by attaching to another human being. This could be done by any caring person significant to the individual with the attachment disorder. The difficulty is that the problem areas of those with attachment disorder (behavior, mood, social relationship) make it hard to sustain a relationship long enough to repair the attachment wound. For the attachment disordered person, the original wound occurred in relationship and can only be healed within the context of relationship. This is where counseling comes into play. With disorders of attachment, the therapist becomes the attachment person for the client. For these people, the therapeutic relationship is critical to the healing process.

Family of Origin Issues

Just because we may have been abused, neglected, etc. does not mean that we will have issues with attachment, particularly for those whose abuse occurred later in childhood. Still, issues around trust, loneliness, abandonment and power can all be deeply rooted in childhood experiences. Life events such as divorce, loss of a parent, repeated relocations can have significant effects on the developing child and can affect how we live our lives as adults. Likewise, family patterns, such as secrecy, manipulation and misogyny, can also affect the quality of our lives and our adult relationships.

We often begin work with family of origin issues by creating a genogram, a family tree, that includes family patterns. Working with family-of-origin dynamics can be very helpful as we often repeat those dynamics in love, work and personal relationships. In counseling, we work to heal to family dynamic and to create new relational dynamics.

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Vocational Counseling

For those people unhappy with their career choice, career counseling can be the best investment you’ll every make. A career is what you do to make money or earn status. But a vocation is a calling; it takes our gifts, passions, abilities, dreams and values and incorporates them into our life purpose. A vocation will satisfy our soul, a career will not. I work to help people not only make a financially sustainable living, but to also make a difference.

Workplace Coaching

In my previously career as a Human Resources Director, I specialized in communication and conflict resolution and helped organizations to live the values they professed to hold. Whether you are a manager or managed, you will inevitably have difficulty with the people and the organization you work with. Developing appropriate communication skills and learning how to present yourself to others can be a critical skill in workplace satisfaction. Workplace coaching can help you to have more success at work.

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Marriage Counseling & Couples Counseling

People often come in for marriage therapy and couples therapy due to a crisis in the relationship – Either something significant has changed, or one or both partners gets sick and tired of having the same argument. Some of the issues that can throw couples in crisis are infidelity and emotional affairs, trust, sexual dissatisfaction or sexual dysfunction, money, aging parents, parenting and step-parenting issues, medical health issues, loss of a family member, and addictions, to name a few. Sometimes, passion just seems to have deserted the couple. Marriage counseling and couples counseling can often help couples to take the action needed to inspire a reawakening in the couple. Couples counseling can also help to repair and rebuild a ruptured relationship.

Sometimes couples are at a significant crisis point and are just trying to figure out if they should even stay together. I do believe in relationship and that most relationships can be repaired/improved if both people in the relationship can commit to doing the work necessary to create a more healthy and satisfying relationship. But that isn’t true for all relationships, and even though a relationship could be repaired and improved, one or both partners just may not be up for doing the work.

I work with both traditional and nontraditional couples. This means that in addition to marriage counseling, I also provide coaching and counseling to those in same-sex relationships as well as to people in polyamorous relationships and open marriages. Marriage, couples and family therapy is available to my Colorado clients.

Marriage Coaching & Couples Coaching

Marriage coaching and couples coaching can work to strengthen an already relatively functional relationship. The focus of coaching sessions might be on enhancing relationship skills and satisfaction, diminishing codependency and increasing interdependency, becoming a unified front, and values exploration. Couples coaching can also be used as a form of  preventative maintenance. Scheduling regular ‘check-ups’ can help to clean up the little issues before they turn into big issues.

Couples who have already decided to dissolve their partnership can also find coaching helpful in navigating the terrain of untangling a life together. Having an objective and compassionate third-party to mediate the separation can make the process of separation more sane; It can help each partner to say in their integrity, soften reactivity, and even cultivate an awareness that even a separation can be part of a spiritual path.

Polyamorous and open relationships have all the complications of monogomous relationships in addition to the complications that arise when others are invited to share the intimacy. I also provide coaching for those in nontraditional unions to help nontraditional couples maintain intimacy, clearly communication of boundaries, and work through the issues that arise in nontraditional unions.

Relationship Coaching

For many of us, we have had friendships that last longer than our marriages and partnerships. Sometimes when relationships have a rupture, we’re able to get through it on our own; Sometimes that rupture threatens the relationship. Most of us have lost a friend or two over a hurt or misunderstanding. Our non-romantic relationships can be such a huge source of support and community;  It’s unfortunate that we don’t usually think of counseling as an option when our friendship relationships hit a rough patch. I believe in the need for community and extended chosen family connections and offer coaching and counseling to help those relationships flourish.

Family Coaching

I have worked with families since my clinical internship and love helping families find better ways of interacting with each other. Family coaching can help to improve communication, set and hold realistic boundaries, unify parents, improve parenting skills, and increase the sense of family cohesion.

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Creative Blocks & Creative Expression

Creative Blocks

For artists and creative types, creative blocks can be both frustrating and painful. Sometimes we get stuck in a loop and can’t quite seem to get out. If you’ve ever entered into the dark space we refer to as a creative block, work with a body-centered, energetic focused, creative arts counselor can often move you across the divide that separates you from your juicy, creative self.

Creative Expression

I believe that we are all born with creativity as our natural birthright. Every child with functional fingers knows how to finger paint. A child who has not been shamed, will naturally move their bodies to music. Unfortunately, creativity is not something that’s valued in Western society; We stop having art period by second grade for the sake of math, science and English. We are also often shamed in our creative expression, so we stop. We learn what a “good dancer” is and if that’s not the way we do it, we stop. Or we learn messages about what girls are allowed to do and what boys are allowed to do, and further curtail our creativity.

All beings are creative. None of us have to develop our creativity, we just need a bit of help to bring it out of the closet. As a creative type, I have a wide range of ways I can help people to reaccess the creativity they were born with. I use a variety of creative and expressive arts therapies to help that process such as art therapy, dance therapy, movement therapy, sandtray therapy, music therapy, and vocalization therapy

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Cultural Conflicts & Multicultural Counseling

As a person who grew up in mixed community and who has a mixed family, I understand firsthand what it’s like to live in-between worlds. It is sometimes hard to navigate values and expectations from two or more cultures and sometimes difficult to find peace within our own internal opposing values.  Furthermore, if you’ve moved to the US from another country (or sometimes even from one state to another), cultural integration and learning the new social rules can be challenging. I have not only been transplanted into several other cultures, I have also worked with European and Arabic immigrants to the US, and extensively with Latino immigrants. While I don’t profess to know everything about your culture of origin or the exact cultural conflicts that you experience, I can tell you that I know the terrain of navigating the in-between spaces of racial, ethnic, cultural and gender/sexuality cultures.

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Cutting & Self-Harming Behaviors

Cutting and self-harming behaviors are hard for those who don’t physically hurt themselves to understand. But, like all of our seemingly senseless behavior, cutting and other self-harming behaviors make sense if you can see them from a different viewpoint. Cutting is an external representation of an internal experience that the person usually has a difficult time expressing. Overwhelming feelings that are common in those who self-injury are anger and loneliness. Because culturally, girls are not permitted to fully express their anger, it makes sense that the majority of people who cut are young women. Young women are also culturally trained to turn their pain inward. For example, if a relationship doesn’t work out, instead of thinking “he’s not good enough for me,” young girls more often think, “what’s wrong with me?”

Cutting also makes sense from a purely physiological level. Cutting and other self-harming behaviors release natural pain killers (endorphins). This can often result in a numbed-out state that provides temporary distance from the intense suffering. Successfully stopping self-harming behaviors takes an integrated approach. I teach people who self-injure

  • Distraction techniques when desire to cut is strong
  • Recognize precursors to cutting and learn to avoid and/or prepare for them
  • Increase capacity to both name and express feelings and needs
  • Incorporate creative outlets for expression
  • Increase physical activity to release the happy chemicals in the body

Cutting and self-harming behaviors (e.g. branding, hair pulling, picking at skin, and in some cases, excessive piercing or tattooing) often occur with other psychological issues. People who self-mutilate have higher rates of eating disorders, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, substance abuse, and histories of sexual abuse. For this reason, I never treat self-mutilation as a stand-alone condition. In young girls, family coaching or counseling may be a required part of treatment.  If you are cutting yourself or involved in other self-injurious behavior, help is available.

Empowerment & Codependency

Codependency

As social beings, we are all, to some degree, dependent upon one another. In healthy dependency, called interdependency, we are reliant upon others and responsible to others in state of mutual cooperation.  In codependency, only one person is dependent, and that dependency prevents us from living in our power. It often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others and is usually characterized by denial, avoidance, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, and/or control patterns. Codependency also occurs when we are controlled or manipulated by someone who has a pathological condition, such as narcissism or addiction.

If you’re wondering if you might be codependent, look at some of the patterns of codependencydelineated by Codependents Anonymous:

  1. Denial Patterns: such as Difficulty identifying feelings or minimizing feelings; Overly self-reliant and not accepting help; Masking pain through anger, humor or isolation; Passive aggressive; Inability to recognize others’ unavailability
  2. Low Self Esteem Patterns: such as Difficulty making decisions; Judging self and behavior as never good enough; Embarrassed by praise and recognition; Valuing others’ approval more than self-approval; Believing self to be unloveable or unworthwhile; Difficulty admitting mistakes; Inability to ask others to meet needs or desires.
  3. Compliance Patterns: such as Loyalty even when it is harmful to self; Compromising values and integrity to avoid rejection or anger; Taking on others’ feelings as your own; Accepting sexual attention instead of the love you want; Putting aside own interests to do what others want; Fear of expressing feelings and opinions when they differ from others; Giving up own truth to gain approval of others.
  4. Control Patterns: such as Believe most people are incapable of taking care of themselves; Trying to convince others what to think-do-feel; Becoming resentful when others decline help or reject advice; Using sexual attention to gain approval and acceptance; Manipulating by using charm and charisma to convince others of capacity to be caring and compassionate; Pretending to agree with others to get what you want.
  5. Avoidance Patterns: such as Acting in ways that invite others to reject, shame, or express anger toward you; Judging harshly what others think, say, or do; Avoiding emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy to maintain distance; Allowing your addictions to people, places, and things to distract you from achieving intimacy in relationships; Using indirect and evasive communication to avoid conflict or confrontation; Suppressing feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable; Pulling people toward you, but when they get close, pushing them away.

Empowerment

Empowerment is the cure to codependency. It is the belief and awareness that we have the capacity to make choices and can take desired actions that affect positive outcomes. In other words, we know who we are, can stand up for our beliefs and values, and believe that we can have an effect on our choices in the world. Empowered people take actions to meet their goals and have a sense of confidence that they can achieve those goals. Empowered people also recognize that set-backs are not failures, but simply opportunities to increase the effectiveness of their actions.

Increasing the sense of personal power requires that we work through issues of shame, worthlessness, and victimization. It also requires practical application – making small goals and achieving them in order to build confidence and a sense of competency in the world.

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Existential Crises / Life Purpose

Existential crises occur when we question the very foundations of our lives, wondering whether our lives have any meaning, purpose or value. Existential issues often follow certain life transitions such as death of a loved one or any major grief, reaching midyears, etc. They also typically arise when people are working with acceptance of the end of their own lives. Sometimes they arise for what seems to be no reason at all – a shift in awareness that causes us to question the point of living. Existential crises often leave people feeling empty, confused, and alone.

Existential crisis is a deeply profound experience, a dark night of the soul which can strip us of everything we thought we knew. It is the time in which we are brought to our knees in order to learn to stand again more solidly. Existential crises are nothing less than the sacred walking through the valley of death following which we learn that we are, in fact, not alone. No counselor can cure an existential crisis for it is not an illness, though it does feel like a sickness of the soul. Existential crisis is a deeply personal rite of passage that ultimately is between each person and their GodSpirit. As a Spiritual Counselor, my job is to help those suffering from existential crises rebuild a new path to their Higher Purpose.

Food, Body-Image & Eating Disorders

I work with clients struggling with, binge-eating, behaviorally-induced obesity, weight loss, weight gain, yo-yo dieting cycles (also called weight cycling), and negative body image. I work with people to help them learn to listen to their body’s natural hunger and cravings, discover the causative factors in their dysfunctions around food and distorted body images, and to make changes for a more healthful life.

Clients working with food & body image disorders may be required to work with an adjunct health care provider (such as a nutritionist) while working with me. I do not work as primary therapist for those with active Bulimia and Anorexia as eating disorders centers tend to provide the comprehensive care that those struggling with these eating disorders need for successful recovery.

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Women’s Issues & Men’s Issues

Both women and men have issues that are specific to their genders. While it’s unclear how much of who we are as men and women is related to biology and how much is related to culture, there is no doubt that men and women do have different cultures, with different norms, expectations, taboos, and means for keeping “rule-breakers” in line. Learning to live an authentic life often means exploring and challenging gendered cultural norms. Because our self-identity as male or female is typically our strongest identity factor, exploring and challenging these norms can be particularly unsettling. However, in our socialization as male or female, we often sacrifice qualities that are our birthrights. For example, a woman might squash her anger or competitiveness, and a man might squash his vulnerability. I work with clients to help the reclaim all the qualities that are available to them.

Working with gender issues also means I work with people who are confused and/or conflicted about their gender identity or those whose gender identity does not match their biological identity.

Women’s Issues

Because women are still second-class citizens, issues that women face are typically around power, equality, and worth. We also tend to have more issues surrounding weight as, for women, society strongly attaches a woman’s physical appearance to her worth as a human being. For straight women, power dynamics may more intensely arise in partnership, as straight women are in relationship with men, who hold more of the societal power. Also, because our biology allows us to connect more deeply with our emotions and in our relationships, we often have a different need around emotional expression and regulation and relationship satisfaction.

Men’s Issue

While men do have biologically based differences in how they tend to experience the world, much of men’s differences are also culturally mediated. Men’s issues tend to be around getting comfortable with both feeling and expressing vulnerability. Bill Burr, a comedian addresses this in his comedy piece (adult content) that speaks to the training that men receive when their natural impulse for tenderness arises. Watching the full program is actually quite tender underneath as his routine is all about his struggles to be a good partner and unlearn the damaging training on how to be a man.

Men & Women

Note then when I speak to men’s and women’s issues, I often use phrasing like “tend to” and “usually.” I do this intentionally because though we may have patterns according to our particular genders, not each of us experience them. For example, men can have difficulty owning their power and women can have issues being vulnerable. The issues noted per gender above are just a small example – what is really relevant is that every issue we deal with, we deal with in a cultural norm based upon gendered expectations. For example, how do those around us perceive a stay-at-home mother vs. a stay-at-home father? Every experience we have needs to take into consideration the cultural context in which it occurs – part of that cultural context is our gender culture.

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Happiness

Usually when we come to counseling, we’re focused on what’s wrong. Positive Psychology shifts that focus to looking for the good rather than just eliminating the bad. We know a bit about more what leads to happiness through research that’s been conducted, which shows that happiness is not caused by what we typically believe will make us happy. Rich people are not happier than poorer people (except the devastatingly poor) and able-bodied people are not happier than physically disabled people. There are three qualities in living that make up happiness:

  1. Pleasant Life: General good cheer, which is largely biological. We have a biological predisposition to be of more good cheer or less. But, we each have a range of potential so we can live in more of the top range or bottom range of our cheer potential. This also includes the kind of practicalities that make living fun.
  2. Immersion: Not what we typically think of when we think of happiness. Immersion is what happens when we are fully engaged in something, writing a book, painting, web design, building a fence, etc.
  3. Meaningful: We each need to know that what we do in the world matters, that we are using our strengths in service to something bigger.

I take a strength-based approach to healing and happiness.  Cultivating a meaningful, engaged and pleasant life, we work towards creating a life that leads to greater happiness and satisfaction.

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Health Issues: Chronic Pain, Illness & Injury

Health problems almost always have psychological issues attached to them. Sometimes the health issues are actually rooted in psychological issues. Sometimes the health problem precedes and creates the psychological issue. Sometimes its difficult to know which came first. Chronic health issues typically result in a variety of symptoms such as depression, grief, dependency, sense of powerlessness, and existential issues to name a few.

I help people to move through the issues that may be causing physical symptoms as well as those issues that arise from physical ailment. I also work with people to help them better tolerate chronic pain and disability. I work with those suffering from a chronic illness or injury as well as their caregivers.

As a person who has a chronic injury and lives with chronic pain, I have had to learn firsthand how to manage my reactions to intense sensations. Having had more surgeries than I can count on two hands, I understand the trauma of repeated medical procedures and disability. Having both therapeutic skill and personal experience to draw upon makes me particularly suited to work with folks with health problems such as disability, chronic pain and injury, and medical-procedure trauma. I also work with folks to teach them how to self-advocate when dealing with medical professionals.

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Healthful Living

Often times people are motivate to live more helthfully because of weight or health issue. but living a healthy life is about more thatn just easting well and exercising enough. living a healthful life means living a sustainable life.

We start by evaluating what kind of life are you living now. What foods do you eat (sugars, starches, proteins, etc.) and what are your eating patterns (in the car, binging, excessively fast, avoidance, etc.). We then look at the other areas in your life that are preventing you from making healthful choices such as being too busy and not getting enough sleep. Because humans do not live in a vacuum and we are complex beings, making healthy choices means looking at our entire lives to ascertain what hinders and what helps. What triggers unhealthful choices? What belief systems or traumatic experiences affect your capacity to make good choices? What systems do you have in place to support a healthy lifestyle? Are you living in accordance with your values and if not, why not? Most attempts to make more healthy choices fail because we do not recognize that we are whole human beings and being healthy isn’t just about increasing exercise and decreasing caloric intake. Being healthy requires that we address our physical, mental, environmental, social, and spiritual needs. For example, if you have a boss who is demeaning, you might react by feeling defeated and not going on that long walk this evening. So, the work is to disconnect your behavior from bosses behavior, while also working towards finding an employer who values your talent.

All healing is a whole life process, we address the health of your Inner World (thoughts, feelings, sensations), Outer World (society, work, food, etc.), and Metaphysical World (spirituality, energy) experiences.

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Integration

We often feel chaotic, confused and unbalanced because we have so many conflicting thoughts and feelings vying for control. This conflict can easily be heard in daily conversations when we say “a part of me feels this way, and another part of me feels that way.” One of the best ways to experience ourselves as whole, healthy, and balanced individuals is to give attention to all parts of ourselves, while locating our grounded and wise Self.  Internal Family Systems is one of the methods used to integrate our various subpersonalities.

Internal Family Systems (IFS)

IFS works with each aspect of our selves as if they were separate personalities with their own needs, desires, wounding, beliefs, etc. For example, the person I am around my mother is very different that the person I am around my boss. It feels different internally and I behave differently externally. Often these parts “take over” our grounded, adult, wise Self. In IFS therapy we work to help that grounded Self to take a greater leadership role within the internal system of parts. IFS therapy is an incredibly effective way to deal with trauma, unmet needs, and integrating the Self into a grounded whole. This type of work does require a level of mindfulness that may not be available to all clients. However, mindfulness can be developed both in session and out of session.

Integrated Counseling

The holistic counseling approach is rooted in the integration of Inner World (thoughts, feelings, beliefs, sensations etc.), Outer World (diet, culture, family, society, etc.), and Metaphysical World(spirituality, energy, etc.) experiences. We cannot experience ourselves as integrated beings until we first become intimately familiar with all the different aspects of ourselves.

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Life Changes & Life Transition

It has been said that the only thing constant in life is change. Sometimes life changes are so significant that it requires navigating foreign terrain. Life transitions can be both negative and positive, and oddly enough, sometimes even the positive changes in life take some adjustment. Examples of life changing events are leaving home, changing careers, moving in with a partner, empty nest syndrome, marriage, divorce, separation, death, disability, and aging. We will work together to help those transitions occur with less pain. Accepting and adjusting to life changes can be facilitated through counseling as well as intentional rite of passage and ritual.

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Living Your Best Life

Many of us struggle with behaviors we either want to give up or behaviors we want to acquire for our own good. We all have behaviors that prevent us from living our best life and likewise, we may not have the motivation or discipline we need to create the life that we want to live. We may not even be clear on what we need to do to get to the good life. This doesn’t have to go on indefinitely.  Life coaching to help you attain the life you dream of. Unhelpful behavior is just a series of unhelpful habits which can be converted into helpful habits. Change is possible. You can work through the limitations that prevent you from changing your behavior to be more in line with your values and goals. In the role of life coach, I focus more on behavioral change and completing the steps necessary to attain a rich and satisfying life.

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Personal Growth & Spiritual Growth

Counseling for Personal Growth

Some people come to counseling even when there’s nothing drastically wrong with their lives – there’s no major craters in the road, but there are some divots they want to work around. Perhaps someone wants to learn to become a kinder person, or how to live more fully in accordance with their values. Sometimes people just want someone to hash things out with that isn’t part of their network of friends or family – there’s a kind of freedom you often get in therapy in knowing you don’t have to moderate yourself for the person you’re talking to.

There is a great interest now in personal growth – just look at the number of personal growth books at your local bookstore or the number of self-growth quotes that appear in the media. Psychology and personal growth work naturally go together. Personal growth work in counseling is also great preparation to the inevitable curve balls life will eventually throw at you. It’s comparable to going to your medical doctor for checkups – its good preventive care.

Counseling for Spiritual Growth

While some of us can feed our spiritual growth needs in religious settings, many of us cannot. In Spiritual Growth counseling, every issue that is addressed is done so with the underlying question, “how can this experience be used for my spiritual growth?” While spirituality is an underlying focus in all the work I do, here the emphasis is very overt. As an ordained minister who honors all spiritual traditions, I can work within your framework of spirituality. If you aren’t clear on your own belief systems about God, spirit and cosmology, I can help you to explore and discover what your deeper truth is.

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Sexual Difficulty, Discovery, Orientation & Identity

I provide nonpathologizing counseling for those questioning and wanting to come to terms with their sexual orientation. I welcome queers, homosexuals, heterosexuals, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, pansexuals, straights, transvestites, cross-dressers, the transgendered and the intersexed. I love working with people to help them increase their own understanding of their sexual identity and gender identity as well as those who are interested in exploring their experience of themselves as sexual beings. My office is a safe place to explore issues related to sexuality such as coming out, prejudice, discrimination, polyamory, BDSM & sexual practices, sexual satisfaction and sexual communication. I honor the diversity of my clients and provide multicultural counseling appropriate to their diversity.

Usually, sexual difficulties are rooted in trauma, anxiety and an inability to be fully intimate and vulnerable with another human being. When working with sexual difficulties we often work with our capacity to assess for and experience safety, which can greatly increase our capacity for vulnerability and sexual satisfaction. As a neotantra (sacred sex) practitioner, I work with sexual difficulties from the framework of both psychology and spirituality. I am passionate about helping people to reclaim their passion because I believe so strongly that having a healthy and shameless sexuality is critical to experiencing ourselves as whole and healthy human beings.

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Shame & Low Self-Esteem

Everyone of us knows what it feels like to feel guilty or shame. Essentially, guilt is what we feel when we behave in a way that violates our internal values. Guilt is biologically based and necessary for humans to learn how to live cooperatively. It’s the rudder that helps us to realign ourselves to our own integrity.  Shame, on the other hand, is something that we feel applies to our entire person.If I’m guilty, I know I’ve done something wrong. If I feel shame, I am wrong. Shame occurs when we’ve been caught violating a social norm, like picking our nose or farting in public. When children are repeatedly shamed, they often grow up to be people who experience chronic shame which prevents them from living a full, confident and satisfying life. Those with chronic shame believe that they are worthless, inadequate or have nothing good to offer the world. This often leaves the person with a deep-seated belief that they are bad, weak, and never enough. Deeply rooted shame is often associated with other difficulties such as low self-esteem, poor self-confidence, poor self-image, self-doubt, self-criticism, emptiness, depression, chronic indecision, and social anxiety.

Counseling is a safe place to explore both guilt and shame and to learn to take appropriate action to relieve guilt (e.g taking right action) and relinquish the shame that binds us. Healing shame is a powerful, life-altering shift which can create significant change in a person’s internal and external world. I provide counseling in order to help clients develop feelings of self-love, create self-care behaviors, and radically accept who they are.

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Spirituality, Religion & God

About 88% of the world’s population believe in some form of god or higher power. Of the remaining 12%, most believe in something, even if that something is science.It seems silly then, that spirituality is too often absent from therapy and counseling sessions unless someone is specifically seeking spiritual direction.

Unlike pastoral counseling, spiritual counseling does not hold any doctrine, nor is it specific to any one religion. Because it holds no religious doctrine, spiritual counseling is applicable to people who orient to the world through a religious and/or metaphysical lens. The only belief that the spiritual counselor holds is that there is a “Something Bigger.” Connection to this Something Bigger (call it God, Buddha, Mother Earth, Energy, Science, or what you will) makes our lives more sane, depthful, and satisfying. Have walked several religious and spiritual paths, it is likely that I will be able to speak your language of spirituality be it JudeoChristian, Buddhist/Hindu, Wiccan/Pagan, Sufi or Muslim.

I help people to deepen into a spirituality that is right for them. When appropriate, I will teach clients spiritual practices (e.g., meditation, psychic protection, mantras, rosaries, rituals) to increase their connection to the Something Bigger. For those who are conflicted, I also help to reconcile their personal convictions with their religious training. I have a deep respect for others’ experience of god/spirit. My respect for difference and my ability to speak the language of God and spirituality means I am able to work with people who have a diverse range of beliefs and values, including those that are atheist.

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Sustainability & Life Balance

Living a Balanced Life

Living in a state of sustainability means that we are able to support ourselves without depleting our resources. Sustainable Living is a goal initiated by the field of ecology as recognition grew that Western and capitalistic cultures are highly unsustainable. It is not surprising then that many of us haven’t any idea how to live emotionally, spiritually, and financially sustainable lives. We don’t know how to balance our time, food, money, external care, self-care and spiritual needs in a way that doesn’t leave one area of our lives depleted. Sustainability-focused counseling helps people to live lives that feel manageable – to create a balanced and sustainable life that builds their internal and external resources.

Financial Sustainability

We are not financially unsustainable when we spend more than we make. Going into debt can only happen so long before we max out our debt potential. Like all unsustainable behaviors, financial unsustainability dynamics lead to unsustainability in other areas. For example, lack of financial resources leads to anxiety. Anxiety leads to decreases in physical health and more illness. Anxiety can lead to depression and relationship difficulty. It can also cause people to make unethical decisions around money due to their sense of fear and deprivation. We may also make loads of money and have tons of extra put in investments and still be unsustainable. If the hours we put in making that money leaves us unavailable for our family, our relationships, our spirituality or need for rest and rejuvenation, then our money-making endeavors do not offer balanced sustainability.

Emotional Sustainability

Being the person who gives all the time, but rarely receives support in return is not sustainable. Eventually we feel depleted and start to give out of habit or obligation, so then the giving becomes a burden. Emotional depletion and lack of support leads to loneliness and depression and may lead to an existential crisis in which we question “what’s the point of life?’ Relationships in which one or both people are codependent are a type of emotionally unsustainable relationship, so is one in which one partner is fully dependent while another must provide for everything.

Spiritual Sustainability

Spiritual sustainability occurs when our relationship to God/Spirit is a support to our lives. When we become so focused on our religion or our spiritual life that we sacrifice our family life, our spiritual life has become unsustainable. By the same token, if we have abandoned our spiritual selves so much that we no longer feel purpose in life, that is also unsustainable. Humans are designed to connect to a Something Greater and we are most at peace when we live in connection to that Something Greater. Now, that doesn’t mean that we all need to believe in God. The Something Greater could be family or scientific exploration, for example. But we all need something.

Sustainability in Life

We can take the value of sustainability and apply it to every aspect of our lives. For example, time sustainability – working too much, volunteering too much, spending too much time fixing up my house, etc. Some other areas of life where sustainability may be an issue are work, sexual expression, and intimacy.

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