Therapists are discouraged from disclosing too much about ourselves because our work is not about us, it’s about our clients. As a therapist, however, my greatest assets come not only from my education and training, but from my lived experiences. It’s obviously necessary to be well educated and trained to provide ethical and effective therapy over a sustained period of time; it’s equally important to be able to empathize and authentically connect with my clients because I, too have suffered and struggled in similar ways.
Growing up on the prairies of Saskatchewan, Canada, I felt directionless, wild and confused. Full of energy and angst, I began to study dance as a way to harness my energy and find expression. Looking back, I had unknowingly inherited unresolved intergenerational trauma that was lodged in my nervous system and causing symptoms of social anxiety and depression. I think dance became a way to process the pain of loneliness and disconnection I felt from my wounded, unavailable parents. Dance saved me, and when I graduated from high school, I moved to Montreal, then Toronto to continue to study and train. From there, I began a 20-year career in musical theater, which ultimately brought me to New York City where I performed on Broadway for several years.
My body was my instrument and like any professional athlete, I knew my career wasn’t going to last forever. And while dancing had led me to a successful career on Broadway and by all external measures I "should" have been happy, I was still deeply suffering from my personal and historical traumas. I was lost, full of anxiety, distrustful of myself and others, and depressed more often than not. In other words, as a sentient being, I was experiencing all the symptoms of my unresolved issues that were preventing me from feeling free.
I began my journey of self-healing in earnest in 2006 when I dove into my own therapy and decided to go back to school to redirect my creativity and passion from the performing arts to the healing arts. Gratefully, through my psychotherapy training, my contemplative practices and my lived experiences, I learned many helpful paths that led to peace of mind, self-compassion, authentic living, healthy relationships, a successful career and self-actualization. I am now so honored to have the privilege of helping others feel free from their long-held burdens, as well!
Perhaps the coolest thing about becoming a therapist was discovering that my body is still my instrument. Drawing upon the work of Peter Levine and Bessel Van der Kolk, I learned that when it comes to trauma, the body keeps the score. For clients seeking to heal in this way, we start by slowly reconnecting back to our bodies. I help my clients become mindful of their bodies, guide them back to embodiment after trauma, and to trust their body's innate capacity to heal through unfreezing memories and allowing emotional energy to flow. Even for those clients who do not identify as trauma survivors, embodying and connecting receptively to inner experiences often provides a brand new and very effective way of working with whatever brings them into therapy.
My therapeutic work is also informed by Daniel Siegel’s interpersonal neuropsychology and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. As a mindfulness-based practitioner, I attune with my whole self, mind and body, in my therapy sessions by remaining open to the flow of energy and information within me and between me and my clients. I believe it’s this unspoken realm of interconnectedness that creates a space for my clients to feel safe to emerge and explore.
Therapy with me is active, creative, and rooted in behavioral interventions. It is not enough to talk about our problems. If we want to change, heal and grow, we must feel what we've been afraid to feel, let go of unhelpful thoughts, beliefs and identities, and choose to act in ways that benefit us rather than harm us. Change isn't easy, even when we want to change. I'm here to guide you through the process.
I am truly excited for you to move beyond the stuckness and discomfort you may be experiencing in your life today. I am living proof that with support, acceptance and practice, it is possible to unburden from suffering and to feel free.
I hope my story of change has inspired you to change your story.