I began my career as a dispatcher/call-taker for police, fire, & ambulance service. I became a police officer, a member of the Critical Incident Stress Management and Peer Support Team. There, I gained valuable experience helping fellow first responders with their reactions to traumatic events, as well as the day-to-day wear and tear of the job.
My dad was an officer for almost 40 years so I grew up a policeman's daughter. This experience helps me understand what it's like to be affected by the police member's work.
I've also been happily married to an officer for 20 years (and counting!). Again, this gives me another perspective, another source of understanding.
I believe experience as a first responder and my work with them has been my greatest teacher. But I have also formally prepared to assist first responders to be mentally healthy. I earned a PhD in Counseling Psychology and an M.S. in Criminal Justice. I trained in EMDR, the recommended treatment for trauma. I studied factors that influenced officers' ability to cope with traumatic stress, factors that helped officers maintain work-life balance, and the decision-making processes of seasoned first responders regarding leaving the job. I've studied the work of others to better my understanding of the impact of the work to prepare compelling arguments for better services and coverage for mental injuries from the job.
My heart is in my work. When I was an officer and peer support team member, I found a shortage of mental health providers who understood the unique nature of the work. I realized my greatest contribution would be to fill this gap. I've taught other providers what I know about the first responder culture but there's no substitute for experience. I get it. I've had many roles in the last 20+ years in the profession: dispatcher/call-taker, victim services, police officer, and clinician. I've also had the benefit of decades of personal roles: daughter, wife, and friend of officers. All of these experiences have given me a well-rounded understanding of the impact of the work.
I declare my purpose is clear and true that I will continue to be a powerful healer and helper of all mankind. Few can boast a history of amenity with over 21-years of working as a professional firefighter/ paramedic. Conjointly I served in the U.S. Army initially as a combat medic and eventually retired a Captain in the Army’s Medical Service Corp. I have responded to literally thousands of emergency calls. Lastly, helped bind up the brokenhearted when medical interventions could no longer stave off death. A remarkable career in EMS has prepared me well to become a counselor.
In addition to the training I received in the U.S. Army and as a professional firefighter/ paramedic, I have a Master’s degree in Marriage, Family and Couples Counseling from George Fox University. As a Student Intern, my work is supervised by Clinical Supervisor, Pat Thompson, OBLPCT License #1383; National Certified Counselor #54140
Service for the public good has been a driving force in my personal and professional life since before my aspiring new career into the mental health field. Of all the calls regardless of circumstance, the most relevant moments involved connecting and engaging with the people who called 911. I have a unique history of being able to meet people where they are.
Regardless of color, creed, sexual orientation, religious practice, political views, social-economic status, or circumstance, my empathy and ability to build effective rapport is what routinely shows up in the room when I’m engaging with patients or clients. I strive to commiserate with people and understand their circumstances and to collaborate with them to make things better when and where possible. For me, it’s always been about people.