Licensed Psychologist & Owner
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
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 grew up with many family members in the military and watched the change in them as they would come back from tours of duty and the struggles their family endured while their family member was away. Watching first responders manage shifts, stressors of the job, and pressure from society all while trying to support the people they love reminds me of my own family and their struggles. This motivates me every day to learn, support, and educate all that I can.
I received my Master's of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy. I am trained in play therapy and EMDR. I am a lifelong learner and continue to engage in reading, training, consultation, and mentorship.
My training in play therapy has taught me the "language" of children. When children play they are expressing their thoughts, feelings, and anxieties. Play therapy allows me to hear this communication and encourages validation of emotions and experience, change of perception, and resolution.
My training in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) allows me to use many different therapy styles to identify negative beliefs about self and reprocess them to be strengths.
I came across the word: Parakleet in my studies and this truly defines the work with responders. I cannot change the job, co-workers, families, husbands, wives, parents, kids, society, politics, and all the other stresses we experience; what I can do is walk alongside. We all struggle, feel stuck, and feel like we have screwed everything up. Me too. If we can do it together though, share the load, things can feel a bit lighter and we can learn different ways to cope, live and thrive.
I work with kids as long as they are potty trained, families, couples, and individuals.
I was born and raised in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Growing up within a law enforcement family, I knew that no matter what I ended up doing in life I primarily wanted to give back to my community by supporting people. I attended New Mexico State University focusing my studies within healthcare. I began my career in healthcare working alongside law enforcement as a victim advocate and assisting with the sexual assault nurse examiners unit.
In 2018, I relocated to the Pacific Northwest with my husband and our children. Though the days are not as sunny as I was used to living in New Mexico, I love the changing seasons and picturesque landscape. A majority of my experience is in outpatient clinical settings as a Certified Medical Assistant and Phlebotomist.