My Approach to Therapy
While I do not expect anyone to feel "comfortable" when we first start working together, I do believe it is important for therapy to feel safe, non-judgmental, and supportive. In working with issues related to sexuality, my intention is often to simply give someone an opportunity to talk about things they feel they normally can't talk about. Permission, validation, and normalization are a huge priority especially in the first stage of treatment.
I strongly identify in both my personal life and in my therapeutic practice as a feminist. This means that I believe not only in the inherent right to equality for every gender, but I also value social justice and the questioning of cultural norms. I believe this is an important lens in working with sexuality and relationships.
My Journey as a Sex Therapist
My path to becoming a therapist began, as it does for many, in my childhood. Though the idea to get my doctorate degree in psychology was a couple decades away, as a child I was prone to curiosity, imaginative daydreaming, and a desire to understand and connect with people. Like many people in the "helping professions," as I grew up I naturally became the person that my friends (and sometimes perfect strangers) confided in when they were having trouble, offering support and doing my best to construct "words of wisdom." It was not until my first personal experience as a client of therapy in my twenties that I realized I could take this part of my identity and turn it into a fulfilling career.
Along the way I also developed a fascination with hearing people's stories and experiences related to sexuality. Sex, like for so many people, was sort of a mystery to me growing up. I found myself both curious and extremely anxious as I tried to digest and reconcile the imagery I was seeing on TV with the lessons I was learning in church and hearing from my teachers and parents. As I grew older I found that listening to my friends talk about their experiences with sexuality and seeking out education and material wherever I could find it opened my eyes to a whole new world of experience - one in which a person's identity can change and become very different than how they present themselves in their everyday life. While much of what I learned was new and at times personally foreign, people's experiences with sexuality seemed connected and also very...human. I remember constantly thinking "why don't people talk about this more? everyone has a story and they are all super interesting!" Of course I was also hearing about and experiencing for myself what many people do in regards to sexuality - feelings of shame, uncertainty, and confusion when again the plethora of images in the media didn't match up with my own experiences. I am still learning about all of the mixed messages, mountains of misinformation, and profoundly negative experiences people have with sex. When I decided to become a psychologist, I knew that helping people talk about, learn about, and explore their sexuality would be part of my job. It is something I am very passionate about and something I believe is vital in exploring physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional wellness.
Fast forward to my completion of graduate school in Chicago and moving to the charming community of Bellingham. My husband and I have loved embracing the geography of the area and learning what it means to be a "Pacific Northwesterner." I feel very lucky to be a part of this community and to serve the people who live here. Experiencing some major life changes moving into my thirties has also allowed me to learn more about the power of intimacy, sexual connection, and self-care. I love what I do and I feel grateful everyday to have the privilege to witness and support others in their experiences.