Thanks for taking the time to check out my new blog. I’m excited for being able to reach out and explain some of the common conditions/diagnoses I treat as well as explain some of the treatments that I utilize. But for my first blog post I thought it would be appropriate to provide some information about me. People often think of therapy as a one way transaction where you know very little about your therapist. And to some extent that’s true. The wonderful thing about therapy is it is all about you. At the same time, I also believe that if you are going to invest your time and resources towards your mental health, you deserve to know a little about your therapist as it pertains to their practice.
While I love my job now and the effects it has on people’s lives, I didn’t always want to be a therapist. I knew I wanted to make a difference in some way, but wasn’t sure how. I thought that maybe someday I would go into diplomacy. So I majored in International Relations while living in Houston, TX, and a month after graduating I elected to volunteer in the Peace Corps. I was assigned a position in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet country in Central Asia. The experience was not what I had anticipated. I thought, perhaps naively, that I was going to make a difference in people’s lives on a grand scale. Ultimately that experience shaped my thinking on what it meant to make a difference. I returned from Peace Corps in 2008, which coincided with our economic collapse and recession. Unemployment rates were near 10% and I felt compelled to take the first job I could get, which was in commercial lending at a bank. I hated it. I didn’t feel like I was contributing in a meaningful way. I had no direction. I finally decided, in my late twenties, that I wanted to return to school to receive a masters degree in clinical psychology. It was the best decision I made, but at the time it was scary and a huge risk with so many unknowns.
While in graduate school, I realized that I had a strong desire to specialize in treating OCD and Anxiety disorders. One of the elite places in the country to treat OCD was at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin. I felt compelled to take a position there, so I had to take a risk. I left my hometown of Houston, my family, as well as then-boyfriend (now husband) to move across the country to work in a state I never anticipated living. This was scary. I didn’t know how long I would be gone. Eventually a position opened up that allowed us to transfer to Tampa where my new fiancé was also able to transfer. This new position allowed me to be trained by one of the best clinicians and researchers of OCD, Dr. Eric Storch.
I knew I wanted to open up a private practice eventually, but I had many worries and excuses not to. I had to hold myself accountable by being honest with myself, facing my own fears and choosing to not allow them to dictate my decisions. After a lot of ground work to get my practice started, as well as creating a local affiliate of the International OCD Foundation, I finally opened my practice in 2016 while being 7 months pregnant. It wasn’t the best timing, as my daughter decided to make her way into this world a month early. (I have come to find that this strong will, and maybe a touch of impatience, was very fitting of her personality!) It was a whirlwind to say the least, yet looking back on it all, I would not have changed a thing.
Clients often asked me why I specialized in treating OCD and anxiety disorders. I’m often told something like “it’s like you know what I’m thinking without me ever even saying it.” The answer is rather simple. Even though I might not suffer from OCD or a specific anxiety disorder, I face many of these issues myself. We all do. Everyone has intrusive thoughts and irrational fears at times. Really the primary difference between someone with a diagnosable disorder and someone who does not is the level of distress and the tendency to get stuck. I conceptualize OCD and anxiety disorders as the brain is sick, just like if someone were to have a physical ailment that requires some sort of treatment or intervention. The obsessions and worries make sense to me because they attack what’s most important to you.
One of the things I love about specializing in OCD and anxiety disorders is that by utilizing behavior therapy, clients get meaningful, positive changes, and often quickly. People are typically shocked at how quickly they can start implementing changes and see improved quality of life, job satisfaction, and improved relationships with those they love. This is one of the parts of my job that makes me feel so satisfied. I am happy to be able to promote positive change to individuals on a daily basis.
This is not to say that treatment is easy. It is not. But as an expert in treating these disorders, I know how to push clients in a way that won’t discourage them. When undergoing behavior therapy, you need a therapist who can push you and not be influenced by your own lack of confidence and anxiety. It’s my job to not internalize your fear, remain clear about the goals and not allow a client’s compulsions to interfere with treatment.
Throughout my life I have learned that the things I’m most proud of were a product of some element of risk and acceptance of uncertainty. Regardless of the diagnosis or the struggles, my only hope and motivation is to encourage and help clients be able to take their own risks. It’s ok to be scared, but it’s not ok to allow fear to pave your way in life. If you don’t know how to take the steps needed to build confidence and live the life you want, call or email me. I’m here for you.