In 1990, I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Greenville College and a masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy in 1992 at Indiana State University. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Missouri. I have been a Clinical Member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) since 1995. I was the President of the St. Louis Chapter of Marriage and Family Therapy from 2009-2011. I served on the Board of the Missouri Association for Marriage and Family Therapy from 2012-2018 as President-Elect, President, Past President, and Secretary. My theoretical approach primarily stems from Family Systems Theory as developed by Murray Bowen. The approach assesses and develops awareness of multigenerational influences, family relational interactions, and the process of developing emotional independence through individuation (consciously choosing how we interact with others instead of emotionally reacting without forethought).
Two couples therapy approaches I utilize include research and materials developed by John Gottman (What Makes Love Last, 2012) and by Brent Atkinson (Emotional Intelligence in Couples Therapy). Dr. Gottman relies on long term studies he performed which revealed basic interactions of satisfied couples that truly make a difference. Dr. Atkinson highlights neurobiological research recognizing how relational habits form and increasing awareness of ways to improve or change habits. One of his primary concepts includes the phrase "stand up for yourself without putting the other person down". He suggests a sequence of interactions that when followed lead to feelings of equal regard, more productive communication and greater intimacy.
An additional theoretical interest is Internal Family Systems theory developed by Richard Schwartz. This theory can be used to develop greater awareness of Self, identification and understanding of our coping mechanisms, and greater personal integration/integrity and peace. In 2009 I completed the Level I training in this therapeutic approach. In 2013 I completed training in Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) developed by Francine Shapiro (Getting Past Your Past, 2012), which is another approach to resolve and heal from emotionally overwhelming or traumatic experiences.
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