In many ways this work chose me. I am the oldest child of a pastor-father and therapist-mother. I grew up doing things like being the chief cook and bottle washer for personal growth retreats, being the guinea pig for Virginia Satir’s latest family therapy intervention, and sitting through family meetings where we talked about what was working and what was not in our family. My siblings and I all laugh about it now and of course it had its advantages and disadvantages. My process of differentiating from my family included deciding to do just about anything other than be a therapist.
After graduating from UNC Chapel Hill where I majored in International Studies, I lived in Japan for two years and traveled extensively. I decided to come back to the United States and get my Masters in Social Work. I was interested in “church social work” and how local churches and small non-profits can be agents of change in society. I attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where the MSW was combined with a year of theological training. I had been raised in a progressive Baptist home that encouraged an inclusive, well grounded interaction between our faith and the world. Upon graduation I worked at an interfaith homeless shelter and then a small non-profit involving youth in community service opportunities. At that point a job came open in the local United Way agency as a therapist under supervision of a mentor I trusted, and I was intrigued and wanted to learn from him. I gave it a try and found that I loved the work. I have not wanted to do anything else for the past twenty years. I found a kind of energy in me that wants to be connected with people shifting out of old patterns and seeing new ways of interacting with those “stuck” places in their lives. I wanted to embrace the opportunity of walking alongside those who are suffering, who need to be heard and who are ready to create change.
I enjoy working with people in transition, those who are grieving or traumatized, couples, anyone who feels stuck, confused or overwhelmed with their life. I like partnering with each person or group to figure out together what is getting in the way of their opportunities to be fully alive. I know that therapy is part of a holistic intervention that takes seriously the dynamic interplay between our minds, bodies, and spirits. By creating a safe environment where compassionate listening occurs, new and deeper connections to our inner and outer resources can be made. I see people relax into a more openhearted engagement with themselves and the world. My attraction to “church social work” has come full circle and I see transformations happening in individual lives that ripple out into the world. The world needs people who are present and awake.
This work calls me to be fully alive myself. Through the years I have been in therapy, both individual and couple. The past twenty years, I have engaged the Enneagram as a path of deep connection with myself, others and God. I have studied with Cynthia Bourgeault in her Wisdom Schools and have a daily contemplative practice. Periodically I offer Wisdom circles for those wanting more of an immersion in the Wisdom lineage. I have completed two full years of training in Internal Family Systems Therapy which ties together much of my earlier schooling into a user friendly model that enlivens my life and my work. I am trained as a Spiritual Director and offer individual and group Spiritual Direction. The Enneagram, Wisdom work and Internal Family Systems offer a “three legged stool” that provide a map of engaging myself and my work in ever deepening ways.