From a young age I knew I wanted to help people ease their suffering. Many people suggested I become a therapist because of my ability to listen compassionately. However, my first passion was dance. I started at the age of eight, and it was a major part of my life into adulthood. I kept thinking about how wonderful movement and expression could be for helping others, and, when I got older, sought to find a way to incorporate it into healing.
With years of dance training already under my belt, I obtained a BA in Religious Studies. I was drawn to studying the gamut of religious theologies and practices because I was fascinated by people's beliefs, traditions and rituals; I wanted to know what made them tick. This was the blossoming of my study of psychology, as my interest in psychology had budded when I was young girl. I was also always curious about my own thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
As I learned about other cultures through my studies and observations traveling to other countries, I eventually became a student of a Brazilian spiritual tradition, which uses dance, song and drumming as a form a prayer. Over time, I wanted to combine my love for psychology and movement. I began to envision therapy as a complete union of movement, psyche, and spirit that did not separate thoughts and feelings from the physical self.
In my search for a way to incorporate these disciplines into therapy and deepen my knowledge, I pursued study of varying somatic therapies at the Moving On Center in Oakland in 2004. There, I studied Laban movement analysis (a study of body movement based on the work of Rudolf Laban, a dancer/choreographer), Alexander Technique (an approach to changing physical patterns to move more freely and relieve pain), and more.
It was around this time that I discovered somatic psychology. The realization that I could incorporate my love of movement with psychology was exhilarating, and I went on to obtain my MA in the field.
Somatic psychotherapy, for me, meant self-discovery through body awareness. I wanted to be more present in my body, and over time I gained an understanding: how awareness of body sensations, micro movement adjustments, and feeling pleasure in the body could create emotional and psychological shifts. I came to truly understand something I’d only barely grasped before: that the body and mind are connected, and that by healing one you may be able to heal the other.
Throughout this journey, I had chronic gut and hormone issues lasting about 15 years. These were not hugely disruptive to my life, but I did struggle with depression and associated physiological challenges. I realized that depression is multifactorial in origin, and not generally well-understood as such. This deepened my commitment to assist others struggling with all causes of depression. I wanted to find a way to present depression as a disorder that can be linked to body imbalances as well as other, better-understood causes. A naturopath, in 2009, started addressing my issues along with their link to depression.
Another naturopath identified my chronic Lyme disease in 2012. I had the good fortune to not experience what too many chronic Lyme sufferers have: misdiagnoses and dismissal of their experiences, while they continued to be ill.
My path into seeking a comprehensive holistic approach to treat my illnesses was challenging but increasingly successful, and stoked my desire to treat my own clients holistically. As a result, I have a willingness to look at all factors of a client's health to best treat them (and refer, if needed). This experience led me to integrate chronic Lyme disease therapy into my practice.
Concurrently, I became interested in financial therapy upon reflection of my own background with money both in my family of origin and as an adult. I struggled with finances, vagueness around money, scarcity, and deprivation growing up that informed my behaviors and relationship with money as an adult. I had the good fortune of having a supervisor early in my career (at Heart in Balance) who was, and is, an expert in financial issues; she compassionately mentored me as a financial therapist. I worked with her for nine years as a trainee and intern, and was influenced by her holistic therapy approach. That experience shaped my focus and informed my own practice, becoming another specialty of my therapy practice.
Couples therapy and developmental trauma therapy became specialities for me as well, through my studies. The desire to treat couples and trauma survivors arose from a decade of working with various clients and recognizing their needs, as well as realizations from my own healing life journey. I feel very passionate about both areas of practice, and seek to always help people cultivate mindfulness of their feelings, thoughts and behaviors.
With that, my intention with clients is to help them arrive at a place of genuine self-love, the ability to release shame and self-judgment, and to develop resourcefulness in their body/mind/spirit. These outcomes will be the goal regardless of what problems originally brought them to seek somatic psychotherapy or treatment with the other therapy modalities I apply holistically. These are all briefly explained on My Approach page.
I am grateful for the opportunity to help others heal and be a compassionate presence throughout their journey.