- A sense of being “stuck”
- Perfectionism, feelings of shame, and the hustle to feel worthy
- Major life changes and transitions
- Relationships with partners, friends, and family members
- Oppression related to minority status
- Difficulties with self-compassion and self-esteem
Please see below for more information about some of our favorite areas of focus.
- Strength Based Therapy
We believe that growth and change start with what’s already going well for you. Because of this philosophy, we want to help you tap into your strengths to help you feel better and make changes in your life! All of the therapists at Through the Woods Therapy Center practice from a strength-based perspective. What this means is that we believe it’s our job to help you mobilize the strengths and resiliencies you already have to overcome the challenges you’re facing and the pain you feel. We’re not reinventing the wheel – we’re working with the fantastic stuff you already bring to the table. If you’ve been in therapy before (or seen therapists on television), this may sound unconventional to you. A lot of the therapy field is pathologizing – that is, full of people who want to tell you how you are wrong or broken. But we don’t think you’re broken. We think you’re human, beautifully imperfect, and doing the best you can. This doesn’t mean things can’t change. On the contrary, we believe in the “paradoxical theory of change,” which says that the best way to make improvements in your life is to start by accepting yourself as you are. Because we believe that you are the expert in your life, we are committed to developing therapy goals that are aligned with your own goals for yourself. We don’t have an agenda of our own – we are here to help you tap into your best self and live the life you’re seeking.
- Identity Journeys
Who am I and where am I going? If these are the questions you’re asking, you’re on an identity journey – figuring out who and where you are and who and where you want to be. These questions seem so intangible, but they can weigh you down. Not having the answers can make you feel like you’re failing or wasting the precious time you have in this life. Your attitude, relationships, career, interests, geographical location, and other aspects of your life comprise who you are. Are you happy with the way you feel and the life you’re living? You may be asking yourself, “should I stay or should I go?” These questions can weigh you down and make you feel paralyzed by indecision. Therapy can help you to consider different perspectives on these tangible and spiritual questions of identity, purpose, and direction. While ultimately you have to be the one to make your major life decisions, I can help you to broaden your perspective, tell your story differently, and help you determine where you want to go.
- LGBTQ+ Affirmative
What are gender, sexual, and relationship minorities?
“Gender, sexual, and relationship minorities” is an umbrella term used to recognize anyone who does not identify as heterosexual, cisgender, monogamous, and “vanilla”. Here is a non-exhaustive list of those I serve who are affiliated with these identities:
- Friends and family members
I am an LGBT-affirmative therapist. This differs from being an LGBT-friendly therapist, who will “accept” your sexual orientation or gender identity. Being affirmative, conversely, means that I move beyond acceptance and approach my work with members of gender, sexual, and relationship minorities from the perspective that your experiences, families, and identities are equal in value to those of your heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. I also understand that heteronormative standards don’t apply to every relationship or individual. While some LGBTQQIA people may want similar things to their straight, cis counterparts, many do not. As with any population, my guiding principle is that if you aren’t hurting anyone and you feel good on the inside, you’re probably doing okay. Living outside the mold of mainstream culture can be fraught with challenges. From managing relationships with family members to workplace stress to internalizing harmful messages that a heteronormative lifestyle is somehow “better,” I can help you to navigate this.
Identities as Non-Binary and Fluid
I understand that gender identity and sexual orientation are non-binary constructs, meaning that they fall on a continuum rather than two check-boxes. For sexual orientation, this means that while some people identify as 100% heterosexual and others as 100% homosexual, bisexuality and pansexuality are legitimate sexual orientations. For gender identity, this means that while some people identify as male and others as female, many people identify as genderqueer, male or female of center, or agender, or have a more nuanced and complicated relationship with the idea of gender than can be captured in a single word or phrase. I have worked with many people who can’t simply “check a box” and I will never ask you to “choose one”. I also understand fluidity of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. What this means is that you may feel more attracted to one gender on Tuesday and another on Thursday. It also means that you might identify more with male characteristics one day and female characteristics another day, and on a third day feel decisively in the middle. The way you express your gender may vary from moment to moment. I believe in your right to describe your identity or identities in whatever way feels most comfortable to you, and will honor your pronouns and your self-selected labels (or lack of labels). If you need help to figure out what fits or feels best, I can help you navigate that journey, but I will never stick you with a gender or sexual orientation label that does not feel authentic to you.
I have extensive experience working with clients who have nontraditional relationship structures, including polyamorous and kinky relationships. In some cases, I have helped clients to navigate the intricacies and complexities of polyamory and find safe resources to learn about and practice BDSM. When working with kinky and polyamorous clients, my goal is to support your relationship style while helping you to navigate it safely and with consent of all involved parties. Often, clients who identify as kinky or polyamorous come to see me for concerns that are unrelated to navigating nontraditional relationships in a safe, affirmative environment. My office is a safe space to work on other therapy topics, such as self-esteem, anxiety, depression, stress, dating, trauma, family relationships, and general identity questions, without having your relationship viewed as a form of pathology.
- Feminist Perspective
Feminism is an issue for all genders, and it tackles the limitations that affect everyone. It’s not about women who hate men – it’s about the gender roles and expectations imposed on all of us and the ways that holds us all back. It’s the belief that women are people who are entitled to equality. If you are a woman who feels unheard in the workplace, struggles with her appearance, faces family pressure to get married and start a family, is tired of street harassment, and hates being called “crazy” when she has emotions, our therapists understand and are here to help. If you are a man who has tampered down on any feelings other than “happy” and “angry,” who feels unallowed to grieve when faced with life challenges, who hates being asked if he’s “babysitting” when he watches his children, and who wants more freedom of expression, our therapists understand and are here to help. If you are a transgender or non-binary person navigating the sticky web of your identity, tired of people telling you how you should act or dress, exhausted by daily microaggressions (and sometimes macroaggressions!), and craving the freedom to be your authentic self, our therapists understand and are here to help. According to Brene Brown’s research, the biggest shame trigger in women is body image, and the biggest shame trigger in men is weakness. All of this is related to feminism.
- Culturally Competent
Oppression is a real force in the world around us. Even if you are not subjected to overt acts of violence or verbal assault, you may be exhausted from the day-to-day experience of the assumptions people make about you. Microaggressions – that is, the hundreds of small, daily ways that people respond to, talk to, or treat you because of your race, sex, gender expression, age, disability status, or other minority category – take a toll. We serve people of all cultural backgrounds, and understand that your experience of your culture is unique. We will never try to explain your own racial, ethnic, or national background to you. On the contrary, we want you to educate us about what it is like to walk through the world in your body. We will never deny the reality of your lived experiences. Culture is also more than just the color of your skin. It’s the family, part of the world, or even part of the country where you grew up. It’s the school you went to and the professional industry you’re in. It’s the slang you learned from your friends, and the core values you’ve collected as you’ve walked through this world. It’s the way your unique life experiences have infused themselves into your bones.
I love speaking to groups of people in the community!
People who attended my talks have described my speaking style as “practical and informative” but also “relaxed, conversational, engaged, and interactive”. I have also received feedback that audience members enjoy my inclusion of “relevant stories” and that they left with a sense of how they “can apply the information from the talk to everyday life situations.” I hope to see you at one of my public speaking engagements soon! If you’re interested in booking me to come do a talk for your group, please contact me so that we can discuss it further.
In addition to counseling, I also speak to mental health professionals and laypeople about topics pertaining to mental health and diversity. Here is a list of upcoming dates and topics for talks open to the public:
Mindfulness and Social Media
Monday, April 24, 2017 – 5:45 PM (Workshop begins at 6:30 PM) Do you find that you compulsively check your Facebook page? Is your first thought when having an experience that you should Tweet or Instagram about it? Do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through posts, not really enjoying yourself but unable to pull yourself away? Have you tried to “quit” social media on several occasions, only to find yourself slowly reverting to old habits? Together, we will explore the ways in which social media interferes with your ability to connect with others, and the reasons you find it so compelling. We’ll also take a look at the needs that are being met, and explore ways to meet those same needs through more fulfilling channels.
WeWork Fine Arts Building, Conference Room 2A Cost: $10 or free for DTLA Rendezvous Premium Members Register in advance at Meetup or Eventbrite!
I have been brought in to speak to community members and clinical professionals on a wide variety of topics. Some topics I have spoken on are:
- LGBT 101*
- Self-Care for Busy Professionals
- Self-Care for Caregivers
- Goal-Setting for Lasting Change
- Heroic Journeys: How people heal through immersion in fantasy worlds
- Increasing Assertiveness to Improve Communication
- Setting Loving Boundaries to Improve Your Relationships
- Creating a Healthy Adult Relationship with Your Difficult Parents
- Decreasing Anxiety by Staying in the Here & Now
- Becoming Literate in the 5 Love Languages
- Sexual Communication: 3 Lessons Everyone Can Learn from the Kink Community
- Communication and Safety in Polyamorous and Kinky Relationships
- Understanding Your Privilege
- Emotional Intelligence: What your feelings are trying to tell you
- Decreasing Anxiety by Staying in the Here & Now
- Challenging “Normal”: A New Rule of Well-Being
*indicates event that has been approved for 1 MCLE “elimination of bias” credit for attorneys If you are interested in bringing me in to talk to your group about these or any other subjects, email me to discuss topics, rates, and scheduling.