If you are a prospective client, employee, or anyone else looking for mental health therapy or training – no matter what brought you here today – I want you to know that I have personal experience with what it’s like to feel doomed about the future or to have profound sadness about the past. If you are in some sort of pain that appears or is in fact inescapable and have been struggling with something for a while now, you may notice that you are telling yourself you are weak, lazy, there is no God, there is no point or concluded you are broken because you keep falling into the same hole. I hear you and want you to know there is hope even when hope appears so far away it may as well be impossible.
As a therapist, trainer, and leader, I have a passion to help you uncover, understand, and move through life-disrupting pain while identifying and creating unique innovative plans toward your deeply held values. This passion has its origin from a few seasons in my life, where I deeply struggled with active and untreated anxiety, trauma, and substance use disorder, attending addiction treatment multiple times at multiple levels of care. Earlier in my life, I relapsed after nearly five years of continuous sobriety and it was devastating to me both personally and professionally. My struggle with substances was an attempt to numb both painful past experiences and my debilitating and chronic anxiety disorder that persisted for years in my active and vigorous efforts to stay sober. My naturally highly sensitive aptitude for emotion (sometimes I feel like I have a spidey sense for emotions) in myself and others only heightened my sensitivity through attempts to avoid unpleasant emotions/sensations.
I noticed as the time passed with this pain/avoidance cycle eventually felt like an exposed nerve of emotion (anxiety/panic/apathy) in previously low emotion situations. Apathy took over my life and tasks like showing up for work, taking a shower, spending weeks/months 99% alone, never returning phone calls. Depression took over my life and I started giving away thousands and thousands of dollars, or my voice/opinion when depressed/suicidal or to other people, approval-seeking.
Embarrassingly, this emotional pain avoidance cycle/phenomenon was like a snake that ate its own tail of anxiety, depression, and chemical dependency and only led me to an increase in the frequency, intensity, and duration of my attempts to escape my own emotional/physical pain (drugs, alcohol, work, food, electronics, etc.) which, paradoxically only worsened that very same pain. I have felt 100% nuts for multiple periods of my life. It has been my experience that unfortunately, this pain avoidance cycle often leads myself and many others I know and love that stay alive to tell their story to increased depression, suicidality, and profound despair.
After years of hard work in my own therapy, developing and using support systems and skills—which I rely on to this day—I can now say that I am a person who no longer endlessly struggles with addiction or other means of endlessly escaping pain only to have it return stronger. I have and continue to rely upon periods of time that alternate between living in service of abstinence-based models, and as I have struggled with periods of chronic emotional/physical pain I have lived in service of harm reduction models.
This flexibility with addiction/trauma treatment personally and professionally has been borne of a study and experimenting with the philosophy/psychology of functional contextualism and radical behaviorism, and it’s informing the variety of existing addiction treatment and trauma treatment approaches like third-wave CBT Acceptance and Commitment Therapy et al. When one has seemingly exhausted non-narcotic interventions and is confronted with inescapable physical/emotional pain and offered the relief that prescribed psychotropic/mood-altering substances provide – it can be life-changing. This intervention is ideal if done with a team of professionals helping in a variety of life domains (diet, sleep, exercise, etc.). No matter the path and engagement in varied domains, it has been my experience that at times periods of abstinence are required and at other times periods of harm reduction are the most useful path. I have also observed that when one becomes skilled enough to accept or change the previously inescapable and seemingly intolerable pain, often the interference of pain in our lives diminishes substantially.
Ultimately, addiction and trauma treatment come with a variety of approaches/conclusions. Healing is a deeply individual choice with many paths. I aim to walk alongside and uncover which path is most useful to those I provide therapy with, train, or connect with otherwise. I take the time to share some of my stories and perspective because walking out of the hell of an active, untreated addiction provides me with a unique perspective that can be useful to others I serve as a helping professional.
A little more about my professional philosophy (I am learning I love to write!): it revolves around continuously uncovering/reconnecting with and creating a meaningful life while contacting inner and outer wisdom to either accept, defuse, or change life’s inevitable variety of pain. It is overwhelming to consider the amount of pain at this moment for so many if one is still enough. I have been privileged to witness that on the other side of my worst, most unwanted pain, with a posture of dignity for holding my pain compassionately, are the things I care about most in this world. I invite those I work with to do the same. As Dr. Kelly Wilson states, “We may find that what is most personal is most general.”
In addition to writing, I love to learn, especially how to better serve those lost in an unwinnable war of ridding themselves of negative feelings. I’ve found the struggle with needless suffering has roots in unresolved trauma and an inability to direct our awareness to put our minds on a leash. This lack of skill with handling our own mind’s thinking, predicting, planning, and ruminating can often lead to unavoidable and endless misery.
My aim as a trainer or a therapist is to help you create individualized and unique scalable patterns of values-based behavior chains to instantly apply to your own or others’ lives. These empirically validated strategies can help one break unhelpful patterns and move them toward a life ready to start building and dreaming about.
Once we learn how to show up to our own problematic thoughts and painful experiences with new skills, we can reduce the impact and influence of those same painful things that trigger avoidance behavior like drugs, alcohol, and staring at your phone during important times in your life. Pivoting out of avoidance can help us find clarity and engagement with what we care about deep in our hearts. I have found that my own path to liberation from suffering has included learning and being reminded to practice these skills to unhook from problematic thoughts, feelings, and memories—skills that I would have likely never found without help.
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in the state of Utah. I work part-time as a psychotherapist with clients who are struggling primarily with addiction and anxiety issues. I also love training and teaching our clinical mental health team at Kaizen Center for Mental Health. Additionally, I provide Motivational Interviewing and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy training for mental health agencies and occasionally guest lecture at the University of Utah. My educational background includes a Master of Social Work from the University of Utah with an emphasis in substance abuse treatment and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Utah State University. Prior to working as a mental health therapist, I worked as a corporate coach and trainer at a few sales and marketing companies in Utah.
I have extensive post-graduate training and utilize the following therapeutic modalities:
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
I am fascinated with understanding how humans leverage deeply held values to transform and liberate us from suffering and misery into vitality and hope. I aim to challenge myself, and those around me, to live life with intention and to remember our “why” in both personal and professional endeavors.
Request an appointment today and let’s begin your journey of improvement.