Q & A with Julie
Q: What led you to a career as a therapist?
A: Ever since early childhood, I've always experienced strong, natural empathy and an intense compassion for others. I also am naturally analytical, and have a strong desire to continually learn about and understand all people's perspectives and how they interact. This led me to be very interested in humans as social beings, and how groups of people (whether families, friends, co-workers, community members, nations) relate to and affect one other. When I combined all of that with my long-standing fascination with the human mind, how it works, the role it plays in who we are on all levels (intellectual, emotional, physical, social, spiritual), helping others learn about their mind and emotional self in the context of their relationships and environment in an effort to decrease their struggles and improve their lives seemed like a perfect career fit.
Q: Describe your approach to therapy.
A: First and foremost , I am a regular person. I have conversations with my clients. I am very interested in my clients' ideas and value their opinions in sessions. I believe it is often the back-and-forth in our conversation that produces the most insight, learning, healing, and growth for my clients (and for me as well). And although I always create an environment where my client is empowered to direct therapy the way he or she wants it to go, I will also provide direction as needed to help create goals, focus the work in sessions, and assess progress as we go along.
I have a strong background in family systems theories and cognitive-behavioral and narrative theories, which together guide my approach to therapy. I believe that we can fully understand ourselves and our struggles only when we examine the context or systems in which we live our lives (i.e. our family of origin, our various relationships, our physical environment, social and cultural background and setting, work or school environments, and our community). I believe that understanding how our context affects us, and vice versa, empowers us to more consciously and effectively create positive change. I believe that we continually develop a story (a narrative) in our minds about our history and our identity that may or may not be fully healthy or embrace a person's or family's strengths, and which may in turn contribute to emotional struggles and dysfunctional behaviors. I believe that our patterns of thinking have a tremendously powerful affect on how we feel and on our reactions and the choices we make, and therefore on how we experience life (and the reverse is true as well). Therefore, I believe that addressing the ineffective, skewed, or unhealthy patterns of thinking, perceiving, and reacting can improve one's life profoundly. I also am convinced that combining Western and Eastern psychological theories and philosophies (including mindfulness and meditation) is the key to helping people reach the joy and peace they are looking for.
Q: What kinds of patients do you see?
A: I work with adults … from new adults to old adults. I help individuals and couples who are struggling with depression, anxiety, out-of-control anger, loss/grief, divorce, remarriage, difficulty with phases of, and transitions in, life, and struggles with having healthy and satisfying relationships. I also work with people interested in improving their emotional health, relationships, and sense of peace and satisfaction with their life even though they may not be struggling significantly.
Q: What do you love most about your job?
A: I really like and enjoy people. I love being a part of a person's experience of growth or recovery; it is inspiring and hopeful. I am also continually moved by, and drawn to, the experience of walking side by side with a person who is going through their darkest times, and helping them discover light at the end of the tunnel. And of course I get immense satisfaction from seeing the results of my work: my clients report growing personally, achieving a higher level of emotional health and peace and satisfaction with life as a result of our work together, which is wonderful. Their growth results in healthier and more positive experiences and relationships for them, which often results directly in positive changes in someone close to my client and so on and so forth. So secondarily, this larger perspective on how emotional health is contagious also helps me to satisfy my personal and professional goal of contributing to a healthier and more productive society, facilitating chains of mental, emotional, and relational improvements.