Who I Work With
In the past, I've provided therapeutic services as an associate and Licensed MFT to K-12 youth in various school settings, youth placed in "high intensity" Special Education classrooms in San Francisco, Oakland, San José, and Cupertino, neurdivergent youth in nature-based settings, university students, and system involved youth in a county juvenile correctional facility. I enjoyed some of this work, but ultimately couldn't sustain financially or emotionally in any of the positions I held. I have become increasingly disillusioned by our mental health care system as I've spent more years in the field and have struggled with working in deeply problematic systems. I still love working with youth and feel proud of the work I've done even in these problematic systems, but I'm not interested in upholding these systems through my active participation in them.
Currently, I'm working with primarily college students and young adults ages 19-39. I frequently work with themes like: body image, perfectionism, trauma (current/past/historical), navigating systems (disability services, education systems, mental health systems, juvenile justice systems, family systems), organization difficulties, communication skills, conflict resolution skills, sexual and relational health and well being, boundaries, creativity/expression, self-advocacy, raising-social consciousness to co-create a more pleasant existence on this planet, for this planet. I work with a lot of fellow queer-dos, artists, fatties, free spirits... or those who aspire to feel or do different things in their life. Fuck the box.
How I Work With People
My over all process follows the familiar template-- introductions, building a strong relational connection, assessment, clarifying goals/themes, and contact over time until the desired shifts occur (or until goals are adjusted). I consider the first 10 or so sessions an assessment phase. This is when I'm more intentionally asking you questions to learn about your biological, psychological, social, and cultural background. I'm paying attention to what you're saying, how you're saying it, what your body is doing, what you're not saying... I use a combination of exploratory questions, creative/expressive art activities, resource sharing, targeted intervention, shifting conceptual frameworks, life lessons, and your own intuitive wisdom to support you through your experience. Some of this is informed by my education as a therapist and a lot of it is informed by my own journey, other training I've done in Ecotherapy, and my love of Philosophy (epistemology, ethics, intersectional feminist theory, constructivist theory, other post-modern perspectives, existentialism, nihilism), my connection to the natural world, my training in systems thinking, liberation psychology, and my creativity as an artist.
In general, we process, we digest, we analyze, we agonize, we learn about feelings, we challenge beliefs, we make commitments to ourselves, we learn to hold ourselves in wonder and with kindness (that's the hardest part). We celebrate wins! We acknowledge and grow from losses. The work of being a human is literally continuous-- there's always something. We shift, redefine goals. New things happen, life keeps moving.
We can part ways at any time, but trust that I'll say goodbye and honor our time together if given the chance. For folks who I resonate with me, we can work together for years. It is truly a gift to be with people over time! Coaching doesn't just have to be reactive to treat psychological suffering-- in fact it's a great preventative form of care. Coaching is not worksheets. You should like your coach at least a little and feel comfortable with them-- if you don't, you're not going to be able to do very deep work. I won't be everyone's cup of tea, but for the right folks I'm great.
What's the Difference Between Therapy & Coaching?
Coaching and psychotherapy are not the same, but can be very similar. Currently, psychotherapy is highly regulated at the state level. It’s the state governments that get to define the parameters of the field, set requirements for education, and create entities that represent mental health “consumers.” While there are several professional associations that licensed professionals are encouraged and pushed to join, these associations are not currently adequately addressing the mounting issues the field is facing. Each professional license has its own unique scope of practice and even though they do many of the same tasks and provide similar services, professionals are siloed by their licenses– Marriage and Family Therapists are different from Social Workers who are different from Psychologists who are different from Professional Clinical Counselors, etc. You can learn more about the challenges this creates on Sara’s blog.
Coaching is currently a relatively unregulated parallel field– a silo of its own often looked down upon by licensed mental health providers. There are coaching education programs and certifications, but this is not regulated to the same degree that other professional mental health licenses are and specific education and training is not required at this time. Anyone can technically be a coach. Professionals can determine for themselves if they’d like to provide coaching services around a specific topic or more general support. Currently, psychotherapy is traditionally conceptualized as working with a person’s past or using highly guarded psychological theories and interventions to support insight, personal growth, and symptom reduction. Coaching is often conceptualized as working with a person’s future and is more goal specific. This distinction is quite arbitrary– a person’s past, present, and future experience are not so distinctly separated; we’re all whole and real healing happens when all of these aspects of ourselves are integrated and honored. Psychotherapy, at least in its modern form, is also guided by goals. I am not providing traditional psychotherapy or coaching; I am intentionally occupying the gray area in between until needed shifts can take place within the field of mental health or until the coaching field becomes more regulated. I will continue my learning journey regardless and make this information public for accountability and transparency. You can learn about what I'm doing to further my learning here.