I regard relationships as central to the therapeutic process. I work from a blend of psychodynamic, attachment, and developmental perspectives, often combining traditional talk therapies with newer, evidence-based approaches. While talking is important and necessary, when it comes to trauma treatment, it is just as important to not talk. Non-verbal activities and therapies offer important access to the parts of the brain where trauma memory is stored.
I specialize in offering two unique options, outdoor therapy and animal-assisted therapy. Both allow for safe and regulating ways to reach those parts of the brain essential for repair and healing. The list of non-verbal therapies we can incorporate into your counseling is endless, and we’ll work together to figure out how to use your natural strengths and interests to help you heal.
Traditional Talk Therapy
Perhaps you need some help to make a plan for dealing with burnout or secondary or vicarious trauma. Or a little extra support and encouragement while raising your adoptive or foster child. If there’s no need to look at deeper issues, then we can focus our time on supportive and practical matters.
If your concerns and difficulties are especially distressing, which is not uncommon when someone has experienced childhood abuse or neglect, it might be time to take a deeper look into what’s going on. A psychodynamic approach, with an emphasis on development and attachment, can be very effective in helping to you to find a better quality of life, improved relationships, and relief and healing that lasts.
We are lucky here in the Texas Hill Country to be surrounded by breathtaking views of rugged hills, clear creeks, and scenic canyons. While our hills, lakes, and rivers provide us a sense of tranquility and awe-inspiring beauty, many people also naturally turn to the outdoors for comfort and solace during painful, difficult times. Walking along a path, sitting by a creek, or simply enjoying a breeze can calm a person’s distress and ease their grief and sadness.
Clients who have tried counseling sessions outdoors have shared the following:
- Felt more relaxed, less anxious or worried
- It was easier to talk about difficult subjects
- Felt happier, less sad or depressed
- Worked through concerns or problems more easily
- Felt calmer and more peaceful
- Made more progress in that session
- Felt more capable of dealing with life’s difficulties
These client experiences are backed up by research. In addition to numerous physical and cognitive benefits, being in nature, participating in outdoor therapy, has many psychological benefits, including stress reduction, relaxation, improved mood, greater sense of peace, and increased self-confidence.
Where do you do outdoor therapy?
We can sit on the porch outside of my office or find a spot out in the large yard underneath the pecan trees. Or, we could meet away from my office at a park. Some people like to walk or hike as they talk, and others prefer to find a spot to sit.
Some popular options for outdoor therapy away from my office include:
- Johnson Park or Westside Park (2nd Street Park) in Marble Falls
- Inks Lake State Park
- Pedernales Falls State Park
- Doeskin Ranch of the Balcones National Wildlife Refuge (off FM 1431, about 20 min. from Marble Falls and Burnet and about 25 min. from Lago Vista)
Occasionally, I will offer outdoor therapy sessions at sunrise or sunset or during a full moon. These very special times can be meaningful and moving ways to add new perspective to your therapy sessions.
But I’m not really an “outdoor person”.
That’s okay. Some people prefer to be inside my office for all of their sessions. Others may enjoy mostly being inside, but occasionally sitting on the shaded porch just outside my office.
Therapy animals have been a formal part of therapeutic healing and rehabilitation programs for nearly 50 years. The psychological and emotional benefits of animal-assisted therapy are many, such as:
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Reduced depression and loneliness
- Helps therapy feel safer
- Easier to talk about difficult subjects
- Increased relaxation
- Better ability to cope with difficulties
- Increased happiness
- Improved self-confidence
Born in Somerville, Texas, Cooper is an 8 ½ year old yellow Labrador retriever. He is gentle, affectionate, and sensitive, and he provides a steady and calm presence when someone is feeling down, nervous, or upset. He has some social anxiety around other dogs, but loves people. Cooper worked at the Highland Lakes Family Crisis Center with Amy for two years, providing a soothing, and sometimes humorous, presence for Amy’s adult and teen clients. Now in his golden years, his greatest joys are eating, sleeping, and going on walks.
How does it work?
Cooper can be present in your counseling sessions as a calming presence, which can be especially helpful if you are talking about difficult things. He can simply be next to you on the couch, or you can call him to you when you need some extra comfort or a little break during your session.
But I’m afraid of (or allergic to) dogs.
In general, Cooper will be in the office for counseling sessions only one day a week. If you do not wish to have him there, you can schedule your appointment on a day when Cooper is not there. Alternatively, I will have a secure crate available at all times, so if you need to make your appointment on a day when Cooper is there, but do not want him to participate in your session, he can relax in his crate during your session time.
If you are allergic to dogs, please note Cooper arrives to work freshly bathed, which should help minimize shedding and allergens. We also have a cleaning service, which includes regular vacuuming of the carpets and floor. I have an air purifier in my office to minimize allergens, and a hand vacuum, which I will use on the couch after each day Cooper is in the office.