Growing up, human behavior was always a particular interest of mine. When I went to college, I was certain I was going to be a therapist. But then my life took a series of twists and turns – as happens to so many of us – and I found my direction had changed. After several years in the arts and operating my own business, I came to realize that I needed to find a higher purpose in life, beyond making a good living.
Realizing that what I truly wanted to do was help others work through their challenges, I returned to school and earned my Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. I have served as a staff therapist at New Leaf Resources, based in Lansing, Illinois and worked for several years as a counselor and counselor-supervisor. Additionally, I have counseled numerous patients at Living Hope, the psychiatric unit of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas, and at Capstone Treatment Center, a residential treatment facility for teens with chemical addiction. These experiences allowed me to continue refining my approach while working with and treating a variety of challenges, from anxiety and depression to relationship difficulties.
As I continued to work with individuals and couples, I saw how personal challenges impacted family systems – and vice versa. I took a position as Staff Therapist at Shults-Lewis Child and Family Services – a treatment center for troubled teens and their families – where I spearheaded and co-created a parent-training and family coaching program called The Shults-Lewis Family Institute. The Family Institute is aimed at addressing problems such as communication, stress management, anger management and conflict resolution. Having led numerous workshops on these topics has been of great value in my private practice. My work with the Family Institute led me to delve deeply into the negative impact of ineffective communication and poorly managed anger, stress and conflict on both individuals and couples. It also provided a treasure trove of information from the participants themselves. One of my mentors once told me, “Your clients will teach you to do therapy.” He was absolutely right.
Seeking professional help takes courage. Once that decision has been made, you have surmounted the first hurdle. My role is to provide hope and encouragement, as well as instruction and counsel. I am comfortable and experienced in working with a diverse population from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds. I respect your closely held beliefs. Each individual has a fascinating life story to tell, and I wish to honor the value of each person’s story.
I live and work in Valparaiso, a pleasant town about an hour from downtown Chicago. I enjoy getting into the big city, where I lived for many years, for some good ethnic cuisine now and then. When I’m not at the office or out of town, I like to cook, watch old movies and play with my dog, Nikki, a border collie mix. I also work out at our spectacular local YMCA – a brisk mile and-a-half walk and a workout on the weight machines while the headphones play feel-good music does wonders for the body and soul. When I laugh, I laugh heartily, and there’s a good reason for that. My mom went through devastating times early in life, and she was a great role-model with a wonderful sense of humor. To her I owe a debt of gratitude for demonstrating the importance of laughter – especially the ability to laugh at ourselves – in helping us carry on, no matter how tough things might get. To mom and dad, I dedicate this work.
When you are willing to see things differently, you will be able to generate your own solutions and discover pathways toward growth and healing. In this way you will feel empowered, growing independently until you no longer need therapeutic services. If you are ready to begin addressing and overcoming your challenges, please give me a call at (219) 309-3928 for a free 15-minute phone consultation.