I went to college wanting to be an actress and, after getting my BFA in theatre from Boston University in 1988, came back to Northern Virginia where I’ve lived since 1974 and began working in local theatre. I waited tables to pay the bills and also worked in local preschools for several years where I learned quite a bit about dealing with children as both an assistant teacher and teacher. Wanting a career change to one where I could actually make a living drew me to counseling. I found what I enjoyed most about acting was what I also liked about counseling—trying to understand what motivates people and how they interact with others. So this led to my attending Marymount University and getting my MA in counseling in 1996.
Before graduating I interned at The Women’s Center in Vienna where I began working with individuals, couples and groups. I instantly found myself very energized and interested in helping couples improve their relationships. After graduating, I continued working for The Women’s Center through a grant-based program they established in Alexandria which was designed to help reduce child abuse by providing counseling to parents and children in high-stress environments.
In 2003 I took the exciting step of starting my private practice which gave me the wonderful opportunity to be my own boss (though now I have no one to complain to if things aren’t working in my office!). In the years since then I’ve continued to further my knowledge of working with couples. I did post-masters study at Virginia Tech’s Marriage and Family Therapy program in Falls Church and have completed level 2 of John Gottman’s Couples Training. Through this additional training I’ve learned the essential tools for helping couples make meaningful changes to reduce conflict and build connection.
In 2002 I had the life changing experience of losing my mother to cancer after a long 5 year battle. This was the starting point for my strong desire to help people with grief. I read every grief book I could get my hands on and made it the focus on my continued education efforts. It’s been my privilege to sit with people struggling through this most painful time of their lives and it’s incredibly satisfying to see them start to heal.
Having been involved in theatre I’ve always known and loved people from the LGBT community. I’ve never understood how anyone could be upset about who someone else loves but over the years I saw the heartbreak some of these people endured as they struggled to figure out how to tell people about who they were and how they had to deal with some very negative reactions from friends and loved ones. This inspired me to make working with individuals and couples from the LGBT community another focus of my counseling practice.
I enjoy traveling, particularly if there is a beach involved. I also love movies and all manner of Netflix shows. One of my favorite pastimes is photography and have used several of my own pictures in decorating my office and to accompany the articles on my blog. But the highlight of my life is my family which includes my husband of twenty years and my two teenage children. In addition to my experience teaching preschool raising my children has provided me with life experience and intimate knowledge of the incredible ups and downs of pregnancy and parenting. I try to practice what I preach to clients about the importance of life balance and having fun.