My career path starting at a very early age, I found that I was able to perceive and intuit things about those around me. These insights often provided me with a window into the deeper core level material with which a particular individual might be grappling. In the very beginning, all I could do was to observe, and to know.
That innate ability to tune into others, to feel what they feel, to understand the nature of life patterns, could be a double-edged sword at times. On the one hand, people would turn to me for advice, insight, and support. However, on the other hand, if I was not careful I could become flooded by other people’s emotions and be temporarily distracted from my own self.
At first I struggled to understand and express what I sensed and perceived; to know what was mine versus what was someone else’s. I later learned there was a name for what I was - an intutive empath. Following naturally, the next realisation came that I am an HSP, or Highly Sensitive Person.
While I have come to accept, integrate, and value these gifts as I have grown into an adult and a professional therapist, the road early on was not always easy.
As a sensitive being in the world I could be prone to emotional overwhelm. I struggled with emotional dysregulation, and harmful self-soothing to calm my overstimulated nervous system. As a highy compassionate and empathic being I had to learn boundaries and how to set energetic limits to avoid becoming saturated by other peoples’ energies. This journey taught me to understand the unique experiences of many of my clients.
In addition, I learned to reclaim my own special magic and stand in my own truth as a highly intuitive being. Once I was able to fully embrace this, my path became clearer. Part of this path is to assist others to understand and integrate their own unique traits, so they can live more fulfilled and balanced lives, both on an emotional and physical level.
I have been volunteering since age eighteen. Once my natural inclination became crystal clear, it was followed by formal study and training. Some of my areas of decades of experience include hands-on work with:
- very diverse client base
- issues proceeding from childhood and family
- substance-using populations
- eating disorders
- compassionate care for those living with cancer
- crisis intervention
- sexual and violent abuse
- complementary / alternative / holistic modalities
- bodywork (professional massage)
- HIV + AIDS populations
- those nearing the end of life
I have worked with
As an UK transplant I also welcome individuals who are new to the Bay Area from other parts of the world.
Looking back, I believe that my life journey has coalesced into a path devoted to facilitating others integrating their own gifts to obtain a connection with their authentic self.
How I Work
My career began working with women with severe mental health challenges. I worked with women living with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. This work gave me a good foundation in the complexities of mental health challenges and how they affect communities, individuals, and families.
I came to realise that many of these women had co-occurring issues such as substance misuse. This led to me becoming trained as a drug and alcohol counselor, an area in which I worked for the next eight years.
It is my belief that substance abuse affects most people either directly or indirectly. Working within a harm reduction philosophy, I was able to develop and practice a holistic and multi-layered approach to care. This includes devising a care plan, advocacy, outreach, and delivery of complimentary treatments such as auricular acupuncture.
Offering both Western and Eastern approaches to treatment has given me a great understanding of the need for holistic, individualized approaches to treatment for people struggling with drug and alcohol use.
Seeing this powerful link between psyche and body, I decided to embark upon my Masters in Somatic Psychology. I graduated with my MA in Somatic Psychotherapy from John F. Kennedy University in 2016.
During my program I practiced several somatic modalities such as Hakomi, Sensory Motor, and Somatic Experiencing. I was also able to learn how to use modalities such as guided imagery, breath work, mindfulness, meditation, and healing touch to access the body’s unique wisdom and self-healing capabilities.
As a trained body worker since 2002 I have a good grasp of how the body can somaticize psychological trauma, wounding, and emotional imbalance.
As part of this I am particularly interested in continuing to work with those dealing with chronic illnesses, such as migraines, M.S, and depression.
I have journeyed with people living with a cancer diagnosis. I have worked as a complimentary care volunteer with Hospice by the Bay, offering healing massage to people nearing the end of life. I have also worked with Charlotte Maxwell Complimentary Care Clinic for five years by providing massage and Reiki to women living with various stages of cancer.
Engaging in therapy with individuals living with a chronic or life-threatening illness is a collaborative process. My compassion and sensitivity lend themselves well to gently encouraging individuals to take charge of their own healing and to journey towards wholeness. I provide a non-judgmental safe space for individuals where they can feel emotionally held and able to express their fear, pain, and despair. Often people can feel judged, lableled, and shamed simply for having an illness. Part of my role is to help the individual feel empowered and to learn self-compassion, knowing they are more than their diagnosis.
I work somatically, which means I invite the body into the therapy room, often asking questions like, “Where do you feel that in your body?” Or, “If your body could speak to you what might it say?” Or, “If you take a deep breath and go inside what do you sense?” My work is trauma-informed, which means I have a good foundational understanding of trauma and how it can impact the mind, body, and spirit.
I have training in several modalities that are based in energy psychology. These modalities are rooted in other types of traditions (such as shamanism) and approaches to mental health and well-being. Where appropriate, I can weave these into the therapeutic process.
I am a trained Theta Healer and Dynamic Energy Healer.
What To Expect
What might a typical session be like?
A therapy session is usually 50 minutes in length. It takes place in a setting that is much like a living room. We could sit opposite one another, maybe on the floor sometimes, if that is what make you feel more comfortable.
People attending therapy are known as clients. Some people may have heard the term patient, but that word has its origins in the medical community which sees its patients as ill, and therefore instead I favor the term ‘client’.
Usually I begin by asking what brought you to therapy, what you’d like to work on, what your goals are, if you have any fears and/or questions about the process, and remaining open to anything else you feel you can share.
If we both feel like we can work together and it is a good fit then we will enter into a therapeutic contract. Some paperwork will be involved such as a confidentiality statement, a fee agreement, a session cancellation policy, and an outline of both yours and my responsiblities.
As the sessions progress it may involve expressing your feelings, thoughts, ideas, fears, hopes dreams, disappointments, and expectations while I actively listen and empathise within a non-judgmental environment that I hope feels supportive and safe.
If you so decide, I might offer interventions, or homework, or techniques and tools that you could choose to use in between therapy sessions in your everyday life
Sometimes clients feel a need to express something that is difficult to put into words. Therefore they choose to express it in a non-verbal manner. I hold space for, and welcome, expression through artwork, writing, movement, role play, and miniature sandbox play therapy. Sometimes individuals might ask for specific activities such as a grounding meditation, a guided imagery, breathwork, and other modalities.
The most important thing to remember is that I am there to listen, and listening in and of itself can be a powerful offering that can assist someone in understanding themselves and their inner world more clearly.
Most importantly, all of the above methods and practices are merely options on a menu for the client to choose, or not choose. The client is always in the driver’s seat of the therapy session and the goal is to proceed safely. I am there as a facilitator, a guide, and a collaborative partner as you embark upon your own uniquely-tailored therapy journey.
Some useful websites and contact information follow. Please note these are merely suggestions, not recommendations or endorsements of the services.
Sliding scale lower fee counseling center:
Links for self identified Highly Sensitive People and Empaths
Drug and Alcohol
HIV / AIDS
Cancer Care Resources
I practice at two locations in San Francisco:
Marina Counseling Center
ActivSpace - Treat Avenue Entrance
To book an appointment: