"...we can still be crazy after all these years. We can still be angry after all these years. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. The point is...not to try to throw ourselves away and become better. It's about befriending who we are already."
Pema Chodran, meditation teacher
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor with a keen interest in what healing can happen in this very moment. Mindful Awareness, "knowing what you are experiencing as you experience it," as Guy Armstrong would say, is an integral part of my therapeutic outlook. I combine this outlook with more traditional therapies including Cognitive Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Family Systems Approach, Experiential based approaches. A deep commitment to Mindful awareness, Self Compassion practices and Rosenberg's Non Violent Communication also informs my practice.
For many years I have practiced mindfulness and meditation. Recently I took a two year break from work to study with Tara Brach and numerous other teachers in the area of Mindful Awareness. Additionally, I had the opportunity to participate in Jonathan Foust’s program, A Year of Living Mindfully, as well as, to attend retreats at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, including a three month silent retreat.
As an adjunct to psychotherapy skills, I have trained to become a teacher of MIndful Self Compassion, a research based program created by Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer.
In turning toward whatever arises....paying attention to our perceptions, not our interpretations of them, makes every moment fresh and alive.
My professional approach:
My approach is collaborative. Each person brings skills, experience and strengths to a session. Together we set goals based on client stated needs using individual or couple attributes as the foundation for growth. In an atmosphere of positive regard and acceptance, old patterns are unwound and new patterns incorporated based on live time experiences, homework, reading, and exploring new strategies.
I want to help clients find and remember their sense of empowerment that goes beyond the limits of ordinary therapy to a deeper awareness of the unshakable qualities that lie within. I encourage clients to regularly connect in the present moment and to the felt sense of their bodies, to cultivate the skills of awareness that would naturally lead to the unwinding of habitual patterns of thoughts and reactions, and to tap into their own wellspring of love, knowledge, tenderness and confidence.
Another key component of the work I do with individuals and couples is in the area of self compassion. As we cultivate kindness to ourselves, that kindness becomes more prominent and sustainable in our close relationships. We learn to take responsibility for soothing ourselves, for asking for what we need, and for setting clear boundaries. We learn that we are not alone, as our experiences and feelings are universal. We learn to hold what comes our way with kindness and without shame, even our worst foibles and mistakes.
Educational and Work Experience
I have an undergraduate degree and a master's degree in Education from UNC-Chapel Hill with a certificate in School Counseling. After teaching for several years, I pursued a masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at East Carolina University where I focused on working with couples and families in distress and who experienced trauma due to loss. Upon graduation I worked in an in-home family preservation setting. This experience, along with working in the public school system teaching and as a school counselor for fourteen years broadened my insight into human nature. During the work in the schools, I saw students individually, led weekly student groups, met with parents, led family counseling sessions and collaborated with school staff on a regular basis.
My experience extended to working with adults, individually and in couple therapy at Pisgah Institute, a private mental health agency in Asheville, NC. During this time I trained and incorporated Neurofeedback into many of the client sessions.
Currently, I have a private psychotherapy practice working with individuals and couples in Asheville, North Carolina and teach an 8 week course in Mindful Self Compassion.
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I thrive on adventures, as well as, the inner stillness summoned by immersion in nature. In the last few years with a whim and a leap of faith, I journeyed across the country with my two dogs in a clunker camper to explore the West. What a trek! This period included backpacking an Oregon section of the PCT, camping and hiking six weeks in Yosemite and a couple of service projects along the way. Every day I awakened feeling alive and ready to explore.
After seven months I realized that what I really wanted was to deepen the quality of mindful practices in order to increase the range of expertise in working with future clients, as well as, to broaden and deepen my own awareness. I wanted to feel the same kind of aliveness and excitement of living in my daily life as I had living on the road--an inner alignment that bridged all aspects of myself. I wanted to help facilitate in others their own integrated alignment, a sense of wholeness, and a sense of joie de vivre.
(Photos by Deborah Burns)