how my journey lead me to helping others
I went back to graduate school to study counseling because my patients at a Vanderbilt Medical Center research lab needed more emotional support than our team could provide. Their courage inspired me and pulled at my longing to go deeper in my work. I wanted to know more about the connection between physical healing, trauma, memory, and the brain.
I enjoy helping individuals learn to navigate their lives more authentically with increasing ease and contentment.
It never occurred to me to consider what I wanted when I chose my college major. Our country was in a difficult recession and good jobs were scarce so I asked, “Who’s getting hired?” and majored in Finance. I began my career as a commercial lender with a regional bank. I graduated from a management training program and eventually managed a loan portfolio in the Service Industries sector. My clients were restaurant owners, reinsurance companies, independently owned radio stations, and mining companies. I learned that I do not have the heart to close down a third generation family business without a fight in loan review committee and many tears behind my office door. It was the people and our relationship that I valued most. I took this new understanding of my values, combined it with my love of running and changed direction. Simultaneously a health crisis rocked my world in 1988 and urged me onto a contemplative path for my spiritual and soul work. I began practicing yoga, centering prayer, body prayer and mindful meditation recieving guidance through psychotherapy, trainings, workshops, and retreats.
With deep gratitude for all that I’d learned and for the people who had encouraged and mentored me, I left the bank and earned a graduate degree from Vanderbilt University in Exercise Physiology, Nutrition Education, and Wellness Programming. This step opened doors for me to work in cardiac rehabilitation and metabolic research labs at Vanderbilt Medical Center, manage wellness programs at Saturn Corporation, and teach Vanderbilt undergraduate students.
My life took another turn in a metabolic research lab at Vanderbilt Medical Center. I enjoyed teaching nutrition and exercise sessions, but I became frustrated by our team's failure to emotionally support our patients. Several clients recalled suppressed traumatic memories as they lost weight. This was a difficult but exciting breakthrough that exposed one of the possible explanations for their unsuccessful attempts to lose weight in the past! The psychologist who joined our team could not connect emotionally with our patients. It was agony for me to see my patients being left emotionally as they become more vulnerable and open to deeper healing. Our patients were dangerously over weight with high risk medical conditions. Weight loss was essential for their health and longevity. The doctors and researchers I worked with were warm, compassionate people. We all sincerely cared about our patients, but our patients needed more.
I met with professors from the Human Development Counseling Department at Vanderbilt to learn more about trauma work and got hooked by their passion to support and gently pace healing and personal growth. They offered me a graduate assistantship to continue teaching and study in their program. I gratefully jumped at the opportunity. To support myself through graduate school I worked as a professional trainer and consultant helping companies increase productivity and enhance employee health and happiness. My clients included Miller Brewing Company, Pennsylvania Power and Light, Saturn Corporation, Focus Healthcare, Sumitomo Electric Wiring, etc. I earned a second master’s degree and began offering career counseling sessions, workshops and executive coaching at a local nonprofit. I began a small private practice and continued learning more about the brain, trauma, and memory.
In 2003 a former client returned to therapy and told me about her remarkable healing with EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing therapy. EMDR is a bilateral stimulation therapy that allows the brain to naturally rewire to reprocess trauma. I experienced EMDR as a client and then began my clinical training in 2004. I practiced as an EMDR therapist until I attended an advanced training with David Grand, PhD, at an EMDR conference and learned about a more effective bilateral therapy called Brain Spotting. I have been using Brain Spotting Therapy in my practice since 2010 to reprocess trauma, enhance performance, treat anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and rewire blocks or loops that shut down creativity and fuel harmful habits and addictions.
My clients have included: