I specialize in Marriage Counseling, Couples Counseling, Relationship Counseling, and Sex Therapy, including Sex Addictions. I work with individuals, couples and families to help them achieve healthy relationships and interpersonal wellness, and believe healthy and securely attached connections with others are foundational in achieving joy and happiness. I come from a non-pathological, faith and strength-based paradigm, that integrates family structure, relationship dynamics, and specific cognitive, behavioral and relational therapies. I am a pro-commitment or pro-marriage therapist, which means that I value working toward trying to heal and restore your marriage or couple relationship, if possible.
My specific areas of practice are:
Marriage/Couple & Relationship Therapy:
I have dedicated my professional practice to healing and strengthening marriages and relationships. Couples therapy is a highly specialized form of therapy, and is not an extension of individual therapy. I work with individuals and couples to heal, rebuild, reconnect, and achieve more mutually satisfying; emotionally and intimately connected relationships. We look at possible roadblocks such as resentments, anger, lack of trust, or unresolved grief that can keep us unfulfilled and emotionally distant. Difficult, ongoing conflicts can become fraying and depleting. Couples will learn to understand and communicate their needs in healthy ways and set healthy boundaries for themselves, and in their relationships. Perhaps you have experienced the betrayal of an affair or other hurtful actions by your partner. Working with both the “hurt partner” and the “betraying partner”- together and individually- to provide emotional support and stability, teaching couples how to repair the emotional injury and understanding what lead to the affair are key to rebuilding the relationship’s foundation of trust, emotional safety, commitment and long-term stability.
I am trained in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and The Gottman Method; two empirically supported treatment models, to help couples re-organize key emotional responses, reduce conflict, change interactional patterns, and foster secure bonds. As a certified EMDR therapist, I utilize this treatment approach to heal emotional and relationship traumas and attachment injuries. I have worked in an addiction treatment center as well as inpatient psychiatry. Assessing addictions or any unstable mental health concerns is important to understand their influence on the relationship dynamics and how to incorporate these concerns into the overall treatment plan.
Christian Marriage Counseling is offered for those couples seeking to combine a faith-based approach to therapy. I also provide pre-marriage therapy. I am trained in ‘Prepare/Enrich’ which is a research based comprehensive assessment tool that looks at key areas of the relationship for strengths and areas of growth. This assessment tool is used in my work with premarital couples to help set a strong foundation for their future marriage.
Sex and Intimacy Therapy/ Sex Addiction/Sexual Trauma:
I treat individuals and couples experiencing intimacy and sexual issues. I am credentialing as an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist as well as certification as a Sex Addiction Therapist. I see individuals dealing with personal sexual concerns or couples working through sexual issues that are negatively affecting the relationship.
I provide a safe, non-judgmental space in which to talk about your sexual and intimacy concerns. You will gain greater insights, learn to use the tools and skills your already have, while developing new more successful personal and relationship strategies to address your sexual concerns. Homework and other assignments, such as reading materials and exercises to try at home, are usually prescribed by the therapist for the couple to work on between sessions. Sex therapy is “talk therapy” and never involves physical contact.
The discovery of a sex or porn addiction (compulsive sexual behavior) can be very devastating personally and within the relationship. I work 1:1 with the individual struggling to achieve sexual sobriety and sexual purity. I work with couples to address the emotional and sexual betrayal and help rebuild trust, safety and emotional security. The treatment consists of assessment, education, interpersonal psychotherapy, development of skills for sobriety, and emotional support to help manage/heal difficult emotions such as guilt, shame and grief.
I am certified in EMDR Therapy, which is an empirically proven treatment for trauma, abuse and PTSD. Psychological trauma is defined as a neurological injury due to an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds our ability to cope or emotionally integrate that experience. This can involve one event or repeated events with the sense of feeling overwhelmed by the event for months, weeks or even years.
Trauma can be caused by a wide variety of events, but there are common aspects of the event that appear to cause traumatic outcomes. For example, trauma can occur when there is a violation of a person’s familiar ideas of safety, and what they trust or depend upon for survival is broken. Another aspect that could lead to trauma is a violation of human rights; which disillusions the individual in an unforeseen way. Some examples are: affairs, bullying, emotional/verbal abuse, witnessing of a difficult situation, catastrophic natural disasters, war or other violence and workplace harassment/discrimination.
Psychologically traumatic experiences often involve physical trauma such as sexual or physical abuse, domestic violence, accidents, physical injury or other health crisis’.
Research has shown a link to addictions and trauma. I have worked in a chemical dependency treatment center providing EMDR Therapy and can attest to the benefits of EMDR in helping to reprocess past hurts that can lead to negative beliefs of self and self-destructive behaviors.
It is important to note that trauma differs among individuals by their subjective experiences; people will react to similar events differently and some may not become physiologically traumatized. However, if trauma does occur, trauma victims tend to organize their lives around patterns of reliving and warding off traumatic memories, reminders/triggers and emotions/affects. EMDR therapists are trained to look through a trauma lens and identify whether problem are related to current or past trauma and provide healing and hope to those victims.
Discernment Therapy/ Un-Coupling and Divorce Recovery:
Some couples have been experiencing significant distress in their relationship and have lost their connection to the point they are confused and unsure about their long- term commitment to the marriage or partnership. Sometimes there is one partner who is “leaning out” and discerning their decision to remain in the relationship. I have had advanced training in Discernment Therapy, by Dr. William Dougherty of the U of M, who researched and developed this therapy approach.
Discernment therapy is not couples therapy per se. It is a 3 to 5 session process by which the couple takes a closer look at their relationship from a 360- degree approach, to help them get as much clarity and confidence in their decision. I help couples look at how they got to this point, what they have or have not tried, and what the couple’s therapy (the work) would entail if they decide to commit to therapy. Most of the discernment therapy is done individually. If the couple decides that they are ready to separate or divorce, we work together through all the levels of the separation or uncoupling process to address area such as; boundaries, emotional support, co-parenting plans and strategies to help each partner and the children navigate the emotional and physical transition.
Divorce recovery is counseling designed to help individuals, couples and families navigate all the emotional and logistic dynamics that surround a decision to divorce. This may include: how and when to tell children, family and friends of the decision; how to work through co-parenting issues; how to help children emotionally cope, or how to work through conflicts. I provide individual therapy to work through the emotional aspects of the divorce and gain deeper insight into what happened in the marriage that lead to it’s disillusion. Often newly single partners want help in knowing when they are ready to date again, and how to mange that personally and within the family unit.
Some interpersonal issues are best treated through individual psychotherapy- whether that be anxiety, depression, sexual concerns, addictions, anger or relationship struggles. Also, some individuals seek therapy to discuss relationship concerns after a recent break up or because they are dealing with residual issues from past relationships. If your partner refuses to attend therapy, individual therapy can help you feel supported and gain insight about yourself and your relationship. Possibly you have experienced a felt sense of rejection or abandonment in your life’s journey. I will help you explore difficult life experiences to identify connections between those experiences within the context of your current situation.
I believe the most effective healing takes place within the context of a caring, trusting relationship. Therapy can be that safe place to begin your journey of healing.
B.A. in Nursing, St. Catherine University
M.A. Marriage and Family Therapy, MN
School of Professional Psychology
American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy,
Minnesota Association of Marriage and Family Therapy
American Association of Sexual Educators, Counselors and Therapists
EMDR International Association (EMDRIA).
Therapist Gender: Female
Graduate Degree: Master Degree
University: MN School of Professional Psychology; Argosy
Counseling License: Marriage and Family Therapist
State Licensed In: MN
Certifications, Awards, Memberships or Publications: AAMFT
MNA-MN Nursing Association