Philosophy of Practice
Many years of practice and observation have revealed an apparent theme – no one completely escapes pain, or at least, some difficulty with surmounting life’s problems. Also presented for my review has been the question, “What is normal?” Do we strive for some vague notion of ideal? Or do we reach for an ill-defined standard of healthy function? Out of this exercise comes the realization that one approach does not work for all.
It needs to be clearly understood that each individual has unique challenges and needs; the micro-world that surrounds each of us is also unique to each of us. It also holds true that each individual has their own way of seeking to overcome difficulty.
With these things in mind, and as a therapist, I find it vital to leave any treatment agendas or preconceived notions outside the door and the therapeutic relationship. The therapist’s position, if you so choose, is to help the patient find out where they are, meet you there, and help you with what lies ahead.
My first concern in beginning the therapeutic journey is to ease any immediate pain that may be present. From there, the team of therapist and client can proceed, on the basis of mutual trust, to form realistic and workable goals. Part of this may include building upon strength and skills that already exist or that have worked with prior experiences. If change, new skills, or a different perspective is needed it can be done within the safety of this relationship.
A Word or Two about Grief
Those of us who have experienced the death of a loved one can speak to the difficulty of the journey through grief. However, grief can also occur with other losses. In fact, a closer look might expose threads of grief running through virtually everyone’s life experiences.
Since society has provided very limited, formal support for the individual caught in the clutches of grief, the client-therapist relationship can offer a safe space in which to begin or continue the work of grief. This can also hold true for losses that may have occurred years in the past. Each loss follows its own unique course. The therapist’s role is to help support the pace, style and pathway best suited to the individual. In cases where grief remains unevolved, the therapist may act as a companion or assistant toward the completion of the tasks of grieving.
Education And Licensure
- Master’s of Social Work, University of Utah, June 1987
- Bachelor of Science, Psychology, University of Utah, June 1979
- Bachelor of Science, Mass Communication, University of Utah, Aug. 1979.
- Gerontology Certificate, Weber State College, 1982.
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker, State of Utah, January 1994.
I first entered the realm of others’ difficulties and challenges several months after receiving my BS in psychology. I worked as a case manager for Salt Lake County Aging Services. This entailed evaluating (as a team with a Registered Nurse) the mental and physical health of senior citizens. This also involved an assessment of social support. Appropriate services and resources were coordinated with the prime goal of preserving as much independence as possible. This 5 1/2-year experience exposed me to a full range of aging issues, including related family structure and dynamics.
About mid-way through graduate school (MSW – University of Utah) I accepted a job at a long-term care center. This provided further clinical experience in the same vein at the more dependent end of the spectrum. Issues common to this population were anxiety, depression, grief and loss and family function and adjustment.
While working in long-term care, I held a part-time job with Family Support Center in Midvale. This entailed serving and counseling couples, individuals, taking on-call for the crisis nursery and holding parenting classes.
I left long-term care after a two-year experience and started a 23-year career with Intermountain Healthcare. Over this span I worked in three different Intermountain hospitals and spent a 9 to 10 year period with home health and hospice. Hospital experience included oncology, neurology, orthopedics and crisis (psychiatric and level 1 trauma). From 1993 through 2009 I led or co-led Bereavement and other support groups. The most common diagnoses I worked with were depression, anxiety, other mood disorders, grief and loss, substance abuse, dementia and aging, and personality disorders.
After retirement (end of 2010), I worked part-time with two different home health and hospice agencies for about a five-year span.
Collaboration with Medical staff has been an integral part of my practice throughout my career.
Areas of Specialty
- Caregiver Issues
- Dissociative Disorders/DID
- Grief and Loss
- Substance Abuse
- Couples Therapy (including non-traditional)
- Parenting Education
- Issues of Aging
- Organic Disorders
- Personality Disorders
- Sexual Disorders
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Insight Oriented Therapy
- Problem Solving
- Solution Focused Therapy