My biggest task in supporting children and their families is often that of helping them develop a sense of confidence in knowing what to do when problems happen. When parents call me, something has happened, something has changed and nothing is really solving the problem. Day to day tasks have become overwhelming, and parents begin to worry about what will happen next. Parents may know that it’s time to do something, but sometimes they disagree about what to do. They want their child to have the skills to manage life better, and they don’t want problems to impact their child’s future.
Whether a child has big out of control emotions like anger or fear, has experienced a trauma or loss, or struggles with feeling not good enough, we can solve the issue working together. When parents feel overwhelmed by the inflexibility, the outbursts, or the clingy behavior they find in their child, or when the disagreements about how to handle things start impacting their marriage, I can help. Developing a sense of competence in knowing what’s wrong and confidence in knowing what to do and why can reduce the extremes to restore the feelings of peace, joy, and trust that are missing.
Who I Serve
I work exclusively with children 0-8 and their families. Effective therapy looks much different in these age groups, and this type of work is what I do best. I have extensive specialized training in multiple types of play therapy, family therapy, and trauma. I actively research, participate in continuing education, and train in evidence-based therapies to deliver the most effective developmentally appropriate therapy options for the problems faced by young children and their families. I also work with parents who are expecting a child (including teens) and multigenerational families or grandparents in parenting roles. I work well with blended families and those combining different cultures. I understand the complexity of giftedness, learning disabilities, and twice-exceptional (2e) children and families.
- Shyness and difficulty separating from parents
- Social skills, assertiveness, and healthy boundaries
- Behavioral problems and anger issues
- Grief and loss
- Anxiety and trauma
- School avoidance
- Gifted, Twice Exceptional, and those with learning disabilities
- Co-parenting and other parenting challenges
- High conflict families
- Pregnant or parenting teenagers and Multigenerational households
- Self-injury, suicidal behavior, and abusive relationships
- Bullying and Sibling aggression
- Body image and belonging
- Sexual integrity and sexual acting out
- Adopted, multiracial or multicultural children and families
- Spiritual struggles, as well as spiritual abuse
I am privileged to help parents and families work together with their children and teens to create and maintain the change they seek. Using strengths-based, narrative, and solution-focused approaches, many of my clients notice changes beginning in the first few sessions.
With over 200 hours of clinical training in Play Therapy and expressive therapies, I work effectively with children ages 0-8 in their first language of play. Through play, a child can work out the things they could never simply sit and talk through like an adult.
When appropriate, many of my adult, teen, and family clients also find Art and Sandtray work helpful. By using expressive therapy techniques such as play, Sandtray, art, music, and games, as well as addressing spiritual needs when desired, I engage more parts of the brain and more parts of the person for more effective results.
I have a long history of volunteer and paid experience in social service, non-profit, and religious organizations serving parents, children, and teens, including providing parenting training for pregnant teens and at-risk families, working with children and teens in foster care as well as adopted children, supporting new mothers who were transitioning to stay at home parents and later returning to the workforce, creating and leading youth leadership training and programming, and teaching classes for young children and teens.
I was honored to be recognized as an expert in exemplary youth programming at the American Red Cross. Although I continue to enjoy speaking and teaching and often participate in leading workshops, speaking in the community, and volunteering to benefit children and families. My greatest passion is seeing children and parents overcome the challenges they face to become their best selves. I love working myself out of a job as families rediscover their joy, experience more peace, and gain the tools to manage the surprises life brings.
- Graduate of Freed-Hardeman University with degrees in Bible, Psychology, and World Cultures, B.A.
- Graduate of Wheaton College with M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy with additional training in Play Therapy, Bereavement, and Sex and Sexuality.
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (International Association of Trauma Professionals)
- Theraplay® Informed Practice (completed Level 1 Theraplay® training)
- Certificate in Family Mediation (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee)
- Trained in Special Education Mediation (Wisconsin Special Education Mediation System)
- Working Together: Effective Workplace Relations Facilitator (American Red Cross)
- ILAPT: Illinois Association for Play Therapy
- IAMFT: Illinois Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (Served on the Board of Directors)
- IATP: International Association for Trauma Professionals
- AAMFT: American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
- APT: Association for Play Therapy
- WSEMS: Wisconsin Special Education Mediation System