These are challenging times. Whether you’re trying to cope with ongoing life stresses, feeling stuck, had a recent loss, making a life transition or wanting to improve your relationships, support is essential. Many of us have also been hurt in relationships, which can make asking for help especially hard. Past experiences may also have left us with a sense that it’s feelings that are the problem, along with self-blame for not having life under control and problems fixed.
I believe that we all have the potential for healing and living authentic, fulfilling, joyful lives. There are therapeutic tools that can help you access internal strengths that you may not realize you have. I use these tools to help support and guide you as you learn to cope with life challenges and move toward living the life you imagine for yourself. On my Specializations pages you can learn more about some specific areas I have experience working with, including life transitions, trauma and intergenerational trauma, grief and loss, stress, anxiety, and relationship issues.
Reaching out for help is hard. It’s also a sign of self-care. I offer a free consultation to answer your questions and help you determine if I can meet your needs. I look forward to hearing from you!
(pronounced Shivaun, she/her/hers)
Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Therapist in Austin, Texas
I am a life-long learner who strives to practice the skills I work with clients on, including non-judgmental self-compassion, curiosity, kindness and authenticity. My approach is eclectic and holistic, but draws most from current neuroscience, attachment theory, and mindfulness-based and experiential therapies such as IFS (internal family systems) and coherence therapy. I am trained in EMDR and often find this a useful technique for processing trauma and integrating painful experiences. I also value exploring culture: the ways of knowing we have learned from our individual and shared experiences of our social environment that can be sources of both challenge and strength. I love working collaboratively with clients to help them discover their patterns, needs, strengths and most authentic selves. My role is to be a guide, helping clients find compassion and connection as they work toward their goals.
My first teachers about mental health, resilience and recovery were in my family, especially two wise and loving grandmothers. Living abroad as a child and adult gave me a deep interest in how culture affects our experiences. A first career as a legal aid and elder law attorney led me to a love of counseling and an awareness of the ways mental health and social justice issues intersect. As an attorney I worked with clients leaving abusive relationships, coping with health challenges, and recovering from addiction, and became fascinated by their stories of trauma and resilience. My social work internships included work counseling seniors and co-facilitating an intensive group trauma treatment program. As a licensed social worker since 2018, I have worked in community mental health and later as a therapist for a primary care medical practice, providing affordable counseling to adult clients. I also volunteer as a therapist at Capital Area Counseling. In my free time I love spending time outside in nature, traveling, reading, yoga, photography and parenting my daughter.
M.S.S.W. University of Texas-Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work
Texas Clinical Social Work License #66621
It can help with
Grief and Loss
Many of us live in an environment so focused on fixing problems that it provides little space for grief. Grief is the process of mourning losses that can’t be changed or easily fixed. Feelings of grief and loss may be connected to a traumatic event, or may result from life events such a aging, ending relationships, the deaths of loved ones and other life transitions. Having permission and ways to mourn can be essential to the process of change and finding a renewed sense of hope.
Trauma can be any event that overwhelms our ability to cope. Trauma symptoms can include anxiety, depression, negative beliefs about oneself, a sense of fear, distrust, foreboding and powerlessness, flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive sensory reminders of the trauma, and other unpleasant physical sensations such as feelings of being shaky, on edge, or spacing out (dissociation). It’s important to know that trauma symptoms originate in normal, self-protective physical responses that are the body’s way of keeping you safe in the face of danger. Therapy can help with restoring a sense of safety in the present and integrating memories so life is no longer full of unpredictable triggers, creating a sense of possibility and connection.
Stress and Anxiety
It's easy to feel overwhelmed--by busy lives, relationships, parenting, jobs, past and future worries. Our nervous systems cope by producing stress hormones that may help us in the short-term but lead to chronic feelings of exhaustion or burnout long-term. These physical responses often become attached to negative beliefs about ourselves. In therapy we can work on understanding this process and learning how to teach our body and mind to react in healthier ways.
If you grew up in a family with a history of addiction, abuse or neglect, immigration, racial or ethnic discrimination, chronic illness, or other difficult or traumatic events, you may or may not have experienced these events first-hand. Regardless, past trauma, and the adaptations necessary to survive, may have had a deep impact on your family dynamics. Many people from such families have a deep sense of wanting to create healthier dynamics, to break the cycle, but are not sure how. Therapy can help with understanding and changing these patterns.
From infancy on we are in relationship to others, connections that can provide an essential source of support throughout our lives. Even when we have been deeply hurt by others, positive relation-ships are often a source of healing. As a therapist for individuals, I can help you explore relationship patterns, identify, change and grieve unhealthy relationships, and support you in creating relationships that are nurturing for you and those closest to you.
EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is a technique for processing trauma and anxiety that helps rewire triggers, negative emotions, sensations and beliefs. By working with a therapist to integrate traumatic experiences into the nervous system using this technique, many distressing symptoms can be relieved as memories change from traumatic to simply past events. This process, in turn, lets people find peace of mind and a sense of empowerment that comes from relying on their own healing resources.