alyssa

Approaching Life with a Beginner's Mind

Photo by  Max Andrey  on  Unsplash

Photo by Max Andrey on Unsplash

Do you ever find yourself making assumptions about the way your next history exam will go, how a conversation with a parent will transpire, or how you will perform in your next soccer tournament? Often times we cultivate expectations of ourselves, others, or situations in general based on past experiences. While this is a natural and adaptive aspect of human nature, it can also inhibit us from being open to the potential of experiencing something new and different. Furthermore, assumptions based on our experiences sometimes take us away from the present moment and transport us backward into the past or forward into the future. Again, while not entirely unhelpful to reflect on past experiences or consider our futures, living in the past or the future can bring up unhelpful emotions. It can also inhibit our ability to experience the here and now and furthermore to be effective in the here and now. Today I offer you the concept of “Beginner’s Mind” as a means of cultivating the opportunity for new experiences and practicing mindfulness of the present moment.

What is a beginner’s mind? It is what it sounds like! Remember the first time you made a new friend, got an A on your exam, went on a rollercoaster? During any of these “firsts” you approach the experience with an unknowing and open mind because you have not yet had that experience. Beginner’s mind is a way of approaching an experience that, while it be familiar in many aspects, has the potential for a new and different outcome. Perhaps you have had several conversations with a parent on earning privileges back that have not gone in your favor. These experiences build on each other and cultivate an assumption that this type of conversation will always transpire in the same fashion and have the same end result. This assumptive mindset, while seemingly accurate, inhibits us from being creative and experimenting with a different approach and outcome. It can feel hopeless, defeating, and other unhelpful emotions when we get into our assumptive mindsets. If we are to shift our perspective to utilizing a “Beginner’s Mind”, we might consider approaching this conversation in a different manner with an open mind about the result looking different. In doing so, we allow for the possibility of change and new experiences. Cultivating the opportunity for a new experience may foster emotions such as hope and optimism.

Now what we know what Beginner’s Mind is, how do we achieve beginner’s mind? First, we must acknowledge that there is a part of our past experience that informs our current experience. For example, that last conversation with my mom did not go well. We might draw attention to the areas in which we felt this conversation was ineffective and tweak those areas to open the opportunity for a new outcome. We must then let go of that past experience with our tweaks in mind. Rehashing the past in unhelpful to our current situation. Similarly, we might envision what could happen in the future; however, we must acknowledge that we are not fortune tellers and therefor we cannot predict the exact outcome. In this scenario, make peace with the fact that we cannot with certainty predict the result of our conversation. Once we have made peace with our past experiences and our assumptions about the future we allow ourselves to come back to the present moment and furthermore be effective in this current experience.

Beginner’s mind can be challenging, especially if you notice your mind often wanders to a different time and place. I offer you the following tips in practicing Beginner’s Mind and cultivating more experiences in the here and now:

  • Practice self-kindness, do not judge yourself on your ability to stay in the present. Rather, gently remind yourself to come back to the here and now when you notice you have wandered

  • Make peace with what you cannot change about the past and what you do not know for certain in the future

  • Practice Self-Care and grounding strategies to help you move through difficult emotions

  • Remember that Beginner’s Mind is challenging and requires practice! Resist the temptation to give up on your efforts!

It Takes a Village: Understanding How Systems Shape Us

Photo by  Duy Pham  on  Unsplash

Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

We are all part of a system, several systems in fact. Systems range from our partner, family unit, school/work/organization, community, culture, and everything in between. Systems often develop patterns of functioning that support the system in accomplishing tasks, moving forward, and maintaining balance. The evolution of patterns can be intentional, they might present an imbalance in who the system serves, or perhaps they came about over time through events and experiences that shape patterns without members attunement to the helpful or unhelpful results. I have felt inspired by my work and personal experience to reflect on the systems in which individuals exist, how systems function, and if that function is serving individuals and the systems as a whole.

To further understand the operation of systems, I offer the example of coming to therapy (coincidence?) … Perhaps you chose to begin therapy or maybe that was a choice made for you by someone in your life who cares about you. Whatever the circumstance, you are the client in the room. Maybe you or a loved one identified that you can benefit from having an unbiased, safe space. This sometimes implies that you bear the sole responsibility of making a change or committing to yourself. While this can absolutely play a role in what therapy looks like, it would be a disservice to ignore how the systems you exist within also impact your experience and furthermore how the other members contribute to your identity & well-being and that of the system at large.

Let’s say I come to therapy with the goal of enhancing my ability to be more assertive with my feelings in relationships. It might be helpful to look at what communication has been like in my family, for example. Perhaps I found it challenging to be assertive with family because I was expected to “keep the peace,” insert humor in place of vulnerability, or avoid rocking the boat at times it was on the edge of capsizing. This style offered my family a sense of protection, that everything will be alright, and that I am capable of “going with the flow” to avoid exacerbating conflict. While my willingness to mute or soften my emotional expression appeared to function well in our family system to keep us moving forward and establish rhythm, it also presented a later consequence of fear/hesitancy/confusion around how to be assertive in other relationships and areas of my life.

To avoid placing “blame” on any single family member, including myself, I might remember that this pattern of communicating was protective, and it supported my family moving forward and maintaining peace. Rather than viewing our family system as flawed, I might say this pattern functioned for a period of time for a particular purpose; however, that function no longer serves me or the system as a whole. It truly does take consideration of the systems we participate in to understand how patterns develop and how we might want to change a pattern that is no longer serving us. The shift in system function is not any single individual’s responsibility, but a product of all members role in that system; however, when one person chooses to create changes in how they move within the system, there's a ripple effect that can occur, offering an opportunity for growth for the whole system. In re-framing your experience, identity, and worldview to include how your systems have shaped you, you may notice you experience more self-compassion and compassion for the systems that you are a part of, which in turn connects us more deeply to our humanity and the humanity of others.

I offer some tips in considering your village, how it functions, and how it serves you:

  • Reflect on your systems - identify who and what your systems are, what your function is within the system, and the function of the system as a whole

  • Take inventory on what is serving you and what does not seem to work (anymore)

  • Communicate with members of your system on what’s working and what’s not

  • Practice approaching change to the system with curiosity, willingness, flexibility, patience, and compassion for yourself and others

  • Resist the urge to fall back into old patterns that you know are not serving you, practice a beginner’s mind with each situation you are faced with

Remember that it takes a village for your experience to shift, and you are neither the purpose for unhelpful changes in the system nor do you bear the sole responsibility of enacting change. Use your supports and practice self kindness 😊


Glow, Grow, Glow: Befriending Your Inner Critic

Photo by  Autumn Goodman  on  Unsplash

We are our own toughest critics” - This phrase is so widely used and understood, because we tend to be more judgmental of our own performance than others are of us. Whether or not this fact is true or the self-critique is accurate, it can feel true and accurate at times. The implications of self-criticism are unique to each individual... Perhaps self-criticism is a form of motivation or a preventative measure from becoming “lazy.” Perhaps self-criticism has become so much a part of our inner dialogue that it is automatically accepted as fact and prevents us from putting ourselves in seemingly anxiety-provoking situations. Maybe self-criticism falls somewhere in between (or outside) those areas. Whatever role your self-critic plays in your life, I invite you to draw attention to this part of your story and identify how it serves you.

Criticism is defined as the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes. The word criticism inherently has a negative connotation, noting that “disapproval, faults, and mistakes” often define this word. Rather than criticizing ourselves, I encourage you to experiment with using the term “feedback.” Feedback, rather, is defined as information about reactions to a product, a person's performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement. Feedback is inherently more neutral/positive and implies that there is opportunity for growth. By simply changing the word we choose to apply when reflecting on our own performances, we may be mentally and emotionally opening ourselves to the opportunity for growth and change.

When offering feedback to ourselves or others, I often encourage the “glow, grow, glow” method that I learned in my yoga teacher training. A glow is something we feel proud of and are able to acknowledge that we did well. A grow is an area we are able to identify that can benefit from improvement. The “glow, grow, glow” sandwich encourages us to begin our feedback with a positive self-affirmation and end with a positive self-affirmation. This supports a reworking of our inner critic to appreciate our strengths rather than focusing on our perceived shortcomings.

For example, I may judge myself on my performance in a social setting as awkward, shy, or unapproachable on the basis of my perceived lack of connection with others in that setting. True or not, my inner critic may be screaming self-judgments in my head. If I am to apply feedback through a “glow, grow, glow” sandwich, I might tell myself - “I am a good listener” (glow), “I can practice engaging more in the conversation, particularly on topics I can relate to” (grow), “I care about my relationship with others” (glow). The example above cultivates drawing attention to our strengths while offering areas for change.

Here are some helpful tips when giving yourself feedback using a “glow, grow, glow” sandwich:

  • Start small, practice often, and apply feedback to multiple diverse areas in your life

  • Practice mindfulness of disqualifying the positive when acknowledging a “glow” (it’s only a true glow when you maintain the idea that this is something you feel proud of)

  • Practice mindfulness of the emotional weight you place into your “grow” (your grow might feel more significant than your glows and that is OK - manage the amount of energy you focus on your grow and take your attempts for change one step at a time)

  • Be kind to yourself and practice self-care. Your inner critic might pop back up from time to time, perhaps you can give your inner critic a feedback glow, grow, glow sandwich

It Is What It Is: Acceptance as Empowerment, NOT Resignation

Photo by  Philipp Sewing  on  Unsplash

Often times we are confronted with situations in our lives that we are forced to accept for one reason or another. For example, we do not have agency over who we are related to, the fact that we have to attend school, the age we are, or the way others behave and react… The list goes on and on. The idea of accepting these somewhat unpleasant realities is extremely challenging: we might even find ourselves resisting situations that we cannot change because they feel so intolerable. In reality, resisting the inevitable causes us more emotional pain and decreases our ability to be effective in the areas of our lives that we can implement change. So how do we accept these unpleasant, intolerable, and sometimes distressing circumstances?

Acceptance is a process rather than a single event. It is first important to acknowledge what it is that we find challenging to accept and furthermore identify our emotions toward our reality. Validate yourself for feeling the way you do about this situation. For example, “it makes sense that I feel disappointed that my family member is not supportive of my decision to switch schools, because I would like my family to feel proud of me.” Validation is a crucial part of accepting reality, as it allows us to feel and express our true emotions.

You might next look at this situation and identify what is “set-in-stone” and CANNOT be changed. From the example above, we cannot change how our family will react to our choices, nor can we change their opinions. Then, take a look at what is malleable and CAN be changed (even if in a very small way). Perhaps that means we can reframe our expectations, find another source of validation (from ourselves or other supports), and practice assertive communication strategies with family members. Rather than focusing our energy on what cannot be changed, challenge yourself to play around with the more flexible areas of your circumstance. This is the space that we can work with and experience change and growth.

It is important to note that acceptance does NOT mean that we are okay with our circumstance. We may go through the process of practicing acceptance and still experience distress around what cannot be changed. Implement strategies that help you to tolerate what emotions come up for you around this (i.e. self care, grounding techniques). Embrace the areas you can make change in to be most effective in your challenging circumstance and practice strategies that allow you to shift perspective, change, and grow.

I challenge you to experiment with the process of acceptance. Notice where you are resisting an unpleasant reality, and identify where you can can be effective in changing your circumstance. Remember, reality acceptance is not easy and takes practice. Be kind to yourself if it doesn’t work the first, second, or third time. Practice self care and come back to your intention with reality acceptance.

Accept what is, and embrace what can be!

Leave New Years Resolutions in the Past. This Year Reset with Intentions!

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Naturally at the start of the New Year we often think about our “New Year’s Resolutions.” Resolutions can vary from setting out to accomplish a specific goal or making a commitment to change in some way, shape, or form. The New Year seems to be an organic time to reflect on our past year and look forward to the next. We might take an inventory on what we accomplished (or didn’t), and assess how we might want to be different moving forward. While setting New Year’s resolutions can be a wonderful way to create personal and professional goals, it may also set precedents that can be unrealistic, sometimes difficult to measure, and hard to manage during the unexpected turbulence that life seems to throw at us. Because of this, I invite you to re-frame the idea of establishing your resolutions into intentions.

I first must credit a yoga instructor in the Austin community whose class I was fortunate enough to attend on December 31st. She spoke of intention setting in the New Year and inspired me to reflect on how setting an intention, rather than a resolution(s), can influence our mental and emotional well-being. An intention is a state of mind that symbolizes a dedication to following through with purpose. The idea of committing our year to purpose rather than tying ourselves to any particular goal, can be a liberating and intentional way to cultivate an open mind about changing goals throughout the year while maintaining the consistency of following through with our ambitions utilizing a mindset of intention.

I am not suggesting abandoning the process of taking inventory on the past year and creating meaningful, inspiring goals for the New Year. Goal setting and living with intention are not mutually exclusive; actually, the two ideas go hand-in-hand. For example, we might create a health goal that is rooted in intention (i.e. being active, practicing body kindness, getting outside, etc.). If we apply our intentional mindset to this goal, we consider the purpose of this goal and how it fits into our life. This allows us to create both structure and flexibility around this goal so that it can be something realistic based on our lifestyle and flexible enough to allow re-evaluation if the structure does not seem to work for us. If you feel lost or defeated about your goals, come back to intention and purpose. Perhaps there is a different avenue for you to pursue your intention without the limitations of your predetermined goals.

As you begin to incorporate intention into your everyday choices, you may notice that you are making decisions and creating goals that align with your values. Perhaps you begin to notice that not only are you following through with the goals you created at the New Year, but you are continuing to create additional goals that support your purpose and your values.

Wishing you a happy and healthy new year filled with intention!

LifeTip: Mind Over Matter

Photo by  Ben Sweet  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ben Sweet on Unsplash

Ever heard of the phrase “mind over matter”? This phrase refers to our mind’s ability to conquer infinite limitations brought on by external factors - our environment, the situations we are in, the challenges we face, our interactions with difficult people, and even mental/emotional barriers we experience. The idea of our mind being able to conquer the challenges we often experience throughout our lives, sounds quite appealing; however, as powerfully resilient as our minds can be, they can also be equally as self-destructive.

Our brains are an extremely unique organ in our body. In therapy, we often talk about the connection between our mind and our body. We draw attention to the way our body reacts to our emotions, thoughts, situations we are in, etc. to provide us more information on our experience and how to respond to such reactions. In considering the idea of “mind over matter” we may target our thoughts as a point of reference to the mind-body connection.

For example, perhaps I notice I’m having the thought, “I’m never going to get all of this work done.” If I sit on this thought I may have a second thought, “I should be able to do this” ...and so on. These thoughts may bring on emotions such as anxiety and distress. I notice that I experience anxiety and stress as tension in my shoulders or feeling a “pit” in my stomach. In this scenario, my distressing thoughts affected the way my body reacts (i.e. muscle tension and pit in my stomach). This is one example of simply how much power our thoughts have over our bodies and our emotional experiences. Maybe you have had a similar experience with unhelpful thoughts. Sounds unpleasant, right? The good news: while our minds can be extremely powerful (in this example in a self-destructive way), they can also be quite powerful in moving us forward when we learn how to manage our thoughts.

Life Tip: It’s helpful to first practice observing your thoughts. What thoughts come up for you? Are they encouraging, discouraging, neutral? Are they facts? Are they based in reality or in your emotional experience? Once we practice observing our thoughts with a nonjudgmental stance, we can begin practicing strategies to manage the thoughts that are unhelpful or do not seem to serve us. We might first notice the thought and ask ourselves, “is this a helpful thought?” We are not necessarily challenging the accuracy of that thought, because in the moment it might feel real. It is likely more realistic to evaluate the helpfulness of a thought rather than its accuracy. Another strategy might be to simply notice the thought you’re having and create distance between yourself and that thought. For example, I notice that I’m having the thought, “I’m not going to get my work done.” This allows me to take a step back, simply notice the thought, and let it pass; rather than becoming that thought or allowing it to impact my emotional experience.

Always remember: Thought challenging strategies take practice! They might not work the first time, the second time, or even the third time - so try not to feel discouraged if you struggle to challenge distressing thoughts. When in doubt, refer back to some simple thought challenging tips:

    • Practice observing your thoughts, without judgement!

    • Ask yourself, “is this a helpful thought for me to have?” If the answer is no, move onto another more helpful and productive thought

    • Create distance between yourself and the distressing thought you observe - call a thought just that, a thought, and do not let it define you or your experience

    • Practice grounding techniques (i.e. deep breathing, 5 senses) when your thoughts get ahead of you and attempt to bring yourself back to a more emotionally neutral headspace


Mind over matter works for those who work on it. Believe in your ability to change your inner dialogue to be more helpful and productive!


LifeTip: The Power of Silence

Photo by  Joshua Earle  on  Unsplash

Often, when we think of silence it sounds like nothing, and it looks like nothing. On a superficial level this is certainly accurate; however, silence can be extremely powerful and meaningful. Silence provides us so much information about ourselves and about others. Our awareness of silence and what comes up during silence can be a helpful tool when used with intention. I have felt motivated by my therapeutic work to share how silence can be used in a beneficial and intentional way, specifically in relationships.

Both verbal and nonverbal communication offer us a means of sharing in addition to a means of understanding what is being shared. Silence falls in the category of nonverbal communication and in the silence there is significance to what is NOT being said. Allowing the space for silence in any interaction offers an opportunity for us to observe body language, facial expressions, physical distance between ourselves and others. Being mindful of how others present during silence can tell us a bit about how they are feeling, how the interaction seems to be going, and their comfort level in the current space/time. Silence also provides us an opportunity to notice what emotions stir up inside of us during silence. Maybe we feel uncomfortable, unsure, unsafe, self conscious, OR we may feel relaxed, relieved, neutral. We might also notice what is our “go to” response to silence in relationships: attempting to fill the space with words, avoidance, safety behaviors (i.e. playing with our phone, fidgeting). Rather than placing judgment on ourselves or others for what appears to come up during silence, I invite you to simply notice what happens both outside and inside of you when silence occurs.

Once we have practiced noticing silence and what comes up for us and others during silence, we are able to use it intentionally for a variety of purposes to enhance our relationships. Ever heard of the “silent treatment”? This is when we use silence to punish someone for doing us wrong. While this may or may not be an effective tool in any particular relationship, this is an example of how individuals may use silence with intention. Rather than using silence as a punishment, we can use silence in more assertive ways to promote understanding, safety, and mutual respect in relationships. See below for some strategies for using silence to enhance relationships:

  • Practice active listening in your relationships

  • Reflect on what you see and check in with others if your hunch on how they are feeling or what their experience is, is correct

  • Practice mindfulness of your emotions and mindfulness of others’ emotions

  • Practice sitting with and tolerating uncomfortable emotions

  • Demonstrate that you can not only sit with someone else’s silence but you can maintain the safety of that silent space without trying to change it

RECAP! Practice noticing the silence you experience in relationships, what comes up for you emotionally, what you observe in others, and reflect on how you can use silence as a means to deepen your connection with another person.


“Silence is the most powerful scream”


LifeTip: How Setting Boundaries Promotes Intimacy

Recently, I’ve felt inspired by both my personal and professional life when it comes to interpersonal boundaries. Setting boundaries in our relationships can be challenging because it requires a bit of finessing, but in the long run it can actually help promote intimacy with others.

Often when we talk about setting boundaries in relationships, we refer to creating metaphorical lines that are not to be crossed or tampered with in order to protect ourselves. This idea may appear to create distance in a relationship, perhaps in one that requires nurturing and closeness, but in most cases, the opposite is true.

Boundaries are not only a way to protect ourselves in relationships, they also create healthy structure, promote predictability and safety, and are a form of self-care. A boundary can be as simple as setting guidelines with your child about phone usage at the dinner table. Other boundaries can be more complex, such as telling a parent or family member that certain topics are off-limits because they personally result in unhelpful consequences and emotional discomfort. In either case, we set boundaries with the people we care about in order to increase the safety, intimacy, and long-term sustainability of each relationship. Setting boundaries can be appropriate in any relationship: your child, parent, sibling, partner, friend, coworker, the list goes on. If it’s a relationship you care about, it can certainly benefit from setting healthy boundaries.

It’s important to note that setting boundaries can be really challenging, especially if this is something new you’re trying. It might feel awkward, it might also create some short-term confusion/anger/resentment, and it might even take a handful of tries before it feels authentic. Be patient with yourself and this relationship. If you care enough about this person and yourself, allow the time and space to work out the kinks.

Here are some helpful tips when setting interpersonal boundaries:

  • Practice saying no/yes when it comes to your needs/desires and reflect on how you manage hearing “no” from others. Practice tolerating any uncomfortable emotions that come up.

  • Reflect on your sense of identity. Practice accepting and respecting yourself.

  • Practice speaking up when you feel you have been abused or disrespected by others.

  • Take time to identify your wants, needs, and feelings. Practice using direct communication to share these wants, needs, and feelings with others.

  • Identify your limits and allow others to define their limits.


Finally, remember that we set boundaries out of love and not punishment!

Practice compassion for yourself and within your relationships 😊


LifeTip: Am I an Introvert or an Extrovert?

Common Misconceptions of Personality Types

Like most categories, our society dichotomizes certain concepts so we are better able to understand and place people/things into general ideas that fit with our concepts. The idea of introverted individuals versus extroverted individuals is one example. Often society defines an introverted person as someone who is quiet, private and prefers to keep to themselves. Contrarily, an extroverted person is described by society as someone who is outgoing, talkative, and has an active social network. While parts of these personality dichotomies may be accurate, they tend to vastly overgeneralize these personality types. In reality, an extroverted and introverted individual may exhibit similar social lives, have the same amount of friends, and engage in similar activities… So what IS the difference?

Am I an Introvert or an Extrovert?

The relevant question to determining if you identify more as an introvert or extrovert is: how do you recharge? Think about how you might feel after a long day of school, work, or any energy-consuming activity. Typically after a long day, one requires the time and space to recharge their depleted energy. An introverted individual will have a propensity to re-energize by spending some quality alone time. This offers an individual the opportunity to decompress and prepare for the next activities/tasks. An extroverted individual seeks to spend quality time around others to recharge their depleted energy and prepare for ongoing activities for the day. This does not necessarily mean that extroverts have more friends and/or enjoy social activities more than introverts - it all comes back to what helps individuals to restore their exhausted energy.

There are some qualities that may be characteristic of introverted and extroverted persons, and they may be more prevalent in some individuals than others. Here are some examples: extroverted individuals may enjoy group conversations while introverted individuals may prefer more one to one interactions, extroverted individuals may speak more while introverted individuals may listen more, and extroverted individuals may express more openness while introverted individuals may be more reserved. These are simply few of many qualities that MAY indicate you are more introverted or extroverted; however, there are always exceptions AND there may be times in our lives or particular situations when we identify more as an introvert or as an extrovert. When in doubt, come back to the question: “how do I recharge?”

How does this apply to mental health?

First, it is less important to label yourself as an “introvert” or “extrovert”, and rather more helpful to identify what helps you to recharge and reenergize. Why would it be helpful to identify how we recharge? Recharging and re-energizing are ways to practice self-care. Self-care becomes increasingly important in moments of stress, physical and emotional depletion, in addition to ways we can proactively take care of our needs. Drawing awareness to the ways in which we recharge can help us to create space for these moments in our lives so that we are better able to tackle whatever life has in store.


Meet Alyssa!

Hi Friends, I’m Alyssa! (and that cute lil’ pup is my baby, Benny) I am so incredibly happy you are here!

I know that the idea of beginning your journey with a new therapist and sharing your story can be exciting, intimidating, uncomfortable, anxiety-provoking and ALL of the other emotions. Let me share with you about myself, and I am hopeful that knowing a bit more about me can help ease some of your scaries.

Originally from Chicago, born and raised, I moved to Austin just over a year ago with my fiance (also a Chicago native) to embark on the adventurous journey of exploring a new city of which we knew little to nothing about. Not unlike beginning a relationship with a new therapist, I felt excited, anxious, uncertain, scared … the list goes on. Despite my many doubts including: leaving my family, friends, a job I loved, and a city I knew with my eyes closed (“what am I doing?!”), it did not take long for me to fall in love with Austin and all of the opportunity this city has to offer! Within the past year I have managed co-raise a doodle pup...well - we’re still working on that, obtain my yoga teaching certificate, complete my social work licensure, and buy a house with my now fiance (all seemingly intimidating, foreign, and impossible at the beginning have become proud challenges I have worked hard to accomplish). I share this with you as it relates to coming to therapy: what started out as a bit scary and unpredictable transformed into one of the greatest blessings I could have hoped for. I am hopeful that YOU have the opportunity to overcome and accomplish life’s many challenges and I would love to support you along the way!

My approach to therapy is warm, empathic, and understanding. You are the expert on your life and I will have the pleasure of accompanying you on your journey while offering support, validation, and guidance throughout.

My passion to work with adolescents and families started long ago in my undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (GO BLUE!) as I became deeply interested in healing and psychology. I continued on to graduate school at Loyola University Chicago to pursue my Masters in Social Work with the enthusiasm to support adolescents and their families to live meaningful and fulfilling lives. I have had wonderful opportunities to work with kiddos and their families both in Chicago and Austin in several settings from inpatient treatment, outpatient programs, and within therapeutic groups. I look forward to bringing my experience to our relationship and learning even more from each unique individual - we are all unicorns with something different to offer the world!

During my free time, I am often spending my days outside enjoying the Austin sun (something I was certainly unable to do in the Midwest), kayaking on Lady Bird Lake, practicing yoga, listening to live music, and spending time with my new Austin family and friends (Benny, too!).

I so appreciate you taking the time to read my story, I look forward to hearing about yours! :)