Prior to graduate school, I studied addiction counseling and worked as a drug and alcohol counselor, as well as with individuals and families living in homeless shelters. Recognizing the depth of the needs of the populations I worked with, I returned to school. I received my post graduate clinical training at Washburn University. In my first placement following graduate school, I worked with inmates who had high recidivist rates, histories of addictions, and most often histories of childhood abuse. Following my experience working with the inmate population, I worked at a local community mental health center.
Because of the persistent exposure I had working with individuals who had histories of significant trauma, I developed a strong desire for deeper understanding of the impact of trauma on the daily functioning of individuals, of the physiological impact of trauma on the body and on the brain. I have subsequently pursued substantial exploration and training in effective treatment modalities for trauma. Congruent and interwoven in understanding the impact of the trauma itself is understanding the impact of early childhood experiences on an adult’s view of self, other, and world, as well as on the individual’s manner of functioning in the world. In addition to studying the impact of trauma and abuse, I also found the need for understanding and insight into the impact of early neglect on an individual’s view of self and world and on their daily functioning. Therefore, much of my work with individuals is to assist in heightening awareness and acceptance of each individual’s own strengths, gifts, and values. In addition, my work with an individual also focuses on strengthen their ability to consistently make life choices that honor their own value system and their ability to pursue their own gifts and talents.
Since a frequently experienced consequence of trauma or neglect is difficulty with relationships, I developed a strong interest in the dynamics of relationships (such as, the relationship to self, the relationship to others, the relationship to the external world), as well as in how to verbalize and communicate effectively without aggression or threat to self or other. This hunger for deeper insight, for healing, for tools or skills to offer, ultimately, led me to the study of Compassionate Communication and the Right Use of Power and the Power Spiral. The insight and skills I have gained through my studies with Cedar Barstow in the Right use of Power and with Robert Gonzales, Marshall Rosenberg, and other trainers in Compassionate Communication have now been interwoven throughout my work with individuals and couples.
My involvement within my community has been varied. I offered a free public presentation on the impact of abuse and neglect in early childhood attachment experiences on an individual’s current day experiences as an adult. I have volunteered since 2004 to be on the Cox Cares Committee to review requests submitted to the employee benefit program for financial assistance to employees in unexpected financial hardships. In 2005, I volunteered to offer a series of groups on power, boundaries, shame, and personal power for women survivors of domestic violence. I have been a member of the Sedgwick County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition since 2004 and served as secretary of the Coalition from 2005 to 2007. In 2008, I was invited to be on the Board of Directors of the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center and continue to serve in that position. From 2005 to present, I have facilitated and co-facilitated multiple free will offering study groups locally and in Newton, KS on Compassionate Communication. I also host a local practice group for Compassionate Communication.
I have four adult children. I enjoy gardening, sewing, poetry writing, and spending time connecting with the natural world and with family and friends.