My career began at Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. There I obtained Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and few credits away from minoring in Philosophy (maybe someday). During this time, I assisted with research on child behavior management and the development of spatial cognition. I also engaged in experiential study of Psychodrama Therapy. At this time, I was also working at a Community Mental Health Center under a Psychosocial Recovery Model designed to support adults experiencing severe and persistent mental illness. The years I spent in the Psychosocial Recovery Model helped to solidify my trust in and value of social connection as a cornerstone of wellness.
During my Master's training at Loyola University - Chicago, I provided hospital-based psychiatric social work in Chicago's west-side and outpatient therapy in the suburbs. I realized that, as a white cis woman from a small town, there were storylines hidden in plain view that I needed to see and hear. With a focus on awareness, thus began my personal and professional journey to change the role I play in the story of oppression and privilege.
After Graduate school, I returned to rural Illinois to support families in crisis. Work included in-home counseling, case management, youth-detention-based mental health screenings, and office-based therapy to adults, youth, children, and families. Here I hit my stride and studied evidenced-based practices such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Narrative Therapy.
I arrived in Portland in 2009 as a result of the mental health budget crisis occurring in Illinois. I again provided in-home counseling and care coordination; this time for adults of Washington County coping with mental illness. In this role, my “in-home” counseling often occurred on the street as many people were without homes. This led me to focus on the experience of being without a home in Portland. I obtained my Alcohol and Drug Counselor Certification and begin offering Dual Recovery Counseling to adults living in a transitional housing facility while they worked towards permanent housing. If there is one thing this job taught me (and trust me, there is more than one) it is the value of humor. So uniquely human. It created safety where there was none, hope where it seemed hopeless, and connection where isolation felt eternal.
In 2011 my career expanded to supporting clinicians; specifically those working in the most demanding and vitally needed settings. I provided supervision and management of intensive community clinic programs for several years until words such as “burn-out,” “vicarious trauma,” and “compassion fatigue” became real parts of my professional story. In 2013, I took a break from my career to allow space for new professional experiences. I lived in London, UK working in Human Resources at a university. I gained a new perspective on my professional story and returned to Portland in 2015 to manage a Community Mental Health Clinic and later manage corrections mental health. At this point, I was ready to switch from management and get back to direct support.
In 2016, Imagine Life Counseling and Consultation was founded. In 2018, Imagine Life Counseling and Consultation added tele-therapy services (i.e. "sykpe-therapy") as a flexible option to help make therapy accessible to Oregonians who are under-served, over-booked, or or otherwise unable to make it into a face-to-face therapy session. At this time, I returned to London, UK. While there I continued to provide tele-therapy to Oregonians and tele-teaching English to children in China. In 2019 Imagine Life returned to Portland and continues to provide both face-to-face and video therapy options.
I am pleased at where my career has taken me and I am grateful for those who have let me be a witness to their life story.