Specializing in Individual Therapy, Family Therapy & Marital Therapy in South Austin


I am a licensed clinical social worker with over twenty-five years of clinical experience working with a wide variety of populations ranging in age from toddlers to seniors.  I specialize in working with individuals who have experienced trauma and loss in their lives, those living with depression, anxiety, chronic pain and illness and those experiencing life transitions.  I have extensive experience working with couples and families, facilitating a greater understanding of one another, and  providing skills to cope with and overcome challenging situations in a more effective way

I believe that my role is that of a guide in one’s journey of healing and growth. I draw from a variety of therapeutic approaches and I utilize my skills and experience to help clients address difficult life experiences and to create new and healthier ways to manage their lives. Trust and the therapeutic relationship are the foundations for change and the relationship is one of mutuality and empowerment.

On Managing Stress

The fast paced, high tech world that we live in today is producing a population of stressed out, anxious and depressed individuals who are having an increasingly difficult time coping with the “normal” stress of everyday life. It is critical that we recognize the importance of learning to manage our stress.
Stress is an inevitable part of life, and good in small doses. But if you notice yourself frequently in a stressed state, it’s time to learn how to deactivate your stress response and save it for times of urgency.
Being in a state of stress too often or for prolonged periods of time takes a toll on us. When you are in a stress state, your body is preparing for urgent action, which requires your body to shut down activities used for long-term functioning: immune function, sex drive, reproduction, and growth.
Long-term stress also is linked to illnesses such as diabetes, obesity and anxiety. If that doesn’t throw you for a loop, stress has a multitude of short-term symptoms: headaches, nausea, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, dry mouth, shakiness, back pain, lack of appetite, sleep disturbances, panic, worry, trouble focusing, moodiness, sadness, and feeling overwhelmed. Stressed yet? This list goes on.
The good news? You can learn to disable your stress response. Below are a few proven ways to reduce stress responses in your life:

Embrace imperfection. Striving for perfection always leads to stress. Negative, perfectionistic thoughts, such as “I’m not a good enough mom,” aren’t helpful. Less extreme thoughts, such as “my children need a mother who loves them, not one who’s perfect,” reduce your stress response. Practice replacing perfectionistic thinking with more acceptable, less extreme ones.

Identify automatic thoughts. Automatic thoughts are our internal dialogue that occurs rapidly and repeatedly. In the midst of a stressful situation, you may notice yourself thinking: “I’m losing my mind! What’s wrong with me?” Uncover the meaning of these thoughts and you can begin to replace them with more appropriate thoughts.

Become a neutral observer. Stop looking at the stressful situation through your emotion-filled lens. Imagine that your stressful thoughts are someone else’s. You will notice that you can see things more objectively this way.

Practice breathing exercises. Focus your attention on your breath. Fill your lungs slowly and exhale slowly for a count of 10. Start over if you lose count. This exercise is meant to reduce your body’s response to stress.

Accept and tolerate life events. So, you may actually be experiencing a stressful life event, such as a marriage, baby, moving, or a death. Acknowledge, endure, and accept what is happening in your life at the moment. Focus on the present and be mindful of your surroundings. Be deliberate about allowing this exact moment to be what it is, rather than what you wish or hope it to be.

You may find it difficult to take control of your stress response in the beginning. This is normal. Continue to practice these and other tools to manage how you respond to stress. Eventually you will find yourself better able to manage your life situations.

The Dalai Lama

 Inspiration and guidance from the Dalai Lama:

1. Be grateful to be alive

Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.” 

2. Be kind

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

3. Work at being happy

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”

4. Embrace life’s challenges

There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’ No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.”

5. Be optimistic

Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.”

6. Help others

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

7. Be compassionate

I believe compassion to be one of the few things we can practice that will bring immediate and long-term happiness to our lives.”

8. Embrace setbacks

Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”

9. Find strength from within

When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.”

10. Don’t judge others

People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.”

The Symptoms of Inner Peace

My yoga instructor shared this in class a couple of weeks ago. I think it’s something that needs to be passed on and considered.

The Symptoms of Inner Peace

  1. An unmistaken ability to enjoy each  moment.
  2. A loss of interest in judging others
  3. A loss of interest in judging self.
  4. A loss of interest in conflict.
  5. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
  6. A loss of the ability to worry.
  7. Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
  8. Frequent attacks of smiling through the heart.
  9. Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.
  10. Increasing susceptibility to kindness offered, and the uncontrollable urge to reciprocate.
  11. A tendency to think and act deliberately, rather than from fear based on past experiences.
  12. An increasing tendency to allow things to unfold, rather than resisting and manipulating.

Reflecting on these 12 “symptoms” may provide some insight into areas of your life that need extra attention.  We are all searching for a peaceful and joyous heart and mind.  Do those things that help you to cultivate the inner peace that resides within you.

Twelve Things That Lead to Greater Happiness

1.  Express Gratitude – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.  If we aren’t thankful for what we already have, we will have a hard time ever being happy.  Adopt an “attitude of grattitude”.

2.  Cultivate Optimism – People who think optimistically, see the world as a place filled with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.  Challenges can be seen as opportunities for change and/or growth.

3.  Avoid Overthinking and Social Comparison - Comparing yourself to someone else creates negative thoughts.  The only person you should compare yourself to is yourself before now.  Strive to be the best YOU can be.

4.  Practice Acts of Kindness – Selflessly helping someone is a powerful way to feel good about one’s self.  Wish for others that which you wish for yourself.  Treat others as you would like to be treated.

5.  Nurture Social Relationships – The happiest people tend to be those who have deep, meaningful relationships.  It’s not the number of relationships one has, it’s the quality of the relationships.

6.  Develop Strategies for Coping - It helps to have healthy strategies for coping practiced, on call, and in your “tool box” at your disposal. Old, negative, unhealthy coping mechanism need to be replaced with healthy ones in order for change to occur.

7.  Learn to Forgive - Harboring negative feelings of anger and/or hatred makes a sense of well-being very difficult to achieve. Letting go of anger is empowering.  Forgiveness does more for the one giving it than for the one to whom it is given.

8.  Increase Flow Experiences - Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still.  It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become “one” with the task.  Practice meditation and visualization exercises when nothing is distracting you or competing for  your focus.

9.  Savor Life’s Joys - Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy.  Focus more on that which is positive in your life and less on that which is perceived as negative.

10.  Commit to Your Goals - Surprising things happen when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere.  Once committed, take the necessary steps to reach your goals, even if each step is a small one.

11.  Take Care of Your Body - The mind and body are connected and therefore a healthy body is necessary for a healthy mind and emotional well-being.  One of the most important elements for good health is good sleep hygiene. Be sure to get enough, good quality sleep regularly.

12.  Practice SpiritualityWhen we practice spirituality or religion we give up the idea that we are the mightiest and most important thing that exists and recognize that life is bigger than any individual. Perspective makes a significant difference in how we experience the world, our lives and ourselves.

Healing from Divorce in Six Steps

The key to your recovery is to take back control and own your life.  Acceptance is mandatory.  As hard as it sounds, there’s no mving forward as long as you’re mired in regret, anger or fear.  this is not to say that you do’t have to  protect yourself, and sometimes your children.  Your ex-spouce may be manipulative or dangerous.  Acceptance does not mean passivity, it means living in the present, the future and not in the pain of the past.

Here are six steps to feeling yourself again.

1. Mourn:  You sacrificed a lot for your marriage and it didn’t work out.  You will need to go through the stages of grief – denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance.  Find a good therapist to work with who can help you through the grieving process and into the process of healing.

2. Admit and Accept:  Admit and accept that you cannot control everything.  It is hardly productive to focus on the “what ifs” of the past.  Admit and accept that breaking up cost you something – be it emotionally, financially or both.  Bad things do happen to good people.

3. Trust:  Have faith that you won’t feel like this forever.  Healing is what your body and soul really want.  And healing is what your children really want, and need.  Perhaps this  is an opportunity for spirituality which can sometimes be the missing piece of one’s existance.  Try to see your story as a part of the complete human experience.  Metitation and observation can be liberating.

4. Forgive:  Forgive yourself, forgive the universe and if possible, forgive your ex.  Understand that everyone carries their own injuries, and that he or she may be fighting their own demons.

5. Make Centered Decisions:  Forgive is not to forget. Become more aware so that you can move forward.  If this means self-protection, then self-protect. If it means allowing your children to see your ex, with whom you are very angry, but who is a loving parent, allow it to happen.  Wounds of the past should not prevent you from making sound decisions.  Plus, taking care of business properly feels good.

6. Accept:  You are now in a place where you can understand what happened to you more clearly.  Acceptance is necessary, and at some point you will not need to fight the past and you will be able to see things with a clear perspective.

In the aftermath of divorce, your emotions may seem overwhelming, it is important to experience them all from outrage to hurt to self doubt and the fear of what comes next.  Grief work is required, and it’s a necessary componenet of healing.