The choice to enter counseling often comes after some thought and consideration. Thinking about change and taking action to find support take courage. Whether a difficult life event has occurred, or over time you have wanted to improve certain areas of your life, even coming to visit a website is a step along the way. Mary works with this natural process of change - how you think, what you feel, and what will assist you in taking the next steps toward health. Compassion, empathy, respect, genuineness are cornerstones Mary uses to forming connection that will be the platform from which changes can be made. Our general orientation is Existential, which means we focus on each person's lived experience with little theoretical "overlay" and we attend to each person's unique experience of life. We attend to emotions, a sense of purpose and meaning, and living life fully with less regret. Other modalities below supplement this foundational perspective.
Mary’s work includes a strong focus on interpersonal relationships. Our sense of purpose and meaning often come from our connections with loved ones. Advances in neurobiology have shown how we are wired for connection and help us understand how connection supports our strength and resiliency. Our ability to manage our relationships with others at home, work, school, and other activities is important to our experience of belonging and having a role or place in the world.
Couples and families can work with immediate emotions and experience in the moment, take home skills to practice, target conflict resolution skills right in session, and more. Mary works with each couple and family to deepen connection, improve communication, and heal from past events.
Also, she has worked locally to create referral lists of mental and physical health providers in the Reno-Sparks area who are affirmative and friendly for LGBTIQIAP individuals, couples, and families. Under health provider referrals are those who may assist with the transgender transition process at various stages and ages of transition. Ask about our referal list of providers (doctors, endocrinologists, plastic surgeons, estheticians, resources for voice lessons, contacts and information for local support groups, and more).
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. EMDR uses an information processing therapy used to work with trauma and anxiety - from catastrophic traumatic events to smaller, chronic stressful life events - all of which can shape our beliefs about ourselves and our world, our emotional reactions, and our physical sensations. EMDR has show efficacy in working with myriad mental health concerns related to trauma and anxiety. The process works by accessing the natural process in our brains to resolve past experiences. EMDR uses bi-lateral stimulation (one side of our body to the other - right and left) through visual, tactile, or auditory methods, while attending to three areas of our experiences: past events, current situations, and future behaviors. EMDR combines elements of psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, and experiential therapies for a comprehensive and integrated treatment approach.
Whatever the internal processes during MI [Motivational Interviewing] that inspire change and strengthen commitment, they surely involve the whole brain including our capacity for love, hope, interest, compassion, and joy. - William R. Miller,
MINT Bulletin, 2009, Vol. 15 No. 1
Mary uses Motivational Interviewing in her work with individuals, couples, and families to assist with behavior changes, to help resolve ambivalence, and to work through challenges that arise in the course of the change process. Motivational Interviewing is both centered on the client and directed toward change, assisting people in the change process by building on and using each person’s strengths, values, dreams, and goals. Motivational Interviewing is fundamentally respectful, collaborative, affirming of each person’s unique strengths and abilities.
While it is not at all incompatible with giving advice or teaching new skills, a motivational interviewing method places its main bets on the person’s own resourcefulness. The overall view is that confidence (like the importance aspect of motivation for change) is not something to be imposed but, rather, is evoked from the person, literally called (voiced) forth in the person’s own words and ideas… finding hope and confidence for change is a collaborative process in which the counselor is privileged to participate. - William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick, Motivational Interviewing, 2nd edition.
Gottman Method Couples Therapy
Dr. John Gottman has used physiological measures and self-assessment to understand what happens to couples in conflict, and what kinds of behaviors predict unhappy marriages or divorce. He has also studied healthy couples - the "masters" of relationship as he calls them - who have stayed together and report satisfaction in their unions. His research has informed couples on how to improve their relationships in practical and realistic ways. Couples struggling with long-standing unsolvable problems, who want to build on their strengths and navigate their challenges to ensure they stay on track, or who are on the brink of separation due to conflict and loss of friendship can gain tools, perspective, and hope.
We are connected, for better or worse, and when these connections are healthier, we are healthier. Mary helps families steer away from judgment, blame, or finding fault with one another, and toward finding healthier patterns and ways to connect that still fit the individual, the family, and the values of the family's culture. In Family Systems work, we do not look for blame, we look for how people influence each other and how to improve interactions to increase connection. We look for health, and build on that healthy functioning, we look for relational strengths and help individuals, couples, and families use these strengths.
Dialectial Behavioral Therapy
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a model of therapy created by Marsha Linehan for adolescents and adults who were struggling with chronic self-harm, suicidal ideation, frequent suicide attempts, anger and aggression in interpersonal relationships, and other emotion regulation concerns. DBT embraces paradox. Acceptance strategies are used - we are human, we have feelings - often intense feelings - and these are part of who we are and part of what makes life meaningful and rich. We also have preferences, needs, and desires that are important and worth acknowledging to ourselves and to our loved ones. Having our loved ones be able to really see us, whether they agree with us or not, is often a part of true intimacy. DBT combines this acceptance process with change strategies: taking responsibility for our choices, knowing that how we behave and act can benefit or destroy our relationships. Though fully comprehensive DBT programs are developed to help those who struggle the most with intense emotional ups and downs, one need not have this level of intensity to benefit from DBT-informed treatment.
Everyone has people in their lives that are gay, lesbian or transgender or bisexual. They may not want to admit it, but I guarantee they know somebody. - Billie Jean King
Managing coming out, intern and external homophobia, transphobia, and cultural heterosexism are challenging tasks. Families can become disconnected through shame, misunderstanding, and painful beliefs. Navigating parenting, keeping committed partnerships strong and healthy, making gender transitions, maintaining hope and balance in one's life are challenging tasks in a world where acceptance and equality remain illusive.
Therapeutic assistance can be considerably valuable in helping families and couples find their way through these waters. Mary works with individuals, couples, and families to meet the challenges LBGTIQIAP people face in today’s world.