LCSW, Certified Trauma Specialist
I obtained my Master’s in Social Work in 1995 and have worked in a variety of settings that have allowed me to grow in my skills of assessment, treatment planning, crisis intervention and trauma work. I have worked in the field of counseling and mental health now for over 20 years and have been in private practice since 2003.
Prior to private practice I worked in multiple agencies providing individual and family therapy to high risk adolescents and provided adolescent anger management and parent training. I became interested in teaching teens skills that increased their effectiveness of changing their emotions and how to change their expression of that emotion without suffering negative consequences. I found that many of the teenagers I worked with had significant trauma histories and traumatically invalidating environments including abuse, neglect, family addiction, poor communication, and many other struggles. This led me to explore Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) as many of these teenagers were developing patterns of extreme emotional dysregulation. At times the dysregulation was expressed through behavioral struggles such as self-harming, suicide attempts, addictive behaviors, aggression at school, and stealing or shoplifting.
Beach Therapy & Consulting was opened in 2013 to provide this unique and complicated treatment approach for adolescents, young adults, and adults of all ages. As I have trained, I have learned more about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I have grown more understanding of how complicated developmental trauma can affect a person and the struggle to know how to effectively cope with the various challenges to which basic, everyday life exposes us. I have grown less judgmental of my clients and more aware of how they have done the best they can under their circumstances. I am trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) however DBT is a modification of the standard CBT offering a balance between acceptance and change strategies in therapy.
I am trained in providing the DBT Prolonged Exposure Protocol for PTSD based on the adaptation by Melanie Harned, PhD of Edna Foa’s initial prolonged exposure work. Prolonged exposure has been used for many years to treat PTSD that developed from a one-incident trauma and has been available for combat veterans. This adaptation is designed for those that have may have developed PTSD from multiple traumatic experiences, often occurring in one’s development. Prolonged Exposure (PE) is evidence-based to treat active PTSD symptoms and this adaptation is woven into Stage 1 DBT treatment when a client is ready. This treatment offers hope for clients that there may be a period of their life where they will no longer meet the criteria for PTSD and suffer from the shame of the past.
In addition to my DBT work I enjoy working with adolescents and adults over the age of 12 in the areas of anxiety disorders, depression and bi-polar disorder, as well as family addiction, divorce, ACOA and family of origin issues, and substance abuse. I provide individual, family therapy, and facilitate DBT group skills weekly. I enjoy actively working with clients to identify their personal goals and grow in their ability to understand the difference between what they can change and what they need to learn to accept.
I am a Certified Trauma Specialist (NASW-VA) and clinical supervisor for licensure supervisees in social work. I am a member of the International OCD Foundation and of the NASW. I am an active member of the ethics committee of Virginia’s NASW. I offer licensure and non-licensure supervision for individuals and agencies. I have provided trainings for many years in a variety of areas including but not limited to suicide assessment, emotional regulation, anger management with teenagers, and family systems. I currently have interests in providing evidenced based treatment as a practice philosophy and supporting the growth and training needs of newer clinicians in the field through offering training grounds such as intern and residency sites. I am an active member of Beach Therapy & Consulting’s DBT treatment team. I am the co-owner of Beach Therapy with Dr. Savinsky and practice manager.
Education & Licensure
Master of Social Work, Norfolk State University
NASW-VA Ethics Committee Chairman
Clinical Supervisor in Social Work
Foundationally Trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Intensively Trained in Prolonged Exposure (PE) Protocol for DBT
Certified Trauma Specialist (CTS/ NASW-VA)