Sarah, when did you decide to go into Marriage and Family Therapy?
In high school, my interest in psychology began. But my interest in people, their inner world, their outer interactions, and social influences have been of interest to me since childhood. If I had to guess on a moment that made a lasting impact, I always come back to my immigration to America. I was a child, so it could just be a timing coincidence, but that’s what I typically come back to. I vividly remember being so interested in those around me and those in this new world of mine. Wanting to understand why people are they way they are, why people act and interact in the way they do, etc. In college, I had two professors who guided my psychology passion towards Marriage and Family Therapy. One even introduced me to Jennine, and that’s where my Estes Therapy journey began!
Do you have advice for someone who is considering counseling?
Counseling is for everyone. The sooner you begin, the sooner you will start your journey towards your goals and making the formidable changes to become the you that you want to be (or figure out who that is!). And, the sooner you will make the changes in your relationship so all parties feeling safe, heard, valued, and fulfilled. Counseling is wonderful for self discovery, relationship tune-ups, overcoming specific obstacles, relearning communication, and rediscovering (or discovering for the first time) love for yourself. Additionally, therapy makes the world of a difference in recovering from anxiety, depression, addiction, eating disorders, loss, infidelity, or trauma. You are not your diagnosis, but therapy can help you learn to make sense of, and live with, your diagnosis. Physical or mental.
What would you say to someone who is nervous about setting up their first counseling session with you?
I would say take a deep breath: breathing in deeply for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and exhale slowly for 8 seconds. Do that two more times: inhale 4 — hold 7 — exhale slowly for 8. It make sense that you are nervous. Therapy is centered around vulnerability, and being vulnerable is scary. You are showing your most open, true self. You are also prioritizing yourself. Possibly for the first time in a long time, or ever. That can be an odd feeling.Take a moment to remind yourself: starting therapy means honoring yourself, and your relationship. You are saying this is important to me, I am important to me, and I am taking action to feel fulfilled. And that is amazing.
Is there a special area you focus on within the therapy field?
I work with couples and individuals, adolescents and adults. I have worked extensively with adolescents diagnosed with eating disorders; and I have worked at Estes Therapy, a LGBTQA+ affirmative EFT clinic, for 7 years. I am excited for this next phase of my therapy journey where I can work with an assortment of issues and a variety of people. I love being able to give my clients tangible tools they can implement in their everyday life. Distress tolerance, understanding and regulating emotions, mindfulness, relearning communication, and challenging cognitions are particularly important topics to me.
How do you pass your time when you are not working with clients?
I love exploring new places – cities, forests, deserts, coastlines… you name it. I love being out in nature hiking, swimming, running, snowboarding, stargazing, surfing, and camping. I also enjoy good coffee, food, and beer/cocktails. I bartended in a brewery/bar through college, so the brewery process is dear to me. Often, on Friday nights my partner and I go all out with an at-home dinner where he cooks and I make a drink to go with it. I also love art! I love music, especially live, and my favourite mindfulness activities are drawing and painting.
If you were not a therapist, what would you be doing?
In an ideal world I would be paid to travel. I have traveled through Europe, Central America, and once I drove from the top of Washington back down to San Diego — staying in a truck with a camper shell the whole way. Again, I love exploring. The only career I think I would pick over therapy is being paid to travel.