Meet Catherine (she/her)
I believe wholeheartedly that compassion, acceptance and kindness are the grounds for change and transformation. I approach therapy with a commitment to cultivating a sense of safety and agency as you explore your emotions, thoughts and sensations and to helping you “feel felt” through deep listening. The therapeutic space can be a refuge where you deepen your inner resources and you’ll be able to do that through experiencing and learning practices from a range of approaches including mindfulness meditation, EFT tapping and coaching in healthier interpersonal communication. Through working together, my hope is that you feel increased resilience, come to know (and befriend) yourself better, and move toward profound flourishing.
I come to clinical work with gratitude and humility as mine has been a meandering and rich path; right after social work school, I became a public interest attorney working with survivors of intimate partner violence, asylum seekers and low-income elderly. By far, however, the greatest challenge of my life was being a parent. By the time my second child was 11 years old, our family was in crisis mode. That’s when I found a beloved play therapist for him and signed up for a parenting class myself. Slowly, we turned our family around by adopting a needs orientation to behavior and more open, loving and assertive – rather than aggressive or passive-aggressive – communication.
Critical too was my recognition that this was a chance to reparent myself! I began healing and changing self-limiting beliefs through EFT tapping on memories and – with mindfulness meditation – growing my ability to be in the messiness and stress of life with more equanimity and self-love. A couple of years later I became a certified Parent Effectiveness Training instructor, leading courses where parents could practice active listening, collaborative problem-solving without using power, and imparting values in a way that they continue to have influence as leaders in their families. I loved this work so much that I later branched out to educators (Teacher Effectiveness Training) and teens (Youth Effectiveness Training). I’ve also done two mindfulness meditation teacher trainings.
My role as a therapist is to offer trustworthy companionship on your journey of remembering your inherent goodness and wholeness. I have done — and continue to do — inner work so that I can show up with my own regulated nervous system, helping your mind, body and heart start to believe that it’s ok to take off the armor that may keep us safe, but also keeps us alone. We are, after all, interconnected and interdependent; growing trust in ourselves and each other is perhaps the greatest gift, and hardest work, of our lifetime.
No matter where you are or what you are bringing, I will listen empathically, allowing you to explore problems at your own pace and start to find your own solutions. When you are ready and willing, I can share strategies that help you to be present with what is and move towards what you want. My own journey involved coming to know myself more deeply and recognizing the innocence of my/our conditioning – after all, we didn’t ask for these messages from family, institutions, society, culture, media etc. At the same time, is it possible to acknowledge our responsibility and longing to undo learned patterns and become more whole in service to self and others? Speaking from my own experience, I can say that it is.
Other things good to know about me: I am the first child of Korean immigrants and grew up with a single mom; I suffered for many years with perfectionism, anxiety and disconnection to my emotional life; I find solace in the dharma and practices of the Insight tradition of Buddhist meditation and am excited about Buddhist psychology; I am an RYT 200 yoga teacher and accredited in Emotional Freedom Techniques; my three adult children are 25, 23 and 20; and I’m a big ally to the LGBTQ community.
I would love to offer a free consultation for you to measure your comfort level with me. It’s important to like and resonate with the person accompanying you in the work of transformation. In our session, you can let me know what is on your heart and mind and what you would like from the therapeutic relationship and I can share more about my approach and perspective. This will be a good time to ask me any questions that will help you decide whether I’d be a beneficial counselor for you.