I am a native Chicagoan, as I grew up on the southwest side of Chicago. My family moved to the suburbs when I started high school, where I graduated from Lincoln-Way Community High School. For two years, I attended Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, as a Biology major, but realized that I had a passion for living in a large city and working more directly with people. I moved back to Chicago and transferred to the University of Illinois-Chicago where I graduated with my degree in Psychology while still taking courses in science and kinesiology. Before attending graduate school, I took a gap year and worked in what is now known as The Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the University of California-Irvine.
While doing my graduate work, I worked with adults who struggled with addiction issues. However, I soon discovered my interest in working with youth clients because of their ability to develop resiliency in challenging situations. This interest prompted me to return to Northern Illinois University in 2010 to obtain my educational license to work as a school counselor. In 2011, I took a position working overseas with the dependents of active military members in two high schools. For two years, I worked in Okinawa, Japan, and Heidelberg, Germany. The students I worked with were amazing, and I learned so much about our military and the challenges that military families face. Upon returning to the United States, I took a position at Elk Grove High School, where I helped to develop their credit recovery program. This program helped students to achieve missing credits toward graduation without taking night or summer school. At the end of the school year, I decided to work with a previous colleague of mine as a Director at a tutoring company in Chicago to develop my leadership and management skills. I worked at this position until coming to IMSA in 2016.
As a counselor, my main counseling modality is humanistic in nature. I believe in looking at people as an entire entity, rather than just looking at their past or certain current behaviors. I utilize many techniques of Motivational Interviewing, which is a client-centered technique, but also allows for people to set goals and tends to be a bit more directive than a traditional client-centered approach. I do integrate Existential techniques, which looks at meaning and understands that people have various levels of self-awareness, as well as Relational Cultural Theory, which looks to create a mutually positive relationship between counselor and client.
Currently, I am working on developing more directive techniques, like using DBT, which helps with skills related to emotional regulation and mindfulness, and Brief Solution Focused Therapy, which allows for the developing and achieving the person’s vision of solutions to problems, to work with students at IMSA. Currently, my personal life consists of everything school related, but when I do have some free time, I enjoy exercising and traveling with my spouse. My eventual retirement goal is to live in the La Rioja region of Spain in a house that has fantastic panoramic mountain views!
Education and Qualifications
- Doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision from Northern Illinois University
- Master’s in Clinical Psychology specializing in Counseling from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology
- Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in Illinois
- Professional Educational License in Illinois as a School Counselor
- Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC)
- Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS)