About Therapy

Choosing the right therapist…

How in the heck does one choose a therapist from the myriad ones out there? Is it by credentials? Looks or smile (not to be shallow here, but being real)? Location? The kind of therapy?

Education? But how does one decipher the alphabet soup all those letters mean, even after they tell you?

It’s enough to bring on another headache and make one want to say, “Just screw it. It’s not worth it anymore.” And give up. But maybe this page will help you decide if taking a risk with me is worth it.

I will try to tell you enough about me, what it means to work with me, and what to expect in therapy… so that you can decide.

A safe place for you…

My office is a sanctuary where you can share your deepest fears, worries, and struggles.

I’ll sit across from you, and you can tell me your story…

Why are you coming to seek counseling?

What are your hopes and dreams?

How have you been hurt?

Problems that keep coming back like a bad penny…

Sure, we all want to be a better person… but maybe can’t figure it out (for the life of you)!

Tired of arguing so much… or being angry… or depressed?

Are you fighting with anxiety that leaps out of nowhere to grab you by the throat?

Have you tried pills or drugs to ease the stress, but it always boomerangs back?

Thought about just ending it all… permanently?

Giving it another shot…

Maybe you’re ready to give it one last shot with a therapist that you could trust.

But who? Who would understand? Who wouldn’t judge you for it and turn away in horror or disgust? Or fear?

Who would have the compassion, empathy and skill to help?

A plan to bring hope to your life…

I offer a compassionate, listening ear… and, together, we will make a therapeutic plan for the best course of action to bring hope to your life.

I do not do a “one size fits all” kind of therapy. We’ll base it on your availability, what you can afford, and what fits for you.

What therapy looks like…

I like to be creative, so maybe I’ll ask you to draw a picture (no need to be an artist!)…

… or tell me a story… or write a letter. Maybe we’ll create a collage or play a game.

Sometimes I have you fill out a questionnaire to better determine underlying causes of depression or how severe it is.

Maybe we’ll do a personality test to get you on a path of greater self-knowledge.

Anything we do will have the goal of helping you through the therapeutic process.

The best kind of therapy…

… is where you feel safe enough to relax and let your guard down so that real healing can happen.

It’s a space where you feel seen, heard, and believed in.

It’s where your voice matters and what you say has impact.

In short, where YOU MATTER.

What we don’t do in therapy…

I don’t listen to stories and problems of anyone not actually present in the room. I cannot help them, fix them, or change them. Some hope that is exactly what I will do: give them weapons to use against those that have hurt them. But I do not know their story, and they cannot speak for themselves.

So, the focus will remain on you, the client in my office… which is where change can happen.

What I believe in…

I believe in the beauty and resiliency of the human spirit.

I believe change can happen given time, effort, support, and hope.

I believe that beauty, more than truth or dogma, will change a human heart.

I believe we are created by the hands of the highest divine being (that some call “God”) and, for that reason alone…

The deepest truth of who we are is goodness and beauty, not evil and brokenness. One of my goals as a therapist is to help my clients see that as true.

From a neuroscientific perspective, it is better to focus on being a good person than to avoid being a bad one. What we focus on grows new neuropathways in our brains. Why not focus on being what we want to be?

About Me

How I got into therapy…

Perhaps it started as a kid, when growing up in three different countries taught me that not everyone thought, acted, or believed the same. What was a “sin” in one place was the cultural norm in another. A superstition by which to live your life in one was a punch line to a joke in another.

At a very young age, I already saw that not everyone was the same. It got me started on the path of curiosity and, dare I say, the “meaning of it all” – especially as I got older and could think in such terms.

My counseling degree opened many more doors of learning and personal growth, for which I am grateful. I’m now able to share my years of learning through a cross-cultural upbringing and wisdom gained by parenting and living life.

My education (and why it matters to you)…

My undergraduate degree was in theology, and my master’s education was at a seminary. I have always believed that what we believe about God (including a non-belief) affects how we view and treat ourselves – and others.

I grew up in three different countries: Brazil, Portugal, and the United States… so I am bilingual (English and Portuguese). But I know that not all language is the spoken one. We communicate with our bodies and facial expressions, too, and I bring those communication skills to my practice.

With minors in history and psychology, I learned how the history of a nation affects the history of the individual: How a nation sees itself in the world can have a direct impact on how individuals treat their families and neighbors. It’s a cultural thing, and I bring that perspective to my counseling.

We can’t forget the joy of learning…

I once heard a professor speak on a topic he had been teaching for decades, and he was dry, boring, and uninspiring. He believed he had learned all there was to learn on the subject (and that simply wasn’t true). He had forgotten the joy of learning.

I must have made a vow then, for I have since enjoyed an unquenchable thirst to learn and grow.

I’ve learned how the body and the mind communicate with each other… but many have been taught to sever that connection and stay mostly in their heads, paying no attention to the signals of the body. I believe that connection can be restored.

I’ve also learned how we can form grooves of bad habits in our brains. But our brains are really quite capable of change… capable of forming good habits, growing, and changing.

I’ve learned how trauma can affect the brain and how to help.

I’ve learned how personality differences can wreak havoc on communication and interpersonal connection, but learning what those are can bring a sense of relief, renewal, and hope.

I’ve learned (through my own therapy) how to communicate more effectively… and the pitfalls of some relatively benign but sneaky habits that must be broken in order to change the dynamic in relationships.

What I love in life…

I love my four kids and the growing list of grandchildren.

I love artistic expression and am learning quilting. I’ve dabbled in watercolor and embroidery.

I love listening to podcasts, reading books, and watching shows and movies that teach me new things about life, God, and others… and I love sharing those with my clients.

I love audible books, from fantasy to mysteries and autobiographies… listening to them while coloring with my huge collection of markers and pencils (can one ever have too many??).

I love bearing witness to the “a-ha” moments that shine on people’s faces when a new thought appears.

I love facilitating the birth of a new life: a life free of toxic religion, toxic masculinity, or burdensome expectations and unwritten rules… a life free of the debilitating effects of depression and anxiety brought on by the same.

Let’s start your therapeutic journey… today.

If this page has resonated with you… connected with you on some level… contact me, so we can begin the process.

My passion is to spread freedom of thought, feelings, ideas, and actions that bring hope and healing to humankind.

Let’s start with you. It will give me great joy and honor to be a part of your life as you journey toward healing and wholeness.

Call me at (720) 201-5030 or email me at judy@youbelongcounseling.com today!