Incorporating Creativity, Expressive Arts, Mindfulness, Nature & Play
Welcome! You are likely here to learn more about my services as a therapist, supervisor, or as a presenter. Here is some information to learn more about me professionally as well as personally.
I am a Master's level clinical social worker with over 34 years of experience providing therapy with children, teens and families. My specialty areas are for children and youth from 3 - 19, although at times I have seen younger children (screening is necessary for two year olds) as well as through college age.
I have extensive experience and specialized training in ecotherapy, expressive arts therapies, play therapy, and sandtray therapy as well as mindfulness-based practices. I include parents when possible in treatment including family therapy. Parents and caregivers are important and needed partners in this healing process.
I am a huge advocate for creativity and play- especially outside. We are never tool old to be creative and play! There are many emotional wellness benefits with play and nature. These are particularly enhanced with opportunities for free play, which does not happen nearly as much as needed. I both advocate and encourage for children to have times to be loud, messy, and even a little risky playing outdoors as well as times to be silent, still, and focused. Nature truly does answer both our call to be wild and our need to be mild.
As part of this growing practice to integrate nature as part of the healing process , I am especially proud of a collaborate book project that four colleagues and I co-edited called: "Nature-based Play & Expressive Therapies: Interventions for Working with Children, Teens & Families" which was released in March 2022 by Routledge.
It has also been rewarding to be part of the Healthy Parks Healthy Person TN (HPHP) program for several years in a professionally supportive capacity to represent children and mental health. HPHP is a non-profit prescription-based program where participants can earn points towards rewards by spending active time in nature. I translate these activities as playful opportunities for the children and families I work with. HPHP recently released a documentary about the need for activity in nature and I was so excited to be included! I was able to share about the needs for children, teens and their families to be in nature in our documentary. Here is the documentary link to learn more about this great program and the healing benefits of nature: https://youtu.be/zXWEGal3P8I
After working with a community mental health center for over 27 years, first in Murfreesboro and then later in Smyrna, I transitioned to private practice beginning in late 2016 and was full-time beginning January 2017. I was able to join a small group of independent therapists I had previously worked with, all of whom I have known for over 25 years.
I am also now a full-time instructor at Middle TN State University (MTSU) in the Dept. of Social Work. I began teaching part-time as an Adjunct Professor first with MTSU in January 2018 and then Lipscomb that summer in their Play Therapy Specialization for their Master's in Mental Health Counseling. I became part of MTSU's full-time faculy in August 2021, and adjust my counseling schedule around the courses I teach each semester. I have truly enjoyed teaching the next generation of social workers and therapists. They inspire me!
Due to my teaching schedule, supervision requests, writing projects and presentations, my practice is currently part-time. I have more information regarding my practice, training offereds as well as supervision opportunities on separate pages of this website.
I network with other professionals and serve our community and am a member of the following organizations:
Children and Nature Network (charter member)
Educator's Neighborhood of Fred Rogers Institute (appointment for academic years 2022-2024)
Health Parks Healthy Person TN (advisory group member to represent children and mental health)
International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (professional member)
International Play Association (member)
Rutherford County Coalition Against Child Abuse (previous board member)
Rutherford County Psychotherapy Association (current president)
Social Work Association of Middle Tennessee (council member)
U.S. Play Coalition (member)
On a Personal Note...
I was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee where for most of my childhood we lived on a small farm before moving to a small town in Kentucky. I returned to Nashville to attend Lipscomb University and stayed in Tennessee afterwards.
Having always been a social person, I enjoy having friends and doing things with them- esp. being a "boy mom" time spent with my female friends is pretty important for my self-care. I admit I get pretty passionate about sports events with "my teams" involved, so it's not unusual to hear me shout for my Bisons (the "Battle of the Boulevard" in basketball is epic) or Vols in sports events- esp SEC football and now basketbal too! On a quieter side I do love to read, play games, and just be out in nature. I especially enjoy the beautiful Smoky Mountains or just about any beach, especially those along Florida's Emerald Coast. I would love to someday live at least part of the year at the beach or the mountains- or both!
Suess Landing at Universal Studios!
I've been married for over 34 years to my childhood sweetheart! We have been blessed with two sons and have enjoyed doing things together as a family - from game nights to scouts, and especially going on vacations! That's when we can get away, relax and do some really fun things together - though it can get a little harder to get together now that they are both adults pursuing their own dreams- which means I treasure our times together even more. I have absolutley loved being their mom sharing the parenting adventure with their dad by my side. My younger son is married, so I also have a daughter-in-law as well! I can't wait to see what is next in store for our family.
I was also blessed with a really great mom whom I shared so much with! She taught me to enjoy life and be thankful for our blessings. Her acts of service both in and out of our church were a great example as I was growing up. She always loved working with children and was a beloved grandmother as well. When people tell me I remind them of my mom- I take that as the highest compliment! I miss her every day but so grateful for all of our time together.
Finally, my story is not complete without acknowledging how my faith is the foundation of who I am and what I do. I do not impose this on clients, but my faith is an important part of my life and helps me cope with life's disappointments, hurts and stressors. I will always be thankful for my earthly blessings of faith, family, friends and career. I often take comfort in the following scripture: