Education & Training
Princeton University, 1998, BA Psychology, Specialization in Neuroscience
Meditation Training, 1999, Vipassana (mindfulness-based) meditation training and 60-day meditation retreat in Thailand
Integral Yoga Institute, 2001, Certified Yoga & Meditation Teacher
Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (Sofia University), 2003, MA Transpersonal Psychology, 2004, MA Counseling Psychology
Insight Yoga & Mindfulness Meditation, 2005, Sarah Powers Yin Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Training
Parenting By Connection / Hand in Hand Parenting Teacher Training, 2008, Certified Parent Educator
Hakomi (Mindfulness-Based Somatic Therapy), 2010, Hakomi Professional Skills Training
Positive Discipline Parent Educator Training, 2016, Certified Parent Educator
EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, 2016, Level 1 and Level 2 Training
EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, 2018, Additional EMDR Training
Beyond Pain Management, 2019, Howard Schubiner & Alan Gordon
Mindfulness-Based Approach to Treating Chronic Worry and OCD in Children, 2019, JFK University
Somatic Experiencing, 2019, Peter Levine
Internal Family Systems Weekend, 2019, Richard Schwartz
Mindfulness-Based Yoga & Meditation Training Level 2, 2019, Sarah Powers
Psychosynthesis of Palo Alto, 2004 – 2020, Psychosynthesis Training
Internal Family Systems Level 1, 2020, Nancy Sowell
Internal Family Systems Level 2: Shame, Depression & Anxiety, Ann Sinko & Mike Elkin
Somatic Internal Family Systems Retreat: 2022, Susan McConnell
Somatic Internal Family Systems Training: 2022, Susan McConnell
California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists: 2003 – present, CAMFT Member since 2004
“Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a difficult battle.” – Plato
We are all born whole. Certain life circumstances we encounter, however, can cause us to lose touch with essential aspects of ourselves, and can lead us far away from our true Self.
Drawing upon a wealth of modalities, including Internal Family Systems (IFS), Somatic IFS, Hakomi, Eye-Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) and Mindfulness-Based interventions, I guide clients in accessing their inner wisdom and support them in finding their way back home to themselves. I offer a warm, loving and compassionate presence as I help people move in the directions that are most meaningful and satisfying to them.
Instead of offering cookie-cutter solutions to people’s challenges, I custom tailor the therapeutic process to suit the unique needs of the individual with whom I am working. In so doing, I draw from a variety of modalities, including:
- Internal Family Systems (IFS)
- Somatic Internal Family Systems (Somatic IFS)
- Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Mindfulness-Based Somatic Therapy (Hakomi)
- Family Systems
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Creative Expression
- Play Therapy (with children)
- Non-Violent Communication
- Hand In Hand Parenting
- Positive Discipline
And perhaps most importantly, I listen. Patty Wipfler writes, “When you give another person your full, warm attention, you help their body and their mind move toward better functioning.”
By listening from a grounded, spacious, non-judgmental place, I help to provide a sense of regulation as people navigate distressing and challenging life experiences. As interpersonal neurobiologist, Dan Siegel, writes, “Find people who regulate you well, and stay near them.”
I consider it a true honor to walk with clients on their path, and I have learned a great deal from each person who has ever stepped into my office. I am sincerely grateful for the work that I do, which I find incredibly meaningful and deeply fulfilling.
I graduated with highest honors from Princeton University with a degree in Psychology and a specialization in neuroscience. During my time at Princeton, I swam on the varsity women’s swim team all 4 years, was active in the Women’s Center, served as a sexual harassment peer counselor, served as President of the Take Back the Night march, sang and played guitar at open-mic nights and founded a student-run organization to help women at a nearby Halfway House. Upon graduating, I received the “Spirit of Princeton” Award, the “Improving the Status of Women” Award, the “Neuroscience Thesis” Award for the most outstanding thesis in neuroscience, the “Leadership” Award on our Varsity Women’s Swim Team and the “Student-Athlete” Award for the varsity athlete with the highest grade point average.
I had reached nearly every one of my goals. Not only had I gotten straight A’s at one of the best schools in the country, I also contributed as much as I could to the the culture at Princeton.
Yet something was missing.
I had achieved so much, yet I was far from feeling fulfilled.
Over the course of the next few years, I came to realize that what was missing was a supportive and loving relationship – with myself. The one person I spent every day of my life with was very unkind to me, holding me to exceedingly high standards of achievement. I experienced a fleeting sense of relief when I met those standards, and I experienced dread when I didn’t. I learned, over time, that a path of achievement did not equal a path of fulfillment.
When I graduated from Princeton, I served as a research assistant in a prestigious neuroscience lab at UCSF. After one year, I began to question whether or not research was a path I wanted to pursue. I had an interest in meditation and Thai culture, so I decided to serve as a volunteer in a hospital in Thailand and take some time to figure out what I wanted to do for my work life. I was lucky enough to be placed with an incredibly wise and nurturing host mother, Ping, for my volunteer work. Ping and I spent several evenings talking late into the night – with our English-Thai dictionaries in hand – talking about vipassana meditation. I was an engaged and eager student, as I had begun to practice yoga and meditation in 1996 – during my time as a swimmer at Princeton. Ping introduced me to the practice of loving-kindness – a mindfulness meditation that I have practiced ever since – during our late night talks in Thailand in 1999. Lovingkindness has deeply transformed my life, at the heart of which is my relationship with myself.
After my volunteer work was complete, I went on to spend two months training in mindfulness meditation in Thai forest monasteries. The first month I spent 4 hours a day in meditation. The guidelines were: eat little, sleep little, talk little, read little.
The second month, I spent 18 hours a day in meditation, in a hut in Thailand by myself. The guidelines were: no writing, no reading, no talking (except withy my teacher). I met with my teacher for only 15 minutes a day, and otherwise I practiced walking mediation for one hour, followed by sitting meditation for one hour and so on, alternating for 18 hours a day. During my time steeped in meditation, I had deep insights into the nature of my own suffering and the drawbacks of an achievement orientation devoid of purpose, balance, self-compassion and wisdom. The relationship with myself and the world around me began to shift.
When I returned to the US, I explored the possibility of studying the neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. But after taking another research position in neuroscience – using MRI brain imaging – I realized that my passion for working directly with people and empowering people with mindfulness and other wellness tools was stronger than my interest in conducting research about the power of mindfulness. So I enrolled in a yoga & meditation teacher training at the Integral Yoga Institute and became certified to teach yoga and meditation in 2001.
That same year I enrolled in graduate school for counseling psychology at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (currently Sofia University), with a specialization in creative expression. The experiential education I received was deeply fulfilling for me, as was the focus on community. I came to prioritize community building as an essential ingredient for health and wellness, and I continued to cultivate a more compassionate relationship with myself. I navigated graduate school from a more balanced place, with the intention to sustain a caring relationship with myself and others while immersing myself in an academic environment.
I received a Masters in Transpersonal Psychology in 2003, and served as a counselor for teenagers in crisis at McCauley’s Adolescent Psychiatric Unit in San Francisco for a year. McCauley’s is an inpatient lock down unit for teenagers who are considered a danger to themselves or others. I received a Masters in Counseling Psychology in 2004. I went on to work with underprivileged youth and their families in schools through the Ravenswood School District in East Palo Alto. I learned a great deal about family systems through this work, and how to establish therapeutic connections with children and parents while working with them to promote mental health and wellbeing.
I then established a small private practice in Los Altos while teaching 10 yoga and meditation classes weekly in Palo Alto. During this time, I also began leading yoga and mindfulness retreats – both locally in California as well as internationally, in Brazil, Bali, Hawaii and Costa Rica.
In 2008, I took a 9-month training in Parenting By Connection (also known as Hand in Hand) to become a certified Parent Educator. A few years late, I became certified in Positive Discipline as well. I enjoy empowering parents with effective tools from both of these parenting modalities.
After giving brith to my son in 2009, I consolidated my schedule and decreased the number of yoga classes I taught each week, to maximize my time with family and increase my ability to work individually with clients as a Marriage & Family Therapist.
In 2014, I founded Mind Body Moms – to promote maternal health and wellness for the benefit of children, families and communities. In addition to offering Mindful Moms groups in Palo Alto, workshops and international retreats, we also raise funds in order to bring our integrative wellness groups to underserved moms in East Palo Alto, Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz and San Francisco, CA.
In 2018, I founded Mindful Child & Family Therapy, Inc, to promote emotional wholeness, interpersonal wellness and overall wellbeing. Our team of caring clinicians is on a mission to empower children and adults with tools to establish more compassionate relationships with themselves and others, as well as them helping to:
- Reduce anxiety / depression
- Improve mood
- Improve interpersonal relationships
- Increase resilience & grit
- Boost overall wellbeing
- Increase life satisfaction
I consider myself a lifelong learner, and I feel deeply grateful for the opportunity to learn from each person and family with whom I have the honor of working.
Thank you for your interest in my journey. I hope I have the honor of walking with you for part of yours.