In my lifetime, I have experienced marriage, divorce, single parenting, financial hardship, starting and running my own business, and the care and death of my parents. I am a lover of animals, especially dogs, and continually support the rescue centers in the bay area. I enjoy being in nature, and can often be found hiking in Yosemite. My biggest desire is to have therapy sessions outdoors in the natural environment with furry friends in tow!
In addition to being a psychologist, I have been a portrait photographer for over 30 years. Photography was, and still is, a very important tool I use to observe and record the celebration of life around me. Having been drawn to capturing the essence of human life from the beginning of my relationship with the camera, I proceeded to develop and nurture the intuition needed in securing the images that showed the subject’s true spirit.
What I discovered early on in my portrait business was how the majority of my clients would focus on what they did not like to see in their portrait, whether it was their nose, wrinkles, or size of their body. I was amazed to find such self criticism when I only saw beautiful portraits. It seems it is socially expected to have normative discontent with our own appearance.
This experience led me to researching the social factors that influence body image and identity development. As a result of this research I discovered that the most predictable symptom of having an eating disorder is having negative body image. Given that eating disorders have the second highest mortality rate of all mental illness, and that I had personal experience in the debilitating effects of an eating disorder, I wanted to help find a remedy.
The enormous psychological influence that visuals have on our culture cannot be overemphasized, and acknowledging the power of this influence is the first step in altering how we see things. Much of our identity is formed through the internalization of the many images we are exposed to in our environment on a daily basis. We believe these images to be true many times without conscious thought, while they carry messages about body type, race, age, sexual orientation, class, and gender “norms.”
It was my love of photography that inspired me to use the camera’s prism to help people see themselves with a new perspective. In addition, I furthered my education in clinical psychology to obtain the skills necessary to guide people towards healing. Over the years I have developed a therapy I term the Photo Identity Process (PIP) which combines the healing benefits of using self-portraits in accessing and altering our unconscious negative self-stories. It is my mission to close the gap between what we want to see and what we do see; a kind of re-building the relationship between self and self-image. Through the use of portraits, one can reconstruct the internally adopted stories about self by changing perspective to one that is more holistic and healthy.
I hope this small glimpse into my background and philosophy helps you in choosing a therapist that is right for you. It can be a daunting endeavor to search for that person you are willing to be vulnerable with. Let me know how I can help.