I am a Clinical Psychologist in Aiea (Pearl City area) offering psychotherapy to adults and couples, group therapy, and premarital counseling.I also offer consultation to healing professionals and therapists, as well as a one-time or ongoing supervision for students as part of their internship and/or training.
I am highly specialized in treating these three complex issues:
- Substance abuse/dependency
- Depression and anxiety
- Grief and loss
Please read more about each of my specialties below!
My Approach to Therapy
I use a brief, solution-focused approach. I’m of the mindset that people walk through my doors because they want help NOW. My practice philosophy is centered on offering immediate help with the aspects of your life that you are ready to transform.Working with me in therapy is not intended to be a long-term process—instead it is a place to get your bearings and collect the provisionsthat you will need to continue on your journey successfully.
My role as your therapist will be to establish our alliance, guide us in collaboratively setting goals for change, and provide a supportive and safe space where you can learn and practice new skills that will effect real changes in your life outside of my office. Much of my work emerges from a cognitive-behavioral (CBT) perspective, explained below. I also hold a holistic broad-spectrum view of your situation, taking into account the biological, psychological, and social factors that influence your experience.
How Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Can Help?
Often, one of the first questions people ask when they call me is: How will cognitive behavioral therapy help me with my addiction? With my marriage? With my depression and/or anxiety? With my unresolved and/or on-going grief?
Simply, CBT is a way to understand and change what we think, feel, and do, in order to have a better outcome. One of the central tenets of CBT (as shown in the diagram below) is that our thoughts, feelings, and behavior occur in a self-perpetuating pattern.
In this way, we often find ourselves unintentionally creating our own distress, chaos, and mess. In other words, our thoughts and our feelings dictate and determine our behavior. We all experience psychological challenges in life, but we can learn to view these situations differently (thoughts) so that we will FEEL and ACT (behavior) differently.In this way, a situation that used to feel scary and out of control can shift when we use our learned tools to disrupt the cycle and become powerful agents of change!
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy helps you understand this seemingly complicated process so it’s not so scary. It will allow you to see that it’s not the actual “event” that triggered the emotional meltdown, but rather the distorted perpetual patterns of our “thinking and beliefs” that we utilize to interpret these events.
I will work closely with you to help unveil the “scary” component behind your faulty thinking and behavioral patterns, and how they continue to negatively impact your life, so that you can shift into more successful ways of thinking and doing.
Although every situation is unique and complex, the underlying philosophy of the CBT approach is this simple:Change Your Thinking &Behaviors – Change your Outcome!When combined with a supportive therapeutic relationship, CBT is a powerful mechanism to identify and move past old patterns into the new life you deserve.
Substance Abuse Recovery — Help with Life After Addiction
“I feel like no matter how hard I try, all it takes is one mistake before they condemn me again!”
“If they are going to assume I’m using, then I might as well use and/or drink!”
One of my specialties as a therapist is supporting individuals, especially women with post-substance abuse issues, including re-integration back into society, family, motherhood, and re-establishing themselves as a professional woman when others can only see you as an addict.
I am one of the few psychotherapists in the Pearl City area with both PsyD & CSAC credentials. In other words, as a Clinical Psychologist I am able to address issues such as anxiety or depression, while also utilizing my training as a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor to treat and understand substance issues.
I have undergone extensive training in the Matrix Model of intensive outpatient therapy, meaning that I can deliver substance abuse treatment from beginning (intake) to end (continuing care and discharge). In addition to CBT, I use a therapeutic modality called Motivational Interviewing (MI). This is a flexible, non-confrontational and accepting treatment technique that is designed tomove you toward health changes by providing empathy through reflective listening;identifying discrepancies between your goals/values and your behavior;and supporting self-efficacy and optimism.
Additionally, I am an Approved Assessor for the State of Hawaii regarding DUI assessments and substance use assessments.
Surviving Depression and Anxiety, So You Can Learn to Thrive
“I really don’t want to isolate, but it’s just too hard being around so many people.”
“They’d never miss me so…I just don’t see the point in making the effort…”
Life comes at us FAST sometimes with a curve ball from nowhere. Feeling unhappy or anxious can be a normal response to intense difficulties like divorce, losing employment, or illness. On a more extreme level, these kinds of abrupt changes can sometimes cause weeks or months of sadness, worry, or frustration—the kind of deep and frightening emotional experience that interferes with the day-to-day and affects relationships with your friends and/or family. When this happens, CBT can be an effective way to enhance coping and reframe your experience.
Just as we often find ourselves “catastrophizing” a situation to death and unintentionally escalating our own negative reactions to what’s happened, we also have the power through CBT to replace negative thought patterns in order to actually create how we want to feel. You will find that CBT can teach you to turn depression or anxiety on its head so that you become a healthier, stronger, more resilient version of yourself.
Grief and Loss—Coping Tools and Empathetic Support
“I know they said grief takes time but… I feel so lost and hopeless.”
“I hate it when they tell me ‘This too shall pass’ or “They’re in a better place.’ No one seems to actually understand how I’m feeling right now.”
Loss is a part of life, but at times it can knock us over with the sheer weight of grief emotions. And the well-meaning but clueless responses of family and friends can add to the difficulty of facing life after a loved one has died. The pain of loss can feel so overwhelming and littered with unexpected emotions: perhaps shock, anger, disbelief, profound sadness, relief, or guilt, or some combination of these. Your progress through grief at any particular moment may vacillate, repeat, or feel stuck. All of these emotional experiences of loss can disrupt our physical health with sleep difficulties, eating changes, trouble concentrating, and inability to make the simplest of daily decisions.
Although there is no right or wrong way to grieve, it can help tremendously to have a collaborative partner in working through and processing your grief. Together we can develop healthy alternatives for coping with the pain. In time, you will be able to come to terms with your loss and move on to a place where, while still remembering and loving the person you’ve lost, you’ll have the ability to feel a full range of positive emotions again. It is possible to integrate this loss into the rest of your life, simultaneously acknowledging the tremendous influence of this event while also choosing to embrace the rest of what life has to offer.
In addition to my professional training and experience in counseling those who are grieving, I also bring to the table my own personal experience with loss that allows me to empathize deeply with your grief struggles.