I have a passion for helping children and adults feel seen, heard, and valued. It is a privilege to witness people find their strengths and build stronger connections. Most of all, I want to help you discover new perspectives to those parts of life that don’t seem to work. I don’t have all the answers, but I will honor your story. Thanks for visiting!
Striving To Thrive
Our strengths and struggles represent our best attempts to respond to the things that happen (or don’t happen) in life. In order to grow we must get curious about the nature and source of these adaptations. Many times, we will find undeveloped skills, mistaken beliefs, or unmet needs hidden beneath the surface. Once understood, this information can hold the key to creating lasting change.
Changing The Brain
The brain undergoes an immense process of development that spans the course of decades. Even as adults our brains continue to change in response to our relationships, habits, and choices. When we learn more about how the brain drives our behavior, we can remove some of the shame and blame about our personal challenges. We can help guide our brains towards optimal well-being.
Shaped By Relationship
Humans are wired to form close and enduring relationships. Our relational experiences, especially those in early childhood, can influence our own sense of identity and our ability to trust others. We are literally shaped by those we love. As adults we often times don’t realize that these old patterns are still operating. It becomes easier to gain awareness in the context of a secure relationship.
The Power of Play
Children are inherently driven to play. Through play we learn about the world, connect with others, and practice different ways of being. It is through these often joyful activities that we can safely access and integrate aspects of our inner experience. As adults we often forget to play but finding ways to introduce creativity and diversion into our lives can have powerful benefits.
Beginning counseling is continuing your journey towards well-being. I will meet you wherever you may be starting from and walk with you on this path. It won’t always be easy, and it will definitely take a commitment, but the destination is worth the investment.
Our work will start with a period of assessment where I will seek to understand your world so that we can work together to define the problem, illuminate the underlying issues, and then set a course for treatment. From the beginning I will work with you to create a safe and caring therapeutic relationship. With this solid foundation in place we can then access and use new tools for reaching a place of inner awareness and relational abundance.
I offer therapy that is experiential and collaborative. I use play therapy, sand tray therapy, and other methods that help provide a platform for creation and expression. Even in a talk therapy session I am likely to use metaphors, symbols, and visualization. Sometimes I will also incorporate the use of EMDR and other brain and body-based treatments our work together.
Education and Training
I graduated from Florida State University with a Master’s in Social Work in 2010. I have over a decade of experience in child welfare, adoptions, early intervention, and community mental health, all of which means I’ve been in the trenches. I have completed training in a variety of topics, including play therapy, sandtray play therapy, trauma, attachment, and adoption competent therapy. In the future, I plan on further study in brain and body-based therapies as well as adult attachment.
C.A.S.E Training for Adoption Competency 2018
Progressive Counting Trauma Treatment 2018
Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) 2017
EMDR Basic Training 2017
Adlerian Play Therapy Intensive 2016 & 2018
Theraplay Level 1 & 2 2016 & 2017
Body-Brain Approach to Sandtray Play Therapy 2015-2018
Areas of Interest
I believe in your (or your child’s) ability to heal, grow, or change once the right conditions have been set. I enjoy working with a variety of presenting concerns, because at the end of the day these things are the symptoms not the cause. I help people of all ages who are struggling to find their rhythm in life learn to access their own inherent drive towards healing.
I have a particular interest around the following treatment areas.
Adoption or Foster Care History
Childhood or Recent Trauma
Attachment & Relationships
Developing Life Balance
Challenging Behaviors & Patterns
Personal Growth & Development
Finding Joy, Freedom, & Purpose
More About Marissa
I have always been a helper at heart. I was the kid at school that would welcome the new boy or befriend the shy girl. From early on I knew that there was serious value to be found in authentic connection and truly being seen.
My love of story and how the stories we tell shape our views of the world reinforced my drive to connect with others. I have this sometimes unrelenting curiosity about how things fit together in the big picture. I believe that every person is born with their own unique brand of awesomeness, but sometimes life gets in the way of letting it shine. Luckily, the work I do helps me find balance with these lofty ideals through the whimsy and creativity I get to practice or witness every day.
I am a recovering perfectionist and a reformed procrastinator (which is a fun combination to say the least). I’m not afraid to say that I’m still learning and growing. I spend my free time relaxing with family, conversing with friends, exploring new places, and enjoying simple pleasures. I love learning, reading, and finding things that make me smile (funny dog videos usually do the trick).