1. Who are you?
Hey there! I’m Niki and I am a wife, mom, friend, former teacher, and a mental health therapist. I have two teenagers, have been married to a great guy for 25 years, and after working in non-profit agencies and group private practices for 6 years, I was fortunate enough to open my own private practice in 2017.
2. Why are you a therapist?
This is such a great question! As a high school student, I was NOT one of the kids who knew what they wanted to study in college and what they wanted to be. I initially received my Bachelor of Arts degree in English because although I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, I did know that I loved reading and writing. I tried teaching because that’s what my peers were doing; however, after becoming a mom, I decided to stay home with my daughters. As they got a little more independent, I decided I wanted to go back to work. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do. I knew I loved helping people. I also knew how life’s problems can sometimes get too big or messy. Because I had first-hand experience of how much therapy had helped me navigate through some difficult times in life, I couldn’t think of a better way to help others than to support them as they made their own way through life’s challenges. I decided to go back to school and I earned my Master of Arts degree in Psychology. I’ve been practicing therapy since 2011, and I have loved what I do ever since. I enjoy seeing my clients every day and I never feel like I’m going to work!
3. How does therapy work?
Typical sessions are 50 minutes. As you can imagine, quite a bit of talking is usually involved. However, it is shared, collaborative dialogue. At times I may be more directive, and other times I may tend to listen more, depending on what you may need. I’m comfortable in both roles, and will always strive to match your needs. We may even go back and forth between the two in a single session, but we will always work together to figure out the best course for you. You are not in this alone; I use my education, training, and experience to help you get what you need out of our time together.
4. What kind of therapy do you do?
I specialize in working with various forms of trauma. I’m a Certified Trauma Therapist and a Certified EMDR Therapist. I also hold certifications in Domestic Violence and Crisis Intervention Stress Management. I have worked with individuals, including first responders, affected by the Las Vegas mass shooting, the San Bernardino school shooting, and the Montecito mudslides. As the wife of a firefighter, I love working with firefighters and police officers. I’ve been able to take my personal understanding of the unique challenges the profession can have on not only the first responder themselves but also their relationships and family and couple this with my professional knowledge and skills to help them navigate through their careers and relationships.
5. What do you think is the most important part of therapy?
Above all, you and your therapist have to be a good fit. Have you ever met someone for the first time and immediately felt a connection? We can’t always describe it when it happens, but there’s a certain feeling of comfortableness, like you’ve known them all your life. These are similar feelings that you have when you and your therapist are a good fit. Some clients describe it as feeling like their therapist “just gets me.” It doesn’t matter what I know, how many interventions I can think of, or what my experience has been if we are not a good fit. The therapeutic relationship is the most important part of therapy. It is essential that you feel comfortable and safe with your therapist because if you do not, you will not get out of it what you could. But when you are a good fit, it can literally be life changing!
6. What do you do outside the office?
In my free time I love to travel with my family, read, go to the beach, hang out with my friends, and find new restaurants with my husband. I am definitely a self-described foodie! I do volunteer work with my kids, as I believe it’s important to give back to our community. I also strive to practice what I preach by maintaining a balance between family, work, and my own self-care.
7. If you could leave me with one thing, what would it be?
Whatever you are feeling or thinking, there is a very high likelihood that others have felt and thought it too. Too often we feel like we are alone in our thoughts and feelings. We wrap ourselves in shame, feeling like there’s something wrong with us. There is nothing wrong with you! You are not crazy nor are you alone. Chances are great that if you’re feeling it, others have felt it too!