I help people move beyond loss, couples restore their connection and individuals reclaim their lives…
- I help people discover and complete what was left unfinished by a significant loss, without burying grief or distracting themselves.
- I help couples resolve conflict, improve communication, and restore their connection with each other.
- I help individuals reclaim control over aspects of their lives that have been dominated by negativity and adversity, helping them see they are so much greater than their problems.
For fifty years of my life I dealt with adversity and loss by trying to “be strong for others.” I strove to leave painful feelings behind me by deflecting them with humor, rationalism, and keeping busy. These and other coping strategies fell apart when, on February 14th, 2008, my daughter Gayle was one of five students killed by a suicidal gunman at Northern Illinois University.
This loss left me with unbearable sadness and pain. It brought me face-to-face with the fact that I had never dealt completely with any of the pain in my life; I had only learned to sweep it under the rug, to bury it. Now, there was no more room under the rug.
I needed to find answers on how one moves on after such a loss, and fortunately I did. What I discovered, though, is that often times people bear the burden of their grief for many years. Some would like to experience fond memories without them turning painful. Others want their lives to be a legacy of love to the one they lost, rather than a monument to pain. They simply need someone to show them how. This led me to getting the training I need to help others recover from loss. I felt this was one way I could honor my daughter’s life.
Writing Cartwheels in the Rain: Finding Faith in the Wake of the Unthinkable was my first effort to give hope to people after their loss. It also serves to keep Gayle’s memory alive, while introducing her to people who have never met her.
Wanting to do more to help people beyond grief, I returned to school to learn about relationships and mental health. I acquired my master’s degree, which prepared me to help individuals, families and couples with mental health issues from a relational perspective. I then specialized further by concentrating on learning what makes a marriage satisfying and why some relationships fail. What I learned along the way was validated by the way it strengthened my own marriage, now in its 37th year.
To further help others affected by loss, my mission is to foster the understanding of grief as the normal and natural response to all kinds of losses, experienced uniquely by each person, and to promote the concept that moving beyond grief and pain is both desirable and possible.
Training, Certification, and Accomplishments
Below are some of my credentials, training I have received, and accomplishments that might be relevant to you:
- Master’s Degree in Applied Family & Child Studies, with specialization in Marriage & Family Therapy (NIU, 2012)
- Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT in Illinois, #166.001127)
- Grief Recovery Specialist certified by the Grief Recovery Institute, Bend, Oregon
- Marriage & Family Therapy, giving me a holistic, inter- and intra-psychic, and systemic understanding of relationships and mental health
- Grief Recovery Method, which provides a means for completing what is left unfinished emotionally by death, divorce, and other losses
- Gottman Level I: Bridging the Couples Chasm (acquainted me with the best research into what satisfied couples do well versus what dissatisfied couples do not)
- Collaborative Couples therapy intensive with Dr. Dan Wile
- PET-C (Pragmatic-Experiential Therapy for Couples) (studied under Dr. Brent Atkinson, developer of this approach)
- 16-week online certificate and 4-day intensive courses in Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (this validated what I have learned from the clients I have helped most in therapy about what is useful in treatment)
- Training in Disaster Case Management, sponsored by Catholic Charities
- Author of Cartwheels in the Rain: Finding Faith in the Wake of the Unthinkable, (c) 2010, DPI: Nashville
- Conducting Grief Recovery Method Support Groups and one-on-one programs since 2009
- Appearances on Dateline NBC: Columbine – The Road Home; WindyCity Live (ABC-Channel 7, Chicago) related to the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, and others.