It is an interesting moment when life pushes you to the edge and suddenly you find yourself looking at the profiles of therapists online, isn’t it? How is your search going so far? I’m already curious about what it is that has brought you to this moment. Perhaps you have known for some time now that you needed therapy but were afraid of what you might discover. Perhaps you are stuck in a classic pattern where you start therapy, stop after a few weeks, then start from the beginning again. Perhaps you find yourself wondering for the first time if you really need therapy. Still, here you are, reading my profile, figuring out if I am the person you are going to talk to about the very most personal thoughts and experiences that you have ever had. Fair enough, let me break down who I am and what sessions are like with me.
Who I Am
Fun: I practice wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, and other combat sports. I collect Pokémon cards and my walls are littered with them. I play guitar (poorly) in a pop punk band for fun. I have tried my hand at standup comedy, but I’m sticking to the mental health field.
Professional: I have a Bachelor of Science from Minnesota State University – Mankato, and an MSW from Saint Catherine University where I graduated with a 4.0 and honors from The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi acknowledging the top 7% of national graduates. I hold an LICSW, I am a Certified Trauma Professional, and I am certified in EMDR through the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA). I am certified in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (C-DBT) I am a Certified Personality Disorder Treatment Specialist (C-PD) where my focus is Cluster B personality disorders (Anti-Social Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder) and trauma disorders like PTSD. I also have experience treating varying forms of Anxiety, Depression, Conduct Disorders, Bipolar Disorders, ADHD, and other emotionally or behaviorally dysregulating conditions. I have 7 years of experience working in the criminal justice system and corrections-based treatment centers where I was a part of a multidisciplinary team treating and providing services to clients adjudicated of high-level felony offenses often in relation to psychiatric conditions. I have experience as a dispositional advisor for the Minnesota Board of Public Defense where I assisted in the defense of clients through research and providing courts with client’s historical backgrounds and psychiatric information as well as state sentencing guidelines. If there is anything I have learned from these experiences, it is that people are not defined by the worst decisions that they have ever made, nor are they defined by the worst things that someone else has done to them. Everyone can grow. Everyone can change their mindset and their behavior. Everyone can heal. I have seen it with my own eyes.
Sessions With Alex
The big complaint that I get from clients when they start with me is “When I saw my last therapist it felt like we were not doing anything. I didn’t learn anything, and they mostly just asked me what I thought I should do.” I am not the ‘how do you feel about that?’ kind of therapist. Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to ask that question, but it is not all that I do. Here is reality: You have a problem, you don’t feel ‘good,’ and you are coming to me for help. I am not the therapist as seen on TV or in the movies. I am the therapist who is a real person in real life that talks to you like a real person in real life. You have questions, I have answers. There will likely be very few long and silent pauses (unless it makes sense to do so) I try to read at least 3 scholarly articles per week. I am always researching. I provide psychoeducation to nearly all my clients. Why? Because you need to know. In my experience, clients want to talk about what is going on with them and they have often wanted to be educated. “Why do I act like this? Why do I feel like this?” Clients ask these questions all the time. I can educate you on psychological theory, I can help you observe that theory through the scope of your life and explore the parts of yourself that matter to you.
A client’s next question is often “What can I do about it?” Every emotion you have is valid and worth feeling. You deserve to feel those emotions, and once you have done that, we can’t just sit and talk about it anymore can we? Like you said, you want to know what you can do about it because you want to not just understand, but to get better. I provide real, actionable, practical skills for you to start making changes in your life. I provide cognitive skills, behavioral skills, emotional regulation skills, biofeedback regulation and state alteration skills, interpersonal regulation skills and more. I give clients tasks to practice in their everyday lives. When I first started as a clinician, professors told me that clients did not want homework. As it turns out, many do. It’s not for everyone and isn’t required, but many clients want to feel like there is someone holding them accountable for the work that they are doing in therapy and the work that they do outside of therapy so they can stop asking themselves if they really need therapy at all. My hope is that you walk out of sessions with new information, and new things to try.
A session with me will feel different from the average clinical experience because it will feel safe and professional but informal and not at all stuffy. Expect that you may laugh (because it is okay to do in therapy), you may cry (because it is okay to do in therapy), and you may interact with anger, sadness, and self-doubt (because it is okay to do in therapy!). My favorite and most frequent comment from clients has been “This is so different from what people told me therapy would be like.” I am different, but I will let you decide for yourself.
What You Need
I believe that to heal from trauma, create emotional and behavioral change, or overcome anxiety and depression, we must interact with every part of ourselves and that interacting with every part of ourselves isn’t always an easy thing. Some of those parts are very dark indeed. Some of those parts are even embarrassing and shameful. Sometimes the dialogue that we have with ourselves is unpleasant or painful. Sometimes there are pieces of ourselves that are easier to ignore altogether. I don’t want you to live alone with those pieces in your head. I don’t ignore these parts. It is okay to engage with them. You might not be ready to approach those pieces yet, but in time, you will be able to approach them. When you are ready, I encourage you to do so and hope that by that time you will understand that you will not be alone as you do so. Therapy does not mean that you will walk out of every session feeling “better” or “good.” Therapy is a very personal experience, and it can be new, uncharted, and vulnerable. A time may come when things are hard and I hope to prepare you for it because when it does, you may have to work harder than you already are. Sometimes this is the reality of a person’s situation. Remember, I’m on your team. When the time comes, I want to be there with you.
Please feel invited to see me in session! I look forward to meeting you.