in Asheville and Sylva
Couples and Relationship Therapy
Most struggles we experience in life can be stripped down to the quality of our bonds with others. When our most important relationships are feeling strained, tense, or disconnected, it can lead to stress, pain, and ultimately a decline in our mental wellbeing. Communicating our needs and concerns can be extremely hard and when we feel misunderstood and hurt we can get stuck in a repetitive cycle of interactions that aren't productive and leave us feeling very alone. Addiction and affair recovery, cohabitation transitions, the decision to become parents, pre-marital therapy, parenting stress and blending families, retirement transitions, and sexual intimacy challenges are some of the areas I have supported couples in navigating. We begin with an in-depth assessment process to ensure we are targeting the areas that need support. Then we engage in experiential and interactive work that is structured to enhance connection and skills in how to relate to one another more effectively.
Trauma Treatment and Attachment Healing
When we experience a traumatic event or ongoing exposure to trauma, we do our best to survive and get through it. A sense of resiliency can emerge as we move forward in our life, however what we experienced always seems in the background or creeps into our view of ourselves, others, and the world getting in our way of happiness and fulfillment. When we experience a cut on our arm our body knows how to heal itself. Similarly, our brain also knows how to heal and downgrade the emotional intensity of these memories to lessen their sting and activation of our stress response in our daily lives. However, out of self-preservation, we tend to get in our brain's way of it's natural healing process by blocking and avoiding this processing. Individual treatment starts with building your control over emotional regulation and developing skills to create feelings of security prior to processing and reorganizing these memories while using bilateral stimulation to soothe and support the brain's healing. Clients are empowered to set the pace and depth of the work they would benefit from.
As parents we can feel constant pressure around us and within ourselves to "get it right." Am I teaching them to be responsible enough through firm structure? Are they going to blame me when they age for all their problems? How do I balance my own needs and theirs so that I can be responsive in the way they need and not feel like I am losing my own sense of self? Maybe you've tried all the conventional parenting approaches and nothing seems to work and you can't catch a break from the frustration of their behavior and exhaustion of dealing with it. Utilizing Collaborative Problem Solving strategies caregivers can learn how to see improvements in their child's behavior while maintaining or developing a strong relationship and helping their child advance their skills in flexibility, problem solving, and frustration tolerance.
Sierra has been providing licensure supervision for LCMHCAs since 2017. Her supervisees work in community and private practice settings and support a variety of populations including children, adolescents, young adults, adults, couples and families. Sierra is passionate about utilizing evidenced based approaches and supporting her supervisees with fidelity in the models they use, building their expertise and niche, as well as developing sustainable practice through self-care, reflective practice, and a variety of clinical outlets and tools. Sierra is currently at capacity for supervision and is anticipating openings in the Fall.
This research backed approach focuses on the emotions the couple brings into a session and on dysfunctional negative interaction patterns (escalation or emotional disengagement) in order to make conflict discussions more functional, constructive, and regulated. It also focuses on emotional repair, and on building safety, trust, bonding, love, intimacy, friendship, and positive affect. Couples begin by completing an online assessment tool that scores a relationship's strengths and challenges and provides a blueprint for which interventions will be most effective in therapy. This approach was developed by world renowned John and Julie Gottman and is based off of Dr. John Gottman's research over 40 years of studying the characteristics of relationships and what makes them succeed or fail.
Emotionally Focused Therapy
EFT is based in attachment science. Experiential interventions are utilized to deepen and clarify emotions to establish and recreate supportive bonds between partners. Together we will identify the negative conflict cycle, or choreographed dance, that has created relational disconnection and restructure and organize interactions that promote healing and secure bonding.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
EMDR changes maladaptive neural networks by connecting traumatic memories with new information. The information is then blended with positive (adaptive) beliefs (thoughts and emotions). This awareness and the repaired linkages to the positive network then allows frozen sensations and beliefs to resolve.
Collaborative Problem Solving
I am a certified practitioner, coach, and trainer in CPS. This evidenced based approach developed at Massachusetts General Hospital is a big shift when it comes to understanding your child's challenging behavior and what to do about it. CPS is proven to reduce challenging behaviors, increase compliance, improve family relationships, and help your child build the skills they lack. Caregivers will learn how to partner with their child to identify the triggers for their behaviors and work together to produce a game plan for how to handle problems before they happen. This model can be provided through individual parent coaching or in a group format that includes 8 weeks of classes.
There were several life experiences that led me towards the path of therapy. I am naturally drawn to this work based on my character and how I show up in relationships. I have always had a curious mind and intense empathy for others in pain. Patient listening, stepping into vulnerability, and challenging other's perspectives with care and warmth are areas that I have nurtured and strengthened over the years. Growing up in a divorced household and seeing the impact that relationship disconnection and misunderstanding had on my own parents inspires me to support couples. In college, I studied theatre, in addition to psychology, and became interested in the power of the between. The influence and systemic interaction of how we as humans can trigger, regulate, and heal together fascinates me and I love seeing changes occur before our eyes in session as we process and communicate our needs, fears, and longings more effectively to the most important people in our lives.
I received Bachelors degrees in psychology and theatre from the University of Iowa in 2004 and Masters of Education and a Specialist in Education degrees from the University of Florida in 2008. I was fully licensed as an LCMHC in NC in 2011 and received approved supervisor status from the NC Board in 2017. I have worked in community mental health and private practice settings supporting individuals, couples, and families.
I am most at peace surrounded by nature and live with the mountains and a beautiful lake that grounds me daily. My husband and I have been together since 2001 and have 11 yo and 9 yo sons and 2 adorable yorkie pups. I enjoy hiking, playing pickle ball, reading, traveling, singing and dancing.
Trainings and Certifications
Gottman Levels 1-3
Treating Affairs and Trauma
Couples and Addiction Recovery
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work- Leader Training
Emotionally Focused Therapy Externship
Emotionally Focused Core Skills 1- 4
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Basic Intensive: Integrating EMDR into Clinical Practice
Certified Collaborative Problem Solving Practitioner and Trainer
All are Welcome
This is a safe and inclusive place for all sexual and gender identities, racial identities and ethnicities, neurodiverse individuals, monogamous and polyamorous relationship structures, and ages across the adult lifespan.
At Wellness through Connections, we strive to create a safe and secure environment for couples to heal and grow. We understand the unique needs of couples and we focus on strengthening communication, deepening understanding and enhancing intimacy in relationships. We are committed to creating an atmosphere of trust, acceptance and understanding. Our goal is to provide couples with the tools they need to build strong, healthy and lasting relationships. We invite you to join us on this journey of self-discovery and growth.
The psychotherapist's job is to provide the conditions in which self-healing can best take place.