I am a licensed couples’ counselor and nationally certified sex therapist. I work in private practice in Seattle, WA. Over the course of my therapy career, I have focused almost exclusively on helping couples with their emotional and sexual intimacy.
In my years of clinical experience, I have treated hundreds of couples who have struggled to feel sexual desire and fulfillment. My clients describe having a good relationship in other ways, but their sex life has become difficult to the point that they start to avoid sex. These are people who love each other but are struggling to have a sex life they both enjoy.
I specialize in helping these couples who find that sex has become stressful, negative, disappointing, or pressured. I educate, coach, and support people as they go through my 9-phase experiential process that allows them real world practice in changing their relationship and their sex life.
I received my Master’s in Psychology from LIOS college of Saybrook University and Sex Therapist certification from the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). I have done extensive training in couples’ therapy, with a focus on Crucible® Therapy with Dr. David Schnarch.
I am the author of “Sex without stress; a couple’s guide to overcoming disappointment, avoidance, and pressure.” I am the host of the Better Sex Podcast and have appeared on numerous other podcasts as an expert guest. I am a regular contributor in the media as a sex and relationship expert, including Mind Body Green, Marriage.com, Refinery29, and Business Insider.
I live in Seattle with my partner and youngest child of three.
My Values & Beliefs
I believe that sex is important.
Sex is important. When people are happy with their sex life, it feels like it makes up about 20% of their relationship satisfaction. But when people are unhappy with their sex life, its importance seems to jump to about 70% of their entire relationship satisfaction. When a couple struggles with sex, it can become a big issue and take a significant toll on happiness for the people involved. Our sexuality is a birthright. Expressing it can be an experience of pleasure, connection, playfulness, creativity and love. It taps into a life force that is powerful and healing. Being cut off from our sexuality or being unable to express it, alone or with others, separates us from a part of ourselves that matters.
There is no better way to grow as a person that doing the work it takes to be successful in relationship.
We can do a lot of personal work, but it isn’t put to the test until we’re trying to navigate and negotiate a relationship with someone that matters to us. Our partnership is where we are tested and challenged to grow and mature. Our intimate relationship is our opportunity to learn about ourselves and to transform how we act and react in order to be better people.
I am sex positive and LGBTQ affirming.
I am sex positive and LGBTQ welcoming, which means that I respect all sexual orientations, relationships and behaviors that are consensual and non-exploitative.
I believe that respect can involve challenge.
While people should confront themselves first, there is also room to respectfully confront each other. This shows we believe someone can do better; we’re speaking the best part of them that could respond and step up. If we avoid challenge and directness, we effectively treat someone as if they aren’t competent to hear us and receive our feedback.
I hold you capable, believing that your strengths are up to the challenge of addressing your relationship problems. It would be a disservice to you for me to water down therapy. I invite the best parts of you to come forward. I expect you to grow in your ability to honestly look at your darker motivations and to confront yourself about them. Only the best part of us can talk about the worst parts; the worst parts will always pretend they are not there.
I hold a tremendous amount of compassion for you and your struggles, and I have an ability to put you at ease in session. I value being kind, approachable and yet direct at the same time, providing honest feedback delivered with goodwill. When working with couples, I am good at developing rapport and understanding with each of you. My comfort and ease in talking about relationship struggles and sexual issues makes it easier for you to share intimately so that you can get the most from therapy.
Challenge is a fundamental part of therapy, and the ability to challenge productively comes from the respect and warmth that I bring to my role. It is out of my respect for you and my concern for your happiness and well-being that I challenge you to think differently about your situation, to act differently within your relationships or to see the dynamics in a different light. I believe that you come to therapy to achieve change of some sort; I want to challenge you to take action toward confronting yourself, holding yourself accountable and showing up in your life in the best possible way.
What do we need to know?
You have a lot of choices when you are searching for a therapist. Finding a good fit is important. While you want to make sure that any therapist is licensed in the state and is qualified to help you, you’ll also want to consider their vision of relationship health and their approach to working with clients. If you still have any questions after reading through my website, I would be happy to answer them!
1. Do you specialize in working with couples?
Yes, I specialize in couples therapy. Unlike many therapists who do “a little of everything,” my practice is almost exclusively devoted to working with couples, especially regarding issues of sexuality and intimacy.
I have pursued extensive training, completing an intensive externship in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy as well as several multi-day clinical workshops in Crucible Therapy with David Schnarch and Ruth Morehouse.
Because I am also an AASECT certified sex therapist, I can integrate sex therapy and couples therapy creating an holistic approach to intimacy issues.
2. I see you are AASECT certified. Why is that important?
Certification is important because it signifies a significant amount of training, supervision and experience dealing with sexual issues.
AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists) requires over 160 hours of rigorous curriculum, 50 hours of supervision and hundreds of hours of clinical experience in order to grant certification.
While Washington state does not regulate the term “sex therapist,” certification distinguishes a therapist who has made the commitment to be fully qualified to provide sex therapy.
3. What kind of people get the most out of choosing you as a therapist?
The people that I help the most come to me knowing that they cannot keep doing things the same way anymore.
They are open to self-reflection, they have an ability to confront themselves and to be honest about what they are doing, and they have a real desire for growth and integrity in their lives.
They focus on their own contribution to their issues and resist the urge to blame others.
They value honest feedback and directness delivered with good will.
They are ready to make the commitment of time and resources that change requires, and they are determined to make the most out of that investment by being committed to and engaged in the process and expecting me to bring my best to every session.
4. If you are working with a couple, do you ever see the people individually?
As a rule, I do not work individually with clients if they see me for couples therapy. This policy maintains a balanced relationship with both people. It also serves to prevent me from having any information that has not been shared with the absent partner.
5. How long does therapy last?
So much depends on exactly what situation a client faces and how much they want to accomplish at this time. While some people come in for a very particular question or decision (resulting in very brief therapy), others come in determined to shift many longstanding issues (which can mean remaining in therapy for a year or more). Most of the time, however, I work with clients for somewhere between 3 and 6 months to accomplish their goals.