My Own Prodigal Journey
My story begins on Detroit’s West Side. On the outside, my family may have looked like a solid, blue collar family. However, like many, it was “dysfunction junction” on the inside. Over the years, I would be introduced to all of the aspects of myself that had to deal with the alcoholism, emotional neglect, narcissism, gaslighting, emotional manipulation, domestic violence, sexual abuse, emasculation, and near constant bullying at school. The ways I would go on to cope with that chaotic upbringing included drinking, drugging, compulsive behaviors, anxiety and panic, depression, and a slew of bad choices.
I first reached out to a therapist at age 18. I had a sense that the anxiety, depression, compulsions, – all of it, were not normal and I wanted to feel better. Along my personal journey, I’ve had some amazing therapists and they were all instrumental and helpful, each during a particular time in my life.
In addition to therapy, I became involved in the ManKind Project (MKP). I found MKP to be invaluable at beginning to accept that I had value as a person, but most importantly, I was being accepted, unconditionally, within a group of men. This was a scary, yet exciting experience for me. In my background, men (or males in general) were perpetrators and difficult to trust. However in MKP, I discovered a community of men that helped me to trust again, even if for the first time.
Recently, I came across Internal Family Systems (IFS), a revolutionary therapy model designed by Dr. Dick Schwartz. IFS is a powerful and innovative way to approaching the psyche. There’s more specific information about IFS in the “What is IFS?” tab. I personally experienced freedom, FINALLY, from some nagging, persistent, and highly self-destructive behaviors despite years of dedicated and targeted therapy. My own experience mirrors the experience of my clients and thousands of others, IFS works. It’s weird, it’s funky, but it works. It will work for you too.
I look forward to getting to know you and walking with you on your own journey.
Master’s in Clinical Social Work (MSW) – Wayne State University
Master’s in Educational Leadership (MS) – Concordia University
Master’s in Teaching of Language (MATL) – University of Southern Mississippi
Bachelor’s in Education – Eastern Michigan University
My professional journey would first lead me into education, where I was a high school French teacher for 16 years. I loved teaching and even earned Wayne (Country) RESA High School Teacher of the Year in 2008.
My educational career would continue into administration, where I would serve as a K-8 school principal for a number of years, along with one year as assistant superintendent, in Detroit schools. All along that path, I was deeply saddened at the level of abuse, neglect, and violence that seemed to plague our kids. I was even more disheartened at the lack of systemic support for our most vulnerable.
I vividly remember sitting on the floor of my office one morning playing cars with Z, a kindergartner who had found himself in my office, yet again, for his violent outbursts in class. His stories were tremendously heartbreaking, especially from a 5 year old who had witnessed and experienced true horrors. Sitting on the floor of my office, I realized I couldn’t keep doing this. “This”, meaning an administrator with limited means to help this little one, and others like him. I was tasked to help children grow in a more academic sense, but there were kids who needed basic nurturing and reassurance that they were safe in their own skins before any real learning could happen. I understood that very well and I wanted to do more. I wanted to do something more that could help little ones, who grow up to be big ones with families, whose kids could be then affected by mom or dad’s untreated trauma.
I ended up pursuing and earning my Master in Social Work-Clinical (MSW), from Wayne State University. I then transitioned from administration to school social work, and also launched my private practice with the hope of healing men, women, and restoring families. This work continues that goal.