I was born in Texas but moved across the globe to the Philippines when I was a baby. My parents were career missionaries there, so I grew up attending the multiple churches that my parents started. We initially lived far enough from the city that I was homeschooled and mostly spent my time alone. In middle school and high school, we moved to Manila and went to an international school with other missionary kids. A couple of traumatic experiences combined with my skewed understanding of religion created an inner world of anxiety and depression. If I had to pick three words to describe my childhood, they would be loneliness, fear, and church.
When I graduated high school, I moved to the States on my own and started a new life. I met my partner in college and we moved to the Dallas area to seek our fortunes. I worked and volunteered at churches in the Bible belt for almost 10 years but didn’t feel fulfilled. When I finally started my master’s in counseling, I realized two things. The first was that I loved psychology and I needed to get past my insecurities in order to pursue my dream, and the second was that I had a lot of work to do unpacking my trauma, my spirituality, and the complicated overlap between them.
After a very hard but very necessary period of learning, talking, and listening to my body, I started my career as a trauma therapist. I’ve worked in domestic violence shelters, hospitals, jails, courthouses, and private practices doing crisis intervention and counseling. I met Josh, my co-founder and best friend, while working at a crisis hotline. It was there that I was introduced to the unexpected power of empathy, particularly when used with intentionality. It blew my mind and quickly became the most important tool that I have as a therapist and as a human.
Empathy has transformed the way I work with my clients but it has also transformed the way that I understand myself. Every year that I continue to grow and heal, I have uncovered new parts of myself that had been hidden, deepening my self-love and expanding my capacity to love and care for others.
In 2020, Josh and I decided to start a consulting company that specifically focused on the empathetic worldview that we call The Empathy Paradigm. I currently work as a full-time therapist, specializing in religious trauma at Dallas Therapy Collective. Consulting with the Empathy Paradigm has given me the opportunity to take the intentional empathy that has changed my life and offer it to others.