My Mission, Life Story & Professional Background
Hello. My name is Kathleen, and I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) working with children, teens and young adults in the Boulder, Colorado, area. My goal is to guide young people in discovering their ability to be authentic, embodied, and empathetic. I love what I do and feel grateful each day for the chance to inspire youth to be themselves and honor their truth. In connecting deeply with themselves, they can better advocate to be respected and valued by their communities.
I am an adventurer and healer. As a child I yearned for adventure and sought it through books. Even though I believed that one day I would travel the world and help others, at home I played small and felt incapable of being my true self.
Throughout my childhood I had a pretty extreme twitch. No matter how hard I tried to stop twitching, I just couldn’t control my body. I felt so much shame that I would shut down whenever asked about the twitch. I was so aware of my body and yet so disconnected from it. To top it off, I couldn’t spell to save my life. My elementary school teachers held me in during lunch to try to help, but it just never caught on. Growing up in a town of over-achievers, I felt like a sore thumb. I couldn’t stop twitching and I couldn’t spell. I felt like no matter how hard I tried I would fail.
All the while I immersed myself in story after story about people who overcame adversity, sought truth and justice, and had empathy for those they did not understand. Reading was my temporary escape from my own suffering. My second escape was nature. While climbing a tree or wandering through the woods, I would think to myself, “I feel normal here.”
In high school I joined the cross country team, which was a life-changing experience for me. Until this point, I believed that I was incapable of success despite my best efforts. When I started running races, I finally experienced outcomes that matched my hard work. Running was empowering and my team was inspiring. My connection with my body increased, and gradually I began to inhabit my body more fully.
From that point on, I chose to seek out challenges and opportunities that would further my personal development. The books I read while trying to avoid my pain—about truth, justice, and adversity—had given me the blueprint for evolution. But I needed to face my pain and engage with real-life challenges in order to evolve. It wasn’t easy, but with each new challenge I grew stronger. With each new relationship I became more authentic. With each new journey I became more empowered and, correspondingly, my twitch lessened. I still can’t spell, but I’ve never wanted to win a spelling bee anyway.
When we overcome adversity, our struggles become our gifts, our confidence abounds, and we deepen our ability to know our own magnificence. The confidence and skills I needed to overcome my challenges and thrive were inside me the whole time—but I needed permission to be myself in order to access them. It’s that permission that I want to inspire in young people through therapy.
I love to get to know new people and learn about the experiences that have shaped their lives. If you’re still curious about me, here are a few of the experiences that have helped to shape the life I live today.
I was raised in New Jersey and am the oldest sibling, with three younger brothers. Being part of a busy household taught me to make peace with chaos.
When I ran on the the cross-country team in high school, my body felt strong and my spirit felt alive. To this day, I cry when I see a running race because I’m inspired by the transformative power of running and the human spirit.
For most of my childhood, I wanted to be an English teacher. I thought that literature was the greatest tool to teach others about themselves. I later realized that therapy and wilderness adventure were better suited for my goals.
I worked and lived at the Great Hollow Wilderness School, a remarkable community dedicated to empowering young people. As a racially diverse staff that reflected our diverse student body, we grappled with issues of privilege and oppression. It was a powerful experience for both staff and students.
At Great Hollow, we held a month-long camp for children diagnosed with ADHD. Each summer I led a group of kids, which was the most challenging work I have ever done. Leading these groups taught me that one of the greatest things you can do for a child is to believe in them.
I solo hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. I spent six months walking through harsh and majestic mountains and deserts. Each challenge that I faced peeled back another layer of weakness to reveal my strength.
I worked for WinGate Wilderness Therapy, a program that gave me the language and lens to explain the importance of authenticity and relationship, still central to my worldview today. Before I finished my first year at this program, I was in a blizzard that left me injured. From that I learned that putting other's safety and comfort above my own does not serve anyone, and can cause more harm than good.
I love moving my body, especially outdoors. Hiking, biking, and yoga are sprinkled throughout my days. At the same time, finding stillness on a mountaintop, watching the sunset, and sleeping in the forest equally nourish my soul.
I received my master’s degree in clinical social work at the Smith College School for Social Work, a renowned program within the field and a stronghold of psychodynamic thought.
I received my bachelor’s degree in English and American studies at Wesleyan University.
I am trained in EMDR, modern psychoanalysis, psychodynamic theory, play therapy, attachment theory, group therapy, and DBT.
I have advanced training in play therapy and am a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) through the Association for Play Therapy. I completed a two-year training program and earned a Certificate in Synergetic Play Therapy from the Play Therapy Institute in Boulder.
I earned a post-graduate certificate in Adoptive and Foster Family Therapy from Portland State University. My culminating project focused on trans youth in foster care and included a presentation to a group of foster parents.
I held a clinical fellowship at the Wardenburg Health Center at CU Boulder. I provided psychotherapy to young adults and received intensive training on individual and group therapy. I also participated on the trauma treatment team.
My clinical training and studies focused heavily on trauma and abuse. I completed an internship at Blue Sky Bridge in Boulder where I provided crisis counseling to caregivers. This experience is foundational both to my work with parents today and to my understanding of trauma.
My studies and work with the queer and trans population include: writing my master's thesis on queer and trans adults who were sexually abused as children; volunteering at the Ali Forney Center in NYC (a remarkable shelter serving LGBTQ youth); and, facilitating coming out and transgender support groups.
I’m named as an adoption-competent provider by the Colorado Adoption Exchange
I’m the past secretary of the Boulder Interdisciplinary Committee (BIDC), a non-profit that educates professionals on the intersection of family law and mental health issues.
I belong to the following groups: Boulder’s Blue Sky Bridge Therapist Guild, the Synergetic play Therapy Institute, and the Association for Play Therapy.
“You have been told that, even like a chain, you are as weak as your weakest link.
This is but half the truth.
You are also as strong as your strongest link.
To measure you by your smallest deed is to reckon the power of the ocean
by the frailty of its foam.
To judge you by your failures is to cast blame upon the seasons for their inconstancy.”