I am a social worker, figure skating coach, and yoga instructor. While at first glance these worlds seem unrelated, my personal and professional experiences have led me to integrate them in unique ways in order to offer holistic mind-body-spirit services to individuals and communities.
As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) serving diverse populations in a variety of settings, I learned from my clients about the need for alternative and holistic approaches to social work treatment as a compliment to traditional clinical social work interventions and evidence-based practices. Survivors of sexual and domestic violence responded well to trauma-informed psychotherapy but expressed a need to “learn how to breathe” and to “use [their] body” in a healthy way. I listened. I received my yoga teacher certification and began to integrate yoga into social work practice. As a clinician, educator, and researcher, I advocate for the exploration and advancement of integrative services.
Just as I found the integration of yoga in social work appropriate for clients, I realized the incredible benefits that yoga has in self-care practices for social work professionals. Burn-out and vicarious trauma are real and serious concerns in the helping profession. My own experience with these factors encouraged me to dedicate time and energy to developing a yoga practice specific to creating a sustainable, healthy, and effective social work profession. Today, I spread the word about the positive – and often necessary – impact yoga has on supporting professional development.
Yoga seeped into my figure skating world, as well. Having been a competitive figure skater throughout my life and continuing to figure skate as an adult, I am well-versed in the demands placed upon athletes. I learned early on about the need to create balance between athletic, academic, personal, and professional lives. Yoga became an essential element of my off-ice, cross-training routine. Asanas (postures), pranayama (breathwork), and meditation help to develop strength, flexibility, injury-prevention, calm and focus – essential elements of an athlete’s life. Now, I work with teams, individuals, and coaches to develop a yoga practice that meets athletes’ needs.
Whether an athlete is working with me on the ice in figure skating lessons or on the yoga mat as part of a cross-training routine, my clinical social work skills often come into play. In these moments I am not a student’s therapist or counselor, yet my ability to use strengths-based and empowerment perspectives that stem from clinical social work informs my holistic guidance and is a unique aspect of my coaching and teaching style.
I balance multiple professional worlds, offering individuals and communities integrative services in a variety of settings. My education, experiences and interests combine to create effective opportunities for clients and students to heal, grow, and thrive.