Innsæi: The Sea Within
Innsæi is an ancient Icelandic word for what we loosely call intuition, but it has many layers of meaning. Pronounced “ IN-sigh-ee,” it can mean “ to see within,” “ to see from the inside out,” and even “ the sea within.” All of these meanings describe the work I seek to do as a partner and guide helping my clients reconnect with the inner self, the boundless “ sea” that is within each of us, a constantly moving world of vision, feelings and imagination. And so I have chosen The Sea Within as the name for this site, to introduce myself and my work to you.
My practice philosophy focuses on assisting every client find balance, peace, and happiness as it is defined by you. When we live in balance, we are better equipped to handle the storms of life, which can include relationship issues, being stuck in the past, worrying about the future, or struggling with traumatic life experiences. I begin by working with the client to establish an honest and open relationship characterized by mutual trust and support. I believe in an integrative approach, which cultivates mindfulness, emotional resilience, and courage.
A lifestyle of nutritional health, movement, time spent in nature, and mindfulness-based practices has shaped me personally and professionally. These practices of mind, body, and spirit serve me daily, consistently guiding me back to the essence of who I am. As your partner and guide, I will help introduce you to practices that may serve you in a similar way.
As a mental health clinician, I am qualified to diagnose and treat mental health disorders. However, it is my belief that you have the power and the choice to define who you are. Therefore, a diagnostic label, while it may be helpful, is not the focus of what we will seek to do together. Together we will explore “the sea within” you and in the process achieve deep personal growth, resilience, and healing.
Many forces have shaped my personal and professional path. Growing up with a Southern-born mother of Northwestern European ancestry and a father of Mexican mestizo roots gave me a broad worldview. At an early age I was aware of different cultures and open to diversity. In the heartland of rural Oklahoma, in the Kiamichi Mountains, the Choctaw Nation, I developed the values and resilience that serve me so well today in the therapy and professional world — hard work, discipline, authenticity, and standing up for one’s principles. This early life experience helped set me on my path to becoming what I call a “ courageous leader.”
As a child, I was attuned to the emotional energy around me and deeply curious about people’s behavior and interactions. This curiosity inspired a lifelong desire to help others through authentic connections and to build community relations.
Education and Work Experience
I am a California Board Licensed Psychotherapist (LMFT 80917). I earned my undergraduate degree from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication and Leadership. I became a “Don” and received my Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology, with an emphasis on Family System Theory, at University of San Francisco.
Following graduate school, I began working for Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC), a community-mental health agency based in Mountain View, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley. CHAC is a non-profit agency that provides mental health services to children and youth from kindergarten through high-school. It also provides such services to the community at large. As an individual and family therapist at CHAC, I provided counseling to teens, young adults, adults and families from a harm-reduction lens – treating clients with trauma, anxiety, depression, substance misuse, self-harming behaviors, and attachment wounds and working with families as “systems.” Over 15 years working as a Program Director, Clinical Supervisor and as a provider in this setting has given me an invaluable perspective on resilience and the healing process.
As an educator and coach, I have had the pleasure to lead psychoeducational talks on mental health, substance abuse and leadership at various Bay area universities and colleges as well as speak to leaders and elected officials at the Challenge Team meetings in the cities of Mountain View, Los Altos and Sunnyvale. I’ve had the honor and privilege to be a panel expert on the MVLA PTA, Wellness Speaker Series, on the topics of the adolescent vaping epidemic, adolescent health and well-being and the parent relationship your teen needs. I also worked closely with our Santa Clara County school districts to aid in the mental health resource coordination of SPED students with co-occuring disorders.
At CHAC, I continue to provide Clinical Supervision and annual didactic trainings to Masters level graduate and PHD students who are pursuing their career tracks as MFTs, MSWs & PHDs.
- Adolescent and Young Adult Development
- Substance Mis-use and Co-occuring Disorders
- Mental Health and Family System Dynamics
- Meeting the Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) Needs of Students with School-based Mental Health Services
- The Mindful Clinician—Self Care & Recognizing Compassion Fatigue
- A Harm Reduction Approach to Working with Adolescents.
As a leadership instructor at Stanford University, I taught and co-created Courageous Leadership. Students learned that while everyone has the capacity for courage, not every aspiring leader understands how to harness their courage to enhance effective leadership and management. Courageous leadership requires a deep understanding of the unique paradoxical relationship between courage and fear as well as the connection between leaders and those they lead. With courage as a leadership tool, students learned to engender compassion for themselves and empathy for others to create cohesive leadership and team synergy. Students also gained greater emotional and social intelligence and awareness about their authentic self and the courage to apply appropriate leadership styles in different situations.
Today, I serve clients who live in California—working with individuals, families, couples, adolescents and young adults—helping them achieve balance and peace in everyday life.