Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
I like seeing people get better. People often come to me knowing that something is wrong, but not knowing exactly what. I love helping people get to that point where they can say, “yes, things are better.” They can go to school again, do the things they love, or feel confident in doing something they’re interested in. Not only that, their relationships get better, they are able to feel closer to people, and they can take chances that they couldn’t take before.
I love that there are all different ways to be strong, all different ways to live life. Many people come to me having been hurt deeply; they want to learn how to keep their sensitivity and their gentleness but still feel strong and in control of their life. One of my greatest joys as a counselor is constantly learning about different ways people can learn to thrive.
We all tell a story about ourselves – how we came to be who we are, our strengths, and our challenges. Most people never really examine that story. Part of our work together is genuinely asking the question of “What story am I really telling about myself?” And asking the follow up questions of, “Does this story really let me be my best self? Where did this story come from – who started to tell it to me?” It’s also important to notice and honor the tools that we used to get through difficult times in the past. Sometimes coping with a crisis means pulling from whatever we have at the bottom of the toolbox. Counseling is then taking a step back and asking, “Is coping this way still serving me? I’ve grown and changed so much – maybe it’s time to try out a new tool or a new path?”
A particular interest in my practice is working with people who are exploring gender and sexuality. We are raised to think that this “default” is the norm – in reality there is this whole rainbow out there but we are only taught to see two colors. It’s already hard to explore gender and sexuality; if you are someone who has experienced sexual assault or trauma, the idea of being able to someday be touched and have a sexually fulfilling relationship can seem impossible. Finding a safe space to explore who you are can be critical.
It’s my job to make sure you feel safe and understood, no matter what you choose to tell me that day. I’m a little geeky, a little nerdy, and I like to laugh. My hope is that you would experience therapy as a gentle place where you can feel heard.
I have lived my entire life in the Pacific Northwest. I began my academic career at Western Washington University, with a degree in Psychology. I then attended the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Pacific Lutheran University, where I graduated with my Master’s Degree.
For the past several years I have worked as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in both community mental health and in private practice settings. I have three years of experience working with felony-level sexual abuse cases through the Child Advocacy Program, and am knowledgeable of the many harmful effects that can occur post-abuse. I have been trained by the Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress Center at Harborview and the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs to work with survivors of abuse, incest, and assault. In addition, I have considerable training and experience in assisting individuals explore sexuality and gender identity. In my work, I use a consent-based model and I believe strongly in a collaborative team-based approach for care.
I am trained in evidence-based practices such as Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Emotionally-Focused Therapy, and Common Elements Treatment Approach. I am committed to staying up-to-date on the most current techniques in the field. I am passionate about social justice and diversity, particularly how our contexts may inform our world view.
Gemma offers individual counseling (not couples). She sees teens (age 13+) and adults.
Important: If this is a crisis or you need immediate support, please call the Crisis Clinic at (206) 461-3222 or go to your nearest emergency room. Catalyst Counseling cannot provide emergency services.