Graduate Intern

alisonwPhilosophy and Values

I have always been drawn to the taboo – the places within us that culture forbids. Taboo does not mean bad, wrong, or dangerous; the original word, tapu, is Tongan and means “sacred.” As a therapist, I believe the taboo aspects of the self are sacred and valuable.

Many things are considered taboo in American culture: pleasure, pain, trauma, intense emotion, sexuality….These are vital aspects of human experience, yet many of us have been told to hide these parts of ourselves. It can be therapeutic to reintegrate memories, perspectives, and desires that have been shamed and labeled taboo. The aspects of the self that get relegated to the dustbin hold important narratives and needs.

The taboo parts of us are often the most vulnerable parts. My commitment in the therapeutic relationship is to welcome and value all aspects of a clients’ experience – the stories that reflect strength and resilience, and the narratives that have been shamed or dismissed.
Dance/Movement Therapy is a large influence in my work, because it includes the body in the process of healing. The body expresses emotion and behavior through movement, so exploring our movement patterns can help us make the changes we desire in our emotional and behavioral patterns. Dance/Movement Therapy does not require clients to have any background in dance; I focus on simple, spontaneous movement generated by the client, not on choreography or performance. By using movement and attention to sensation, I support clients to express and regulate emotion, bring attention to the present, heal trauma, experience pleasure, and begin to trust the body as a vessel that carries all the aspects of the self.

Training and Experience

I have a BFA in Acting from the University of Cincinnati and I am a professional actor and playwright. Before moving to Chicago I taught acting at the University of Cincinnati for four years. I completed an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College, through which I researched the psychological issues unique to actors and developed exercises that support actors' mental health. I am currently pursuing a second masters in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling at Columbia College Chicago.

The first part of my clinical training was at Harborview Recovery Center, where I did psychotherapy and dance/movement therapy with patients recovering from alcohol and substance addictions. In past years, I have worked at the Cincinnati VA with veterans, and at the organizations Caracole and Off the Streets with women who were recovering from experiences of sex trafficking. I also have ten years of training and Level 3 certification to teach Alba Method, which is a method of entering six basic emotions through specific muscular, facial, and breath patterns. Neuroscientist Susanna Bloch developed Alba Method; it has been used in actor training and in therapeutic settings to help clients explore and regulate emotion.


I see therapy as a creative collaboration between the client and myself. Clients are the experts of their own experiences, and I listen with empathy and curiosity to understand the ways I can support the client. The foundation of my approach is multicultural, feminist, psychodynamic, and body-based. I engage the client’s creativity as a resource toward healing. Although we may engage with serious topics in therapy, I believe that many doorways to healing include laughter, play, imagination, and delight.

It is a goal of mine to assist clients in translating discoveries made in therapy into the tangible changes the clients desire. Part of a session often involves making plans for how the client can apply what we explore in therapy to the outside world.

I am dedicated to respecting clients’ needs, boundaries, and the unique timing of each person’s therapeutic process.

Range of Focus

Dance/Movement Therapy
Trauma-informed practice
Affirmative LGBTQ Practice
Pleasure-positive perspective
Sex and Sexuality
Mood and Anxiety
Emotional Expression and Regulation

Degrees and Certifications

M.A. Candidate in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling, Columbia College Chicago, expected graduation May 2018

M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts, Goddard College, 2016

Certified Alba Method Teacher, Level 3, 2016

B.F.A. in Acting, Summa Cum-Laude, University of Cincinnati, 2009

200hr RYT Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher, It’s Yoga, Cincinnati, OH, 2009

Contact Information
Contact image

1300 W. Belmont Ave. Suite 400




This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

773.880.1310 ext. 7627