“Why do you love reality TV?” and other FAQs
Who are you?
I’m Dr. Jen, a recovering anxiously attached person who went from a small-town country girl with low self-esteem to a tree-hugging psychotherapist.
I listened to my first self-help cassette tape when I was 13 years old, and the rest is history!
I was four years into my almost 20-year therapy career when I had a massive shift (read: “breakdown”) and questioned everything I knew about my marriage, budding career, friendships, and my life. It was only then that I started to understand what made people tick (yeah, that’s *while* I was already a practicing therapist).
What is this place?
Here is where you learn to fill your emotional bank account with simple tools that guide you toward the pinnacle of life's happiness. Yeah yeah, we’re all trying to get there. But, I’ve learned that it’s actually pretty simple, and there aren’t secret formulas or complicated steps.
I created a career built on evidence-based and holistic tools to help people learn about their relationship attachment style, their unique personality traits, what makes them thrive, and how to create an environment in their minds and around them that helps them be their best future self (BFS). I help people move from anxious or avoidant relationship styles into a safe, secure relationship with themselves, and others.
Why should I care?
When you think about it, humans have survived because of their tribes. We're social animals that require interdependence on other healthy, safe, strong people.
Nourishing, secure, safe relationships are required for humans to thrive and live well. Now that we’re past the “Holy crap, I’m being chased by saber-toothed tigers” phase, we know that those people-connections are the foundation of optimal mental health.
Humans have an innate desire to feel like they belong. At one end of the love spectrum is unconditional acceptance and positive regard, and on the other end, the feeling of being rejected.
Human connections are vital, and we are constantly in a phase of give-and-take with everyone we come in contact with. However, you can only give to others from your overflow. When you don’t have an overflow (i.e., a full emotional bank account), you’re barely able to give to yourself, and you usually have healthy external relationships either.
It’s a big ‘ole cycle of gross.
Good friendships, healthy intimate partnerships, safe parent-child relationships, and happy co-worker relationships are required for humans to flourish. But, you must start with the relationship with yourself. Then, you’ll have an overflowing emotional bank account and be able to give to others.
By building your emotional bank account, you’ll be calmer, thrive in your relationships, and feel overall grounded and happier.
Is it true that you rode a hot air balloon over the hills of California?
Yes, and it was terrifying. But also stunningly gorgeous.
I can’t think of a single other dare-devil thing I’d rather do on my 40th birthday than be suspended in the air with my life in a stranger’s hands, floating over vast, sprawling grape fields. I’m not much of a dare-devil, so this is the riskiest thing I’ll probably ever try in my life. Of course, it’s all downhill from here (in a good way!).
There’s more to your inner self story, and you'll be doing some deep work in my courses that help you move forward. To figure out what you want for your life, help you attain your goals, and feel happy doing it.
(For clarity, using therapy in conjunction with my resources is primo! If you've already done the deep work and now want to build from here forward, this is where it's at.)
Why are you obsessed with Reality TV?
A better question might be, why would you not be?
Look, humans have the same basic needs regardless of culture, money, gender, race, ethnicity, or spiritual upbringing. Every person, no matter their current situation, is striving to get their emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual needs met. They may be failing at getting those needs met, but the need still exists.
Even though I get to peer into people’s lives every single day, watching Reality TV is yet another way for me to get a glimpse of human behavior and interactions, and I love it.
Sometimes, I give my clients the homework assignment of going to their local coffee shop and observing others’ behavior. I want them to get curious, tune into other perspectives, and imagine what others are feeling. Then, while observing others, I ask that they tune in to themselves. Your feelings and “gut feel” are your cues to understanding your best next steps. You can learn to recognize your own triggers and heightened emotions. Then, you can learn to tune into others. And that is the shiznit of connecting with your tribe.
I can’t turn away from reality television because I love observing human interaction. After years of learning about people, not a single thing surprises me about their behavior. (If Andy Cohen is reading this, maybe he’ll hire me to be a Real Housewives on-set therapist. #dreamjob)
What are some fun, rando facts about you, so I get to know you better?
I love being a Psychotherapist but hate the counseling and coaching industry. I think the whole field is excessive and confusing. Humans really aren't that hard. There are endless theories and countless methods of how people change and become their “best selves,” and frankly, I just get grossed out by that language. We all want the same thing and are headed in the same direction. There are lots of ways to skin a cat, but there are some more efficient ways to get the job done, imo.
I used to speak in tongues. I'm not religious anymore, but when I went to church with my grandmother on Sundays, she danced in the aisles and spoke in tongues. She said it’s because the holy ghost moved through her. Well, who doesn't want that?! So, I prayed real hard, then spoke some gibberish and pretended to also speak in tongues.
I wrote a sex book that sold enough copies to put my twins through private school. And it was a reallllly bad book. Don’t buy it. But the point is, I did something courageous and out of my comfort zone, and hot dang if people didn’t buy it! (I realize this doesn’t jive with my evangelical pentecostal upbringing. Read into that as you will.)
My second dream job would be to own a winery in Napa Valley. If I suddenly stop this gig and drop off the face of the Earth, rest assured, that is what I’m up to.
Or, to be a Disney blogger.
Or, a reality television on-ser therapist.
Sky's the limit!
I was President of Future Homeworkers in High School and I owned that. I was going to be a Home Economics teacher, but I changed my mind when I was choosing my courses, to Human Development and Family Studies. I can cook, sew, and choose textiles like the bomb.
I’ve been to Disney World 17 times. (And still counting). The first time was before we even had kids. My husband and I took a 2-week road trip to Florida where we visited the House of Mouse before visiting Miami and the Keys. Now that I have kids, we ramped up when my oldest kids were 6 and my youngest was 11 months (yep, I was diapering and feeding in the middle of an amusement park!) and we go at least 2 to 3 times per year.
I’m obsessed with my face regimen. Like, seriously. I’ve got like a 23-step process I go through every single morning. If I skip a step, I feel a little mad at myself for it. I mean, there could be other things I’m obsessed with, so in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t bad at all.
What would your best friends say about you?
“She wears weird clothes to go hiking. Seriously though...she’s direct and assertive, but don’t let that fool you. She is a softy. She deeply cares for people and uses her "go get it" nature to provide them exactly what they need.” -Diana
“She genuinely adds value to my life. We have a synergetic relationship where we grow together. She’s strong and admirable without the pretense. And she’s just super fun to laugh with!” - Jennifer (“The tale of two Jens”)
“She is the type of friend that when you're with her she's present. In our busy, distraction-filled lives she is attentive and always asks what's happening in your life and how you’re doing. That really means a lot for a friendship. 💗”
“She is caring, reliable, FUNNY, relatable! An amazing friend to have in your corner. She makes you feel good about who you are, is encouraging, and reliable.” - Tammy
*blush* I mean. Gah. The thing is, we all deserve this to help us move through life. AIR?
I'm a literal people person. I help people build relationships -- first with themselves, and then with other people.
How come you consider yourself a relationship guru?
Depression and anxiety gripped me as a kid and teen, but I wasn’t officially diagnosed until college. I was a sad and lonely teen and young adult. I latched on to unhealthy people so I wouldn’t feel lonely in my 20s before finally figuring out the root of my anxious attachment in my 30s. That was the decade of change for me, all while I was desperately trying to save my marriage.
I learned that for people like me, relationships don’t come easily. In the past, I beat myself up way too much, relied on others for my self-worth and self-esteem, and harbored severe distrust in other people.
My personal life taught me how to “do” relationships, and my degrees taught me the science behind the how. I received a Bachelor's degree in Human Development and Family Studies, a Master’s degree in Education in Counseling, and a Doctorate in Family Studies. I’ve worked as a couple and relationship counselor for more than 15 years, and I’ve been a counselor for almost 20.
My entire adult life has prepared me for the work I do with clients, alongside the work I continue to do with myself. People aren’t complicating, I understand what makes them tick, and I believe knowledge is power. I love showing others how to boost their self-worth, feel happy in their soul, and connect with their spiritual selves. I believe love and belongingness are every human’s birthright.
I'm in. What should I do next?
First, download the "8 Key Components to Optimal Mental Health." There, I'll give you a high-level view of what it takes to thrive.
Second, take The Happiness Assessment.
I have lots of online resources for you to choose from, but let's build our relationship first so I can better help guide you toward what you need. I send emails each week, so you'll get to know me pretty quickly. I'd love to hear from you, too!
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The fine print...
- Ph.D. Family Studies, Texas Woman’s University
- M.Ed. Education in Counseling, University of North Texas
- B.S. Human Development and Family Studies, Texas Tech University
- Mom of 3, all girls, including twins
- Wife of 1. He’s the hardest of all of them.
- Loving, trustworthy friend.
- Owner of I Choose Change PLLC Counseling Center.
- Psychotherapist for over 18 years.