Natalie Willis, M.A.
I am a therapist who graduated in 2013 from the University of New Mexico with a Masters in Counseling (Clinical Mental Health counseling). As a counselor, I believe in empowering my clients, approaching each client from a wellness perspective, and viewing each client as an individual. I help my clients to assess which areas of their lives might be interfering with them leading a more fulfilling life and then work to assist them in resolving those issues. My clients might be struggling with challenging relationships, work issues, physical health, life transitions, stress, sexuality, anxiety, panic, and depression. I really enjoy helping clients to assess what their values are and how we can work towards achieving a more value-filled life.
Generally, I work using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. I appreciate Cognitive Behavioral Therapy because it is an evidence-based approach that is effective, easy to integrate into a client’s life, and empowers the client to be able to identify and resolve problems more autonomously in the future. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an approach that I really like because it also integrates mindfulness into the therapy which I believe can be a valuable tool for anyone.
Regardless of the approach, the most important part of therapy to me is the relationship between myself and my client. I try to meet the client where they are, and to create space in which someone can feel at ease and supported. In addition, as a new clinician, I work hard to make sure that I am consulting for supervision when necessary for ethical or professional issues. Depending on the client’s goals and issues, my approach can range from short-term, solution-focused, to a more in-depth approach. The goals and path of the therapeutic process will always be a collaborative effort between myself and my client. I hope to help my clients find whatever path is going to lead to the most fulfilling life for them and then find the confidence to achieve that life, in essence becoming the person they are meant to be.
When I am not working, I love to spend time outdoors – hiking, running, taking my dog to the beach, or just enjoying a nice meal.
I like to take a collaborative approach with my clients, assessing what is most important and identifying goals, both big and small, that will lead to a more value-filled life. I enjoy helping people to feel supported and empowered to overcome fears and worries, feel more confident in their abilities to cope, and improve their overall quality of life.
I have worked with clients who are struggling with a wide range of issues: anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, depression, family conflict, relationship issues, work burnout, and adjustment to major life changes, to name a few. While I feel confident working on a multitude of issues, I have a special interest in helping people with anxiety and stress. Sometimes the process might involve shorter term, solution-focused therapy, or it may involve longer-term work to explore more fundamental ways of relating to the world. In either case, I like to consider what is most useful and effective to my client while being mindful of how therapy might fit into their often-busy lives.
My Approaches to Therapy
First and foremost, I want to create a space that is positive and open. I’m aware that therapy can sometimes be intimidating, which is why I aim to be transparent and communicative regarding the therapeutic process. I strive to create a warm and supportive environment and like to bring in humor.
I enjoy helping clients find effective and specific ways of acting on their goals and values outside of therapy, and am comfortable taking a “coaching” stance, helping clients experiment with new approaches. I also value feedback around the therapeutic process, and want my clients to feel like they are getting what they need to be most successful in meeting their goals. I encourage my client’s to be self-reflective, but can also take on a more direct and active approach when needed.
While I believe in tailoring my approach to fit the individual, I most often work from the perspectives of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Both approaches are evidence-based and are effective with a variety of issues. I also tend to incorporate mindfulness and relaxation techniques, as I’ve found that these can be impactful in dealing more effectively with emotions and fostering acceptance.
I believe in taking a biopsychosocial approach, meaning that I think it’s important to assess for the interaction of biological (genes, health, etc.), social (familial, cultural, socioeconomic, social inclusivity), and psychological (mood and personality) factors. I also value cultural, gender, and sexual diversity and enjoy working with clients from all backgrounds.
I earned my masters in Counseling at the University of New Mexico in 2013, with a focus on clinical counseling. During my practicum at the UNM, I worked at a counseling center where I saw clients dealing with depression, anxiety, and relationship issues. I then worked at a therapy practice specializing in substance use and ran groups for court-mandated clients. I also worked with youth and families in a residential treatment program.
Before obtaining licensure as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, I was working under the supervision of Dr. Jonathan Horowitz at SF Stress and Anxiety Center. I gained supervision and training on addressing anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, stress management, adjustment, and relationship issues.
I have also worked as a therapist and crisis counselor for youth and families through the YMCA of San Francisco. I treated both individuals and families on a variety of issues, including anxiety, trauma, depression, suicidality, and family conflict.
I am currently licensed as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) and as a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern (MFTi). I strive to stay up to date on the latest evidenced-based therapies and attend trainings and consultation groups regularly.
Outside of work, I like to stay active with yoga, hiking, going to the beach with my dogs and traveling. I love any kind of gathering that involves food, friends, and family.
Natalie Willis Graber, LPCC 3877 and MFTi 82284