a boutique counseling experience

Introducing Kristen Holmes, MS, LPC

Kristen shares her view on her work. Get to know Kristen to see if she is a good fit. Kristen Holmes specializes in: Foster Care and Adoption, Family Therapy (Family Systems Trauma Therapy), Parent/Child Conflict.

Who do you help? Ideal client?

What is your general philosophy and approach to helping? Are you more directive or more guiding?

What are your strengths as a therapist?

What are your client's results after coming to see you?

Contact Kristen

Kristen Holmes, MS, LPC

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Kristen Holmes, MS, LPC

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4530 N Oakland Ave
Whitefish Bay, WI 53211

Video Transcript

Laurie: My name is Laurie Groh. I'm co-owner at Shoreside Therapies and today we are introducing Kristen Holmes. She's a new therapist at Shoreside Therapies and we're so excited to have you, Kristen, and I just want to get to know you a bit. So and hoping our audience will too! All right. So, Kristen, we want to hear all about who you help. So share a little bit about your ideal client, who tends to be the people that you see.

Kristen: So my ideal client. I kind of see everyone, which is great. I have a lot of experience working with kids ages five all the way up to a teenager, 18, but then I also have experience working with individuals as well. So typically the kind of client that I see, you are probably experiencing a lot of stress either around just normal life, things that are going on, transitions, parenting, any kind of changes that are going on in your life. Maybe it's a busy season. I tend to do a lot of work with people who also struggle with anxiety and depression, as well as people who are coming in with trauma. So whether it's little t trauma, like we call it, or big T trauma, I have experience working with both and yeah, those tend to be the people that I see. I do a lot of individual work, but I can also work with parents, caregiver, foster parents.

Laurie: That's awesome. That's a lot of people you can help right people? Yeah, so for those that might not know what little T versus big T trama, could you just speak just a little tiny bit about that?

Kristen: Yeah, so trauma is actually defined as any upsetting or confusing event. Right. I think we tend to think of trauma as like this big trauma, of like I've had a loss in my life or something that's happened that is life-changing or life-altering, and so for little t trauma, that can be anything from loss of a job to maybe a loss of something that feels normal for you right. You might even see little t trauma around. You know, maybe you have a really high stress or in trigger around certain things. Right, parent, have a problem that's coming in as you're becoming apparent right, or you're starting a new job or something along those lines. So those would be little t traumas. Those things would cause some disruption to your life, but it's not necessarily something that is debilitating right.

Laurie: Right.

Kristen: So, big T trauma is more along the lines of what we see in a specific event that's happened 5 to 6 months later, you're still experiencing a lot of trauma or response related to anything that's familiar to that experience. So this is where you would see like deaths in the family. Covid has been a huge trauma for a lot of people. Right, because not only did it affect just our everyday life, but it's been long-lasting right. We're still experiencing stuff related to the pandemic and so those kind of traumas. It might be childhood trauma right, where experienced abuse or whether physical or emotional abuse, there might be some neglect there. So that's why I end up doing a lot of work around foster families and families who have finalized adoptions, because we know that a lot of trauma and things like that can happen.

Laurie: Yes.

Kristen: That gives you a good mission.

Laurie: Yeah, that is so helpful to know that there is some differences between the two. That little t trama are those things that have a massive effect on you and are very stressful events, and then the big t traumas are more like the life-threatening or passing on of somebody. That's incredible and Kristen, you specialize in working with families, with adoption, finalizing adoption and foster kids that have families that have foster kids, and that is an incredible resource for all those families out there that might be struggling. That's very, very cool and we're excited to have you help with that. All right. So next one, what's your general philosophy or approach to helping? So one of the big questions a lot of people might have is: are you more directive or more guiding in your sessions?

Kristen: Yeah, so I was thinking about this question in the fact that I think I bring a good balance of both. Right. I think it's really important to first talk with you when you're coming in for your first session. What are you looking for? Right? Because I think there is a place to allow the client to just explore and kind of help with that. And me come in as someone who is curious and can kind of ask the questions to help you explore some things that you're coming in for. But then because of the family work that I have done and specifically the parenting work that I've done, sometimes that requires a more a directive approach. You might be coming in looking for specific skills or specific approaches to parenting or how do I, you know, deal with this difficult teenager that I have right? So in that instance we're going to do a lot more directive work right. So I think in general, I tend to be more guiding in the beginning, especially because we tend to make a phone call or reach out to a therapist and we have this one thing in mind that we really want to work on and then you get into the therapy office and as you start talking in that initial session, you realize, oh well, this is actually connected to this, or, also experiencing this and this environment. So I think for me I just like to bring a good balance of both until we get to know each other and then kind of talk about what are our goals? Where are we looking for?

Laurie: Right, right, right, and I think too, that beginning part is so important of relationship building and exploring so that you know as much information as possible before there is any direction. You know that piece is super important to have clarity there and what the client wants. So I think that's that's an amazing balance to have. And also when somebody is coming in as a family or a couple, they're going to need some more concrete directions. You know they might not be coming in to explore anything, they just want to know what are the scales. Help me with these skills.

Kristen: Right, right, and that's why I've done additional trauma training, specifically in working with the family system. So we call it family systems trama, because in that instance, you're coming in and you're wanting a therapist to explore those really tender areas. So in that work there's specific approaches and interventions that I use and you're actually practicing and rehearsing skills in the therapy session that you can use at home. That is going to be more directed work because you're learning new ways, like you said, to kind of approach things right. So, like I said, it just kind of depends on what you're coming in with.

Laurie: Yeah, and it takes practice and it feels a little strange and awkward for you sort of have to try it out. How does that sound? And that's kind of the fun, lighthearted part sometimes of, ooh, I can tell that didn't come out the way I meant it to come out.

Kristen: Yeah, exactly!

Laurie: All right, so the next question, let's move on. Your strengths as a therapist, so why don't you share a little bit of your strengths as a therapist?

Kristen: Yes, one of the strengths that I have as a therapist is I really care about listening to the client. So when you're coming in to see me in the beginning, there might be a little bit of talking and questioning as we get to know each other. But I am coming to you and wanting to hear about you and your life, and so I work really hard to create an environment that is conducive to that, because it can feel really awkward, especially if this is your first time coming in for therapy. It can feel really awkward because you're like, I don't really know how this works or what I'm supposed to say, if I even can say this. So I think that not only do I provide a really good listening ear, but I also am really gentle with how we approach things. I'm very careful to be empathic, and understanding and I don't want to push you. You know, I think there is time for there to be challenge, but I also really value the therapeutic relationship and the report, the trust that we need to be able to do that, and so I think that's definitely one of my strength is building that report with clients, and I think too, I've learned that because I work with teenagers, and other kids who may not be comfortable with therapy or they may be looking. This is something that I'm being forced to do right, and so I really value getting to know the client. What are your interests? It's not beyond me to use, to get a kid or get a young adult to engage in something that they are into. I've gone as far as to use fortnight, you know, not necessarily playing the video games, but getting into the head of the client. You know, and what is it about you that you're good at? What do you love to do? Because that's something that is common. So really I'm just building that report with a client and that listening to.

Laurie: Right and just being connective, right, and that's that's showing when you're showing interest in, especially with teenagers and middle schoolers, they're feeling at that stage, maybe like no one's really listening to me. You know there's a lot of structure, a lot of rules, a lot of them listening or needing to listen, and so having that space to be able to talk about something they might want to for a minute is really valuable. The other thing too, Kristen, and it might not come across via video, but you have this really warm and calm presence that I think is also just important to note that being in the room with you feels so comfortable, and I think that's a needed quality as well, because again, especially in that first session, it's uncomfortable. Feel like almost everyone walking in says like I'm not quite sure if they've never done it before, like what is this going to be?

Kristen: Yeah, absolutely, you know, and as a therapist I've also gone through my own therapy, and so I know what it feels like to really be missing that connection with a therapist. And if you're missing that, there's very little that you're willing to do and work on and process in the room because of various reasons: whether you're not feeling just connected or whether you're not feeling that warmth right from a clinician. But I also think, if you don't feel that there's some sort of like, some sort of thing that you're getting right. It's hard to put into words until you feel it, but if you don't feel like that therapist is present, I think that's what it is. There's an important part of that: that you want that therapist to be present right and in the room with you and also willing to sit with you and not necessarily give advice, but more in a way of creating space, and so I think that that's probably what that comes from, is just I want to make sure that this is your time. I want to make sure that you feel like you can sit here with me and whatever we need to talk about that day we can talk about, but then you can also leave feeling a little bit better than when you came in.

Laurie: Right, which is always a great feeling, to kind of walk out and feel whoof, kind of like a nice breath. All right. So, Kristen, last question, but tell me a bit about like the results. So we got an understanding of how the therapy session works with you. What do your clients expect to see after we know that first session, probably a relief, and probably all the other ones some sort of relief. But not all sessions are like that. Sometimes there's tough ones.

Kristen: Yeah. And especially because I do some trauma work, and so one thing that I really want clients to feel and have when we're finishing up is self-love and acceptance. I think that we are flooded with things that we should do, should be. We have a lot of, especially in our society, we have a lot of expectations that we're trying to meet, whether it's expectations from ourselves that we're putting on ourselves or expectations that are coming from the outside, and it can be really hard to be in touch with who you are as a person. So and really be considering that as you're growing and as you're, I always think of it as life as a journey, and so as you're kind of moving through life and you're growing, I want clients to feel that they have, that they are really truly in touch with their self. This is their inner self. The other thing that I hear from clients a lot too when we're wrapping up is I feel like this has been an experience that I am walking away from that I understand myself a little bit more right, not even a little bit more, but I understand myself in a whole different way than what I came in, but I'm able to connect things differently than I was before. Maybe you're walking away with, you want skills, and all of those things are really important. But if you don't have the confidence and the self-esteem to be able to live and walk and breathe in those skills, then I think that's something that is even more important, and so in coming in with me, that's something that we talk a lot about. Is your own version of yourself, how you perceive yourself right and then also, I think, just knowing that you're enough, that no matter what you're bringing in and what your experiences are, especially in everything that we have going on, that you're enough, that whatever you bring to the table is a gift that you have, a strength that you have, and so I want clients to walk out feeling empowered. That just doesn't happen in that first time. In that probably about three or four sessions in you're probably like I don't, nope, I don't feel empowered, I don't feel good. There's a lot of stuff that's coming up right, but it's kind of like that monster under the bed. When you're a kid and you're scared of the dark and you feel like there's a monster under the bed or in the closet. It's helpful to turn the light on first, because then you know exactly what you're facing, and so I want clients to feel like: oh, I turned the light on and it wasn't as scary. Or, I feel better now that I actually like faced it. So the empowerment and the confidence to face those things that seem really scary in the beginning.

Laurie: Yeah, and they would be doing something different right with the light on and looking at it and not as scared, you're going to react different than if you're feeling scared in that moment. So Kristen, thank you so much for talking with me. Really really great interview today and I want to let everybody know that they can reach out to Kristen. She's going to be starting after Thanksgiving. She has some openings, so feel free to reach out to her whenever you want and you can go to our website at www.shoresidetherapies.com, and you'll find her contact information there. Thanks again.

Kristen: Yes, thank you so much. I can't wait to get started.

Laurie: Me too, all right, bye Kristen!

Kristen: Bye!

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