Katie Chiasson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Delray Beach, FL. Many of Katie's clients have experienced trauma, ranging from childhood adversity to recent distressing events. Some struggle with issues related to anxiety, depression, and PTSD, while others may be dealing with grief and loss. Having earned certificates from both the EMDR International Association and the Trauma Institute International, Katie is committed to furthering her knowledge in the field and working with clients to develop the coping strategies they need to regain a sense of control and well-being in their life.
We asked Katie more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.
Katie’s background and personal life
How did you decide to become a therapist?
My choice to become a therapist felt like a natural progression of my own development, as my upbringing instilled in me the importance of certain values in this profession. These values include forming genuine connections with people, helping community members who need support, and using my interest in human resiliency to support people who have endured hardships.
What was your previous work before going into private practice?
My experience involves assisting a wide scope of community members who have faced adversity and trauma. This has encompassed aiding homeless families in Palm Beach County as a Child Resilience Specialist, providing relief to individuals dealing with mental illness and trauma in their personal homes, schools and residential programs, and helping young adults to senior citizens who have struggled with substance abuse, offering them professional mental health services to aid in their recovery.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
In my leisure time I find great joy in sharing moments of play with my family, including our energetic young toddler. We love to go on adventures outdoors, exploring new places. Our family dogs have also been cherished companions for many years, providing a warm and comforting presence that adds such happiness to our home.
Katie’s specialties and therapy philosophies
What guiding principles inform your work?
The therapy I provide is anchored in a set of guiding principles that shape the way I approach healing and recovery for individuals who have experienced trauma. Central to my therapeutic approach is the understanding that creating a safe and non-judgmental space where clients can explore their past experiences is critical. I prioritize empowerment, fostering a sense of agency and control for clients as they navigate their healing journey.
Additionally, I emphasize a client-centered approach, recognizing that each person's experience is unique, and tailoring interventions accordingly. I am committed to utilizing evidence-based practices and staying informed about the latest research to ensure the most effective treatment methods. Lastly, my trauma therapy is rooted in compassion, empathy, and a deep respect for the resilience and strength that survivors possess. These principles serve as the compass that guides my therapeutic work, ultimately helping individuals find their path to recovery and well-being.
What clientele do you work with most frequently?
My practice is inclusive and open to adults of all backgrounds, ages, and walks of life. I have experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and those facing the challenges of military service-related trauma. My clients come from different cultural backgrounds, and I am dedicated to providing culturally sensitive therapy, recognizing the importance of tailoring my approach to their individual needs and values.
In my practice, I am committed to fostering an environment of trust, empathy, and respect, ensuring that each client feels heard and supported on their journey toward healing and personal growth.
Can you tell us more about your specialty in trauma?
I specialize in helping adults heal from trauma, including treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It's crucial to recognize that overwhelming life experiences, those that surpass an individual's capacity to cope effectively, can indeed be significant and traumatic events.
Trauma is not limited to a single or specific set of experiences; it encompasses a wide range of circumstances. Whether it's a sudden loss, a natural disaster, prolonged emotional abuse, witnessing an accident, or living through any other distressing incident, these events can deeply impact a person's mental and emotional well-being.
In my practice I support my clients’ understanding that what happened to them, and what they’ve experienced matters. And the array of pain left behind by trauma matters. The painful effects of trauma can be treated and the lasting impressions that life altering experiences have on a person’s life is worthy of being understood.
Can you tell us more about your specialties in complex PTSD?
Recovery from complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a multifaceted journey that requires patience, resilience, and therapeutic support. C-PTSD often results from the impact of long-term, repeated traumatic events, such as emotional abuse and neglect.
Through the therapy process, I help my clients understand how these traumatic experiences, conditions, or relationships in childhood can translate into adulthood, affecting one's emotional and mental well-being. Recovery involves confronting and processing difficult memories and emotions associated with these past traumas.
I offer my clients guidance, helping individuals regain a sense of control over their lives and emotions, while fostering healing and growth in the face of such complex and deeply ingrained wounds.
Can you tell us about your work with clients navigating major life transitions?
I offer individualized therapy for those navigating stressful life transitions. For many of my clients, therapeutic support becomes an invaluable resource when coping with difficult or impactful life changes, which may include moving to a new area, going through relationship transitions, engaging in child-rearing, or experiencing career shifts. These transitions often bring about a surge of stress and emotional challenges. For some, these life changes can prompt a desire to address themes of personal identity and purpose.
Throughout our sessions, you will have the opportunity to explore your thoughts and feelings related to these changes, gaining insight and coping strategies to better manage the resulting stress. Our central focus often revolves around learning self-care practices tailored to your unique circumstances, empowering you to navigate these transitions with increased resilience and a greater sense of balance. This therapeutic support can serve as a transformative guide through the intricacies of life's transitional phases.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
The most rewarding aspect of being a trauma specialist is the opportunity to be present with others, make a positive impact on their lives during their most challenging moments. It's deeply fulfilling to witness the transformation and growth of individuals as they work through their emotional wounds, build resilience, and regain control over their mental and emotional well-being.
Helping people heal from trauma and find healthier ways to cope with their struggles can be immensely gratifying, and knowing that you've played a part in their journey toward recovery and a brighter future is a source of profound satisfaction.
Therapy sessions with Katie
What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?
The focus of our initial session will be on establishing a trusting, therapeutic relationship, and exploring reasons why you’ve sought therapy. Some people find it beneficial to write a few areas of concern, areas that cause them emotional distress, to begin reviewing during their first session. We will work together to identify specific goals and areas of focus to be addressed throughout your future sessions.
Additionally, I will help you in beginning to identify your personal strengths and abilities to be used throughout your therapeutic experience. I will offer empowering feedback and encouragement for further personal development. Your decision to improve your mental health and wellbeing is honorable and will be treated as such.
How long do clients typically see you for?
I support autonomy in my client’s care. This means when discussing therapy participation, the person seeking help can decide how long and how often they want to receive treatment. I provide my professional recommendations on these matters and will be flexible to meet the needs of my clients.
We'll work together to set clear goals and regularly check to see how things are going. This process often helps people figure out how long they want to continue therapy and find satisfaction in their personal growth journey.
Are there any books you often recommend to clients?
These books are educational resources that can provide valuable information and guidance, empowering survivors to take control of their recovery and feel less alone in their process. Ultimately, reading can be a source of solace, enlightenment, and a means of fostering hope for those on the path to healing from trauma.
These first two books are extremely informative on the therapeutic approach, EMDR, which is a specialized trauma treatment I provide in my practice. They outline how trauma disrupts areas of the brain and body that are essential to fostering emotional stability and provides detailed information on how traumatic memories may be effectively reprocessed with new understanding and less negative reactivity.
- Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life With Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy by Francine Shapiro
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
“When Things Fall Apart” is a beautifully written book that cultivates wisdom, compassion and courage in the midst of difficult times. This is a book that I return to reading time and time again due to the comforting words within its pages.
- When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön
Do you assign “homework” between sessions?
The type of therapy I provide does not require a rigid expectation of “homework completion,” rather, throughout sessions my clients become educated on how to utilize skills that offer personal emotional relief in their lives. This process is personalized, as what one person needs may be different from the next person’s needs. For example, some people will benefit from practicing grounding skills to use in response to trauma related flashbacks and panic attacks, while others are in need of building community connection to relieve their feelings of isolation and loneliness.
In all of my sessions I offer practical feedback and invitations for my clients to utilize learned skills throughout their life and always encourage a commitment to self-care throughout the week between sessions for optimal treatment outcomes.
How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?
It is important that the client’s I work with experience a sense of personal growth and development throughout their therapy process. Depending on the circumstance that has prompted someone to meet with me, depends how progress in therapy is measured.
For those who are seeking emotional and psychological relief from their symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, together we may use evidenced based assessments to track the decrease in symptom severity and occurrence (i.e. tracking symptoms of nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, and behavioral patterns of avoiding stimuli related to trauma).
For those seeking therapy as a space to process thoughts, feelings, beliefs related to personal development and identity, we may use less ridge forms of assessments and track progress through self-reflection and discovery, working collaboratively to move towards client’s stated goals.
How do I know that it’s time to start seeking therapy?
I understand that recognizing connecting with a therapist can be a challenging and deeply personal decision. There are several signs that may indicate that you are ready to embark on this healing journey. First and foremost, if you find that your past traumatic experiences are significantly impacting your daily life, causing intense emotions, flashbacks, nightmares, or persistent anxiety, it may be time to seek therapy.
Trust your instincts; if you're struggling to manage your emotions and thoughts on your own and it's interfering with your relationships, work, or overall well-being, therapy can provide the support and guidance you need to move forward. Additionally, if you've reached a point where you're open to stepping beyond what is familiar for your personal growth and healing, you are in a strong position to benefit from therapy. Remember, reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and it's an important step toward reclaiming your life and well-being.
Why should I seek therapy, rather than turning to my partner, friends, or other loved ones?
Seeking therapy from a trained and experienced professional offers you a unique and invaluable opportunity to heal and grow in ways that may not be possible through reliance on friends, partners, or loved ones. Specifically, trauma specialists have undergone extensive training, enabling them to understand the intricacies of trauma, its impact on mental and emotional well-being, and the most effective therapeutic approaches. They provide a safe and confidential space for you to explore your experiences without the fear of judgment or burdening others.
While friends and loved ones can offer support, their perspective may be biased, and they might not possess the knowledge and tools to guide you through the healing process. Therapy with a trauma specialist ensures that you receive evidence-based, personalized treatment tailored to your specific needs, offering you the best chance to overcome the challenges trauma presents and ultimately achieve a sense of well-being and resilience.
What advice would you share with therapy seekers?
Seeking therapy is a courageous step towards self-discovery and personal growth. Remember that it's entirely normal to feel apprehensive about the process, but please know that you're not alone in your journey. In therapy, you'll find a safe and confidential space where you can explore your thoughts, emotions, and concerns. Be open and honest.
I approach my clients with deep respect and patience. Together, we'll work towards understanding your challenges, finding coping strategies, and fostering positive change.
Visit Katie’s profile to watch her introductory video, read more about her, and book an initial call!