My name is Catherine Starr and I have practiced social work in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and the broader Washtenaw County area since 2012. I have certification and training in the evidenced based trauma therapies of Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). After receiving my MSW from the University of Michigan I began working as a case manager and mental health professional at Youth and Family Services, part of Washtenaw County Community Mental Health. During these years I witnessed the disruptive force that mental illness can have on young people and their families, as well as the transformative power that effective therapies within compassionate relationship can bring. I began The Safe Calm Place to create a healing environment dedicated to supporting families in need of mental health healing and recovery.
Therapy can often feel like work (whether the primary format is play or talk) because it is a purposeful process that requires time, the strength to acknowledge intense levels of emotion and mindful reflection. For this work to be most successful, it requires the efforts of both the parent and the child. The reward, however, is a renewed and more stable sense of self, as well as an enhanced capacity for love and joy.
My heart is filled with appreciation for young people who have survived unimaginable pain and maintain the resilience to do the work necessary for recovery. As a therapist I am inspired and emboldened by the beauty and creativity that children bring to therapy. Families often seek help in times of chaos and confusion. In these moments of fear, anger, or deep sadness, we may find hope to be fleeting and tenuous. I view my role as a therapist to be the holder of hope, a container for feelings which appear to be overwhelming, until the process of therapy can allow for that role to be taken over successfully by the child and family. Our work is triumphant when a child begins to recognize the value of caring for her mental health, or when a young adult notices the calm and stability that comes from developing his social connections and emotional mindfulness. Each journey to mental wellness will look different, will require individual attention, but will allow children and families to emerge with their own enhanced genuine beauty and strength.