About Marilyn

What expertise do I offer you?

For over thirty years I have been gaining expertise in understanding the needs of those hurt by sexual, verbal, emotional, spiritual, and/or physical abuse, as well as the long-term effects of abuse.

This journey began when I entered counseling to face the trauma of my own childhood sexual abuse and the devastating consequences of my silence about my shameful secret.

Encouraged by the healing I experienced in individual and group counseling, I obtained extensive training and then began leading groups for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and for mothers of sexual abuse victims.

To become further qualified, I attended the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley in Menasha, Wisconsin and then Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. In 1994, I graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

In 2002, I moved to Seattle, Washington to attend Mars Hill Graduate School (now named The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology). In December of 2004, I received my Master of Arts in Counseling and Certification in Domestic Violence Advocacy.

What life experience help me to understand your needs?

My marriage ended in divorce soon after the birth of my seventh child, so I understand the trauma of divorce and the needs of single parents. One of my sons died, so I am intimately acquainted with the grieving process. Because I had spent so many years hiding my pain, denying problems, and pretending I was fine, when my life fell apart, no one believed me when I revealed the truth about the verbal and emotional abuse in my marriage - we had looked so good on the outside. Much rejection from my church and family followed the disclosure of abuse and alcoholism, so I understand the dynamics in a family and a culture that prefers to deny truth and believe the lies of abusers.

I continue to be in the ongoing process of being transformed by the renewal of my mind (Romans 12:2), so I know how difficult the journey is to change the patterns of thinking and relating that developed in response to childhood trauma, fears, and perceptions. Even more difficult was seeing how I had hurt my children by my old patterns of avoidance, denial of feelings, needing to be right, and people-pleasing. Sorrow over the past feels like walking through the valley of the shadow of death, but it leads to life and freedom.

I began college when my youngest child began kindergarten, so I know what it is like for a single mom to pursue an education in hopes of following her dreams. When my youngest graduated from high school, I sold my home in Wisconsin and moved to Washington, where I knew no one, to attend Mars Hill Graduate School. I believed that this school would move me along in my journey to become the person I needed to be in order to more effectively meet the needs of others who are hurting.

Sixteen years earlier, in a counselor training seminar in the Midwest, Dan Allender, author of The Wounded Heart, had said that we can only help others to the degree that we are willing to look at ourselves. I knew I had more work to do on changing me. Indeed, I had more fears to face, more old patterns to change, and more wounds to grieve before I was ready to begin my counseling practice. Thus, I understand that we are all unfinished people in the process of "becoming."

Why do I have hope for others?

I can have hope for others because: