At Dodini Behavioral Health we are committed to helping our clients have better lives through emotional and psychological growth, personal development, and balance. We strongly believe it is personal growth, not just managing symptoms, that brings lasting happiness. Sometimes symptoms are the body’s way of alerting us to underlying problems. Once we address the underlying problems we can move on to finding personal fulfillment, professional success, and improved intimacy and connections to others. That is the fun part! It’s also the part we love and feel so lucky to be able to participate in with so many great people.
I’m the oldest of ten kids. I’m not sure I had any choice but to become a psychologist! The truth is, my early life experiences prepared me well and gave me the skills to be a great psychologist. After spending some time in my ancestral home in the Swiss Alps and finishing my undergrad degree in Psychology, I enrolled at Virginia Tech’s Marriage & Family Therapy master’s degree program. Two years into that three year program, I began what would be a six year Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology at Catholic University that I attended concurrently with Virginia Tech. I don’t recommend concurrently attending to two graduate schools while at the same time expecting your first child. That would be the NON-balanced approach to living. Needless to say, after nine years of graduate work, four children, and nearly two decades of marriage, I have come to embrace a philosophy of life balance. Over the 17 years I’ve been in practice, it’s been my great honor to help others identify and pursue their own version of growth and balance. I believe in the basic truth that we grow and learn life’s greatest lessons in the company of others. It is on this core philosophy that my practice is established.
Like all 12 year old boys on my dad’s side of the family, I was sent to work on my uncle’s cattle ranch in Wyoming for the summer. Job responsibilities included: branding and castrating cattle, throwing rocks out of fields, and moving sprinkler pipes in mosquito-infested fields at 5:30 every morning. We were told that working on the ranch would build work ethic and character. You can imagine my disappointment when it occurred to me that neither of those things happened. Instead, I returned home at the end of the summer with the reaffirmation that my calling in life was to make movies, not work on a cattle ranch.
I have always been fascinated by how we, as humans, make sense of the world, be it through artistic expression, research, debate, or therapy. As an undergraduate, I studied both psychology and English to explore the interconnections between literature and psychological constructs like emotion, thought, and human connection. A few years later, I decided to focus on psychology, leaving writing as a hobby, earning my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from The George Washington University. As a therapist, I get the opportunity to help my clients hear themselves differently, rewrite their histories, share stories they have never had the opportunity to tell, and gain an understanding of themselves that empowers change.
I view therapy as a joint venture in healing and growth where everyone’s situation and experiences are unique. I try to allow for creativity to infuse my every day and believe that feeling supported can transform the way we view our worlds. I also believe that our mind and body are closely integrated and that taking an intrinsic and holistic approach to health can help a person more effectively cope with anxiety, trauma, grief, and depression.
“Please Mind the Gap” was a phrase I heard countless times during early adulthood as I was living in England, settling into my first years of graduate school, and beginning my clinical career. On the London Underground a digital voice echoes this phrase every time the doors are opened, kindly reminding passengers to be thoughtful and aware while stepping over the gap between the train door and station platform. Over time, I’ve come to appreciate how this (mildly obnoxious) phrase truly epitomizes the work of therapy. In a sound, secure therapy relationship, we are able to pay attention to the space between where we are actually standing and the place we really want to be.
I took the scenic route into psychology as my profession. I started out working in public libraries, later studied theology, and worked in public health policy before beginning my training in psychology. Saying “Yes” to a number of other paths eventually led me to doing what I love – namely working with people who need a space to stop, reflect and consider how to move forward with their lives.
Before discovering psychotherapy and the world of psychology, my first passion was outside. Rock climbing, mountain biking, outdoor leadership and team building; these were more than hobbies, they became my first career, providing me financial support throughout graduate school, and providing adventures and stories to last a lifetime. But more important than all others, these things helped me find my best and lifelong friends. This thread, the importance of relationships and how they change our lives, runs through my life both outside the office as well as within, and is reflected in my work with clients. The core of my work within psychotherapy is focusing on how we relate to others, and how understanding and examination of the ways in which we relate can empower us to live more genuine, healthy, and fulfilling lives.
Ms. Mecham Jensen has been Dr. Dodini’s primary co-therapist for over fourteen years. While she is not an associate of Dodini Behavioral Health, she is an integral component of the practice. Ms. Mecham Jensen co-leads many groups with Dr. Dodini and together they have assisted 100’s of couples find fulfillment in relationships through better self awareness and improved communication. Mindy can be reached at (703) 739-2614.