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 think that may mean I was born to become a psychologist! My early life experiences have 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. I attended the two schools concurrently. 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 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.
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.
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: herding cattle, throwing rocks out of fields, and moving sprinkler pipes in mosquito-infested alfalfa 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 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.
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.
As a compassionate and integrative therapist, I strive to provide a safe, supportive and nurturing environment to my clients. Grounded in a relational and multicultural orientation, I lean heavily towards practicing psychotherapy from the depth- and insight- oriented approaches while integrating complementary therapy approaches, tools and techniques as needed. I offer short- and long-term psychotherapy working to meet the goals that we collaboratively set and reassess throughout the course of our work together. The study of psychology in my undergraduate and graduate years awakened and honed in me a life-long interest and curiosity about human thought, emotion and behavior. I realized that psychology actually met more than just my desire and passion to help others, it also met my intellectual and emotional curiosities about human behavior.
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 do what I love – namely working with people who need a space to stop, reflect and consider how to move forward with their lives.
I entered into my undergraduate years excited to fulfill my adolescent dream of becoming a lawyer. Those dreams quickly met the reality of studying subjects that were a struggle and of little interest. Luckily, I had decided to take a psychology course as well, and found myself reading my textbooks out of curiosity and interest even in my spare time and quickly determining that a change in major was necessary. I went on to complete my Master’s and PhD in Clinical Psychology at George Mason University and have worked in both public and private practice. I consider myself fortunate to have chosen a career that I continue to find fulfilling, challenging, and worthwhile after over 15 years of working with clients.
The decision to begin psychotherapy can be difficult. If you are a new client there can be many questions and concerns about what therapy may look like. While no course of therapy looks the same, I will do my best to be as transparent as possible in the process and try to alleviate any anxiety or worry you may have about getting started. Together we will come to know your presenting concern, the history and background of the issue, and establish a therapeutic direction. I take the perspective that you are the expert of your life and your story. My goal is to listen empathetically through your lens, recognize patterns of behavior, clarify values, and promote cognitive flexibility. While therapy can be challenging, it does not have to be scary or overwhelming. I have seen time and time again how rewarding and transformative this experience can be. Over the last several years I have provided counseling and conducted research for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, several university counseling centers, and an outpatient community mental health clinic. These different opportunities afforded me the ability to treat clients with various identities and presenting concerns. In my free time I enjoy doing martial arts, playing music with friends, catching up on television shows, and spending time with my family.
I have been a therapist for over 15 years, and I love the challenges and rewards of my profession. The therapeutic relationship is unlike any other relationship because, for many, there are few places in life where you can just focus on yourself—your relationships, your fears and concerns, and your most personal desires and goals. When you feel like you have too much on your plate, therapy allows you to come up for air, engage in meaningful self-reflection, and discover what you are made of and how you can be true to yourself going forward. My style of practice is authentic, compassionate, and straightforward, and I believe that a sense of humor goes a long way in helping people feel comfortable and connected. My goal is to make each therapy session productive and enlightening—something you look forward to attending.
Providing therapy is a sacred calling for me, and I am honored to empower my clients to reach their goals or to explore unknown destinations. As a systemic therapist working with individuals, couples, and families, I offer holistic support and relational strategies to reduce conflict, gain awareness, and increase capacity for healthy living. My experience as a clinician, supervisor, and professor combined with previous careers as a journalist and communications executive have given me unique tools to help you address a variety of issues, including trauma, anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, and challenges of acculturation. But it has been my own healing journey that has given me insight into how we can grow and become the authors of our own stories. Based on my transpersonal and humanistic stance, we will collaborate on what will work best for your needs, whether it’s experiential and expressive arts or cognitive-behavioral and structural approaches.
Ms. Mecham Jensen has been Dr. Dodini’s primary co-therapist for over sixteen 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 to find fulfillment in relationships through better self-awareness, courage to be vulnerable and intimate and connect in more meaningful ways. Along the way couples learn how to listen and the speak more openly and authentically–the keys to better communication. Mindy can be reached at (703) 739-2614.