RACHEL WEDDLES, MA,MFTC: MY JOURNEY TO BECOMING A RELATIONSHIP THERAPIST
My dad still tells the story of how, when I was a child, I hung a sign on my bedroom door that said, “If you want to talk, come inside.” So began my circuitous yet determined journey toward becoming a therapist.
I completed my BA in Psychology, focusing my research on child development. Understanding the early years of development—especially the significant interplay between emotion, needs and behavior—was a passion of mine. Consequently, I wanted to work directly with children and positively impact their lives. And on a personal note, I felt inspired to follow the footsteps of my grandparents and aunt, who’d all had careers in education.
After receiving a master’s in Education, I began teaching. I worked in an inner-city environment and was devoted to the emotional needs of my students. In fact, I soon came to realize that I was more skilled at addressing emotional and psychological issues than the actual art of teaching. Even better, I truly enjoyed homing in on these issues.
Chapter One: Becoming a Parent Who Helps Parents
After having my own children, I left teaching and started a business focused on helping parents manage the challenges of children’s sleep. This was borne from the difficulties I had faced as a new mom struggling to find support.
From that moment forward, I became committed to helping parents feel rested, empowered and positively engaged with their children. This immeasurably rewarding work led directly into my current role as a therapist.
Chapter Two: Expanding Relationship Expertise
Many parents I worked with during those years were also dealing with challenging issues in their relationships, and their child’s sleep was only one aspect of their family struggle. Helping people work on their most important relationships—with their children, their partners or themselves—became my natural focus. I feel passionate about supporting and guiding people toward greater connection and well-being.
So, I went back to graduate school to get my master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. My MFT helped me deepen the work I was already doing with parents and couples.
ChapterThree: Deepening My Approach
Through my graduate work, I learned about Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), which helps deeply individuals understand and connect with one another. This integrative model is the perfect fit for my work as a relationship therapist. While the focus of EFT is couples, the tenets of this model are easily woven into my work with parents and individuals.
Today, I take a systems approach to relationship therapy. I look through an attachment lens, since we all reflect the context of our current and past relationships. And, we all have the capacity to shape our relationships in new, productive ways.
ChapterFour: My Personal Relationship Journey
In the midst of all this professional growth, I—like so many others—found my life taking unforeseen turns. My marriage ended, and suddenly I was a single mom with three children. When I began looking for a new relationship, I knew I did not want to repeat the relationship patterns that had contributed to the end of my marriage. I was lucky enough to meet someone who shared this same goal.
I am a believer in practicing what you preach. In that vein, my partner and I have sat on the “other side” of the couples’ therapy couch. We mutually wanted to solidify our relationship and ensure we had the communication skills and secure bond necessary to thrive together.
Today, my partner and I have five kids (I know, right?!). We are devoted to following our family’s current, allowing for all the complicated, nuanced variables that make up our dynamic relationships.
As a whole, my personal and professional experience has offered me invaluable insight into conflict and connection. I know that it is possible to overcome relationship challenges and heal.
Afterword… and “Forward”
I derive deep enjoyment from my work as a relationship therapist. When I’m not in the office, I’m usually savoring time with my family (well, as much time as my teens will allow!). I also love to be outside. While I no longer compete in triathlons, I swim, bike and run as much as possible.
As for what lies ahead, I have learned to not try to foresee every future turn on my personal and professional paths. I anticipate many chapters have yet to be written.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING: HOW I WORK
I hold two master’s degrees, one in Marriage and Family Therapy and one in Education, with an emphasis on Special Education. I have been working with couples and families since 2005.
I have advanced couples training in Gottman Couples Training and EFT Therapy. Both these modalities are research based. Gottman’s research helps us understand—with an astoundingly high degree of accuracy—those factors which put relationships in distress. EFT is highly effective at helping couples not only get out of distress, but also maintain a sense of love and security over the long-term.
I am also trained in EMDR, an evidenced based therapeutic model for treating trauma and alleviating the symptoms of PTSD, anxiety and/or depression associated with these events.
To further develop my ability to serve clients, I trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Trauma Informed Therapy. All these approaches incorporate evidenced based therapeutic skills and combine elements of mindfulness and somatic/body awareness. They work to promote change, self-regulation, healing and growth.
Finally, the neuroscience of Attachment Theory underlies these aforementioned therapeutic modalities and significantly informs my work with couples, families and individuals. I am transparent with my clients regarding my treatment planning and ongoing work. If you have further questions about how I work, please contact me.
I have also written on the topic of ethics and couple and family therapy. I am published and if interested in reading the article, click here.
Miller B.J., Weddle R. (2018) Code of Ethics in Couple and Family Therapy. In: Lebow J., Chambers A., Breunlin D. (eds) Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy. Springer, Cham
AAMFT: American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
COAMFT: Colorado Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
CCA: Colorado Counseling Association
ICEEFT: The International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy
BCEFT: Boulder Community for Emotionally Focused Therapy
DCEFT: Denver Community for Emotionally Focused Therapy
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