Meet Dr. Karen James, Psy.D.
Surrounded by Strong Women
As a child, Karen was extremely shy but was quickly immersed among the wisdom of many strong women in her family. Surrounded by the thirteen siblings of her maternal grandmother, and all their children she was never alone. Family events were filled with exuberance and volume intensity. She found refuge at the side of her grandmother who taught her to have integrity, compassion, spirituality and most of all forgiveness.
“I remember my grandmother whispering in my ear during Sunday service, “Pay attention, we are all here to learn the same lesson.” It was there that she felt a small connection to the world, a quiet calmness. “It was my grandmother who encouraged me to ask questions, to take risks, and to have faith in life, while understanding that everyone has something of value to contribute to the world.” She realizes now that those early lessons have become the foundation in how she relates to others and herself.
A motto that Karen has lived by based on her upbringing: “I have respect for humanity. As we nurture and build our communities, we empower and enrich others, one individual at a time.”
Her Artsy Style Informs Her Work
Growing up in a big city has allowed Karen to appreciate each person for his or her own unique qualities. Diversity, as she sees it, is not just race/ ethnicity, but a way of speaking; a way of dressing, exotic foods, and the community you come from. As a clinician, she takes into consideration the diversity of values, interaction styles, and cultural expectations. Karen’s style integrates several different perspectives to form a cohesive approach; working from a foundation that primarily consists of the theory that many of our childhood experiences leading up to adulthood shapes our personalities. This theory incorporates the notion that a client’s problem may be understood as a reflection of conflicts that are unresolved from their past.
While considering the whole person in her therapy, she identifies the physical aspects of the body, as well as the mental and emotional aspects and determines how they all may contribute to a person’s problems. Karen also takes into consideration social factors, which include the environment and interactions with others. These social experiences may influence a person’s perspective and understanding of health; illness and wellness. This approach is tailored on the needs, symptoms and personality of the client. Karen strives to always have a balance in life and these theories correspond to her beliefs, values and life experiences while placing the therapist/client relationship as a central component.
Living in a fast-paced environment, education has always been an important endeavor in Karen’s life. Acquiring information from variety of venues such as science, art and nature; she applies this knowledge to the learning process. Karen has received an Associate’s Degree in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, where she learned to step out of her comfort zone and explore different aspects of herself and others. Art teachings are used in session where she combines the medium of artistic and creative expression to help the client get in touch with their emotions. Art can be a part of the healing process and allow us to see things from different internal lenses. Karen has a sense of adventure which took her from the East to the West, where she continued her pursuit of learning by entering the field of psychology. Psychology re-ignited her passion for people, culture, behaviors and the mind, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. On her path to knowledge; curiosity of the human psyche and the body; she received a Master’s Degree and Doctorate’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from the American School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University in California. There she could put her knowledge into practice.
Appreciating the Journey
Dr. Karen’s clinical interests have led her down different roads in a variety of different settings. Additionally, she has significant experience in working with adults and seniors dealing with varying degrees of trauma, as well as substance abuse, dysfunctional family issues and grief. Areas of emphasis are depression and anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, mood disorders and psychosis. She uses mindfulness-based techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, bio-distressing (tapping) and guided imagery. There are times when traditional therapy does not connect with a client and alternative approaches, interventions and strategies may be a better fit. Some examples are: using art therapy, sound therapy, aromatherapy and sand tray therapy.
Karen has a knack for helping people get through their problems as they make transitions in life. Whether it is dealing with the stress of moving across the country to start a new job or facing a new chapter in life after children are out of the home or perhaps rebuilding lost relationships with spouses, siblings, family and friends; she can assist you on your journey from childhood to adulthood and beyond.
You will find that Karen is motivated to helping people understand that they have value. She carries a genuine eagerness to help nurture and inspire people to live their best life physically, emotionally and spiritually. Karen’s experiences, training and curiosity in mental health has placed her on a journey that allows her to enter the lives of others and help them navigate the challenges and complexities they encounter. Karen also feels that information is the pathway to knowing yourself, and a bridge to help overcome obstacles in order to achieve success in wellness and life.