ELIZABETH DROPPERS, MSMFT, LMFT
When I think about my journey to becoming a therapist, I have to start in high school and an elective psychology class. I don’t remember much of what the teacher taught, but I remember feeling fascinated, like I was seeing behind the curtain on the innerworkings of the mind and learning what compelled myself and others. While pursuing a BA in Psychology at Hope College, social and behavioral psychology classes enthralled me. In one lecture, a professor passed around real newspaper clippings for couples’ 50th anniversaries to demonstrate the impact of social mirroring. In each picture, the couples looked more like siblings than spouses—smiling in similar ways, wearing similar clothes and glasses, and even sometimes having the same style of haircut. In intimate relationships, we mirror one another to connect, and thus become more like loved ones over time. All of that to say, by the time I graduated college, I was applying to graduate schools.
Though I enrolled at Fuller Graduate School as a doctoral student, I quickly discerned not needing a doctorate to achieve my professional goal of working directly with clients. A lot of psychologists go on to teach at universities and do research, both of which didn’t capture my interest. I switched to a masters level Marriage and Family Therapy program. One of the greatest opportunities I had in graduate school was participating in a live Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy practicum. While a co-therapist and I met with a couple in one room, our graduate professors observed our session from another room and gave live feedback through an earpiece. This learning opportunity taught me so much about providing experiential therapy, but I will admit the stress of doing live therapy in front of professors ruined Wednesdays for an entire year!
Though I no longer practice EFT, I’m grateful for its introduction to the power experiential therapy. Experiential therapy refers to modalities that guide clients through a live, in-the-moment process. Instead of talking about the problem and maybe offering logical solutions, experiential modalities help us directly engage the content. For example, when you talk about conflict with your partner, where do you feel that in or around your body? Experiential models have methods for working with emotions/thoughts/feeling/parts in a live way.
After waving goodbye to sunny California and returning to Michigan, I sought counseling for myself as I built my career. In my opinion, therapists should do their own mental health work, throughout their careers but especially in the beginning. Not everyone believes that, but I really do. Though it wasn’t intentional, I began working with an Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapist, and it was transformational. After a couple years of being a client, I sought IFS Level One Training, individual and group IFS consultation and submitted recordings of a live IFS session to demonstrate competency and earn certification in the model. Maintaining the status of a Certified IFS Clinician requires ongoing training, and though I do these trainings partially to stay certified, I also keep returning to IFS trainings and resources because of their genuine helpfulness, for me and clients.
Health of the Therapist
Anxiety and Depression
Grief and Loss
Conflict with Family of Origin
Issues in Relationships
Typical Client Populations
I exclusively provide individual telehealth counseling to adult clients. In addition to working with women, I also treat many mental health professionals.
What my credentials mean:
MSMFT – Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy
LMFT – Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the State of Michigan
Level Two IFS – Completed Intensive Level One and Two Trainings in the Internal Family Systems Model
Certified IFS Clinician – Demonstrated proficiency in using the IFS model