About Ellen

I never imagined I would find myself working in the mental health field, in fact, I had designed a trajectory that would cultivate my fascination with mind and brain, yet keep me far away and disconnected from other people’s deepest vulnerabilities.

So, I resolved to become a neuroscience researcher. From the time I was in high school, I knew I wanted to be a scientist working in a laboratory and I had a 10-year plan that would get me there. I moved out at 17, rearing to enter the world of academia.

I was lucky to enjoy the soft transition into adulthood that my college provided. I was surrounded by and participated in communities large and small. I had mentors and advisors helping me curate an interdisciplinary curriculum and guiding me on how to prepare for graduate school and the career I aspired to. I was in a place where I could explore my identity with people my age doing the same. And ultimately having the support, infrastructure and financial aid from the university aided me in developing a sense of independence. I learned how to balance school and work and hobbies and social life and imagined it could only get better from there.

After I obtained my bachelor’s degree with a focus on neuroplasticity and degenerative diseases, I began working in a laboratory researching pharmaceuticals for degenerative diseases. I moved across the country, far from my family, and really started to feel like an adult. While there, I began to encounter professional, personal, and emotional challenges that I had never anticipated. But, I was strong-headed and dead-set on preserving my image of independence and success. So I drifted away from my support system and began hiding my struggles. In the lab, animal research was beginning to take a toll on me, and I decided that for graduate school, I would seek a lab less focused on that.

I was accepted into a doctoral neuroscience program, and while I was stoked that I had gotten into graduate school, my hidden struggles and my resistance to acknowledging them were mounting. Two years in, I realized that I couldn’t focus on my research and had to focus on my healing so I decided to go on leave from my program for a year.

During this time, I took a job as wilderness instructor - a job I didn’t even know existed. I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into, but I appreciated the routine and the strength and endurance I was building. I was encouraged to talk about my feelings and experiences, a task not emphasized in academia. At some point during all of this, the pandemic hit, and I had to make a decision to either return to my Ph.D. program or completely reassess my life trajectory and do something else. Like many people in 2020, I decided to do something else.

I started a new journey in a field new to me. And while both my past and present work focus on the mind, that is where the similarities end. After working in the woods with adolescents for a year, I moved on to working as a mentor at a boarding school while also becoming a neurofeedback technician. While this work was gratifying in ways, I became frustrated with the parameters of the programs.

The students were so varied and unique, yet they were confined to the same prescribed path within the programs. While they progressed and learned how to navigate the program well, I wondered how well these tactics would serve them in the real world. So when I was given the opportunity to work with young adults who were entering the real world and who wanted guidance specific to their unique journey, I felt like I had found a match.

I never imagined that I would be here, but here I am.

I understand what it’s like to start over, to overcome, to do the difficult thing over and over again until it gets easier. I hope that I can share that with my clients while getting to know them and fostering an appreciation for what drives them, and what matters to them.

Once at the climbing gym with some clients, a climbing instructor asked us how we all ended up in Asheville. “Failure,” I joked, and our clients laughed and agreed that this relatable feeling of having failed played a part in their journey as well.


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