About Heidi Ehrlich, MA, LMHC, NCC, CFRC

Heidi is a licensed mental health counselor in Washington State, a Washington State approved supervisor, a Nationally Certified Counselor, and an adjunct instructor in the Counselor Education Department at Gonzaga University. Heidi obtained her bachelor’s degree in Applied Developmental Psychology in 2004 from Eastern Washington University and her Master’s Degree in Community Counseling from Gonzaga University in 2010. Heidi is currently pursuing a Ph.D in Counselor Education and Supervision from Capella University. Heidi is passionate about participating in community suicide prevention and postvention, helping people heal from trauma and traumatic grief (e.g. suicide loss, homicide loss, child loss), assisting people with healing from the impacts of childhood adversities, and helping people with integrating grief and loss in a meaningful way. Heidi facilitates individual and group counseling through her private practice, and she offers a free support group for Suicide loss survivors called SOLOS. Heidi is certified in EMDR, holds a grief educator certification, and is a certified first responder counselor.

What Heidi wants you to know about how she approaches counseling:

Heidi believes:

  • Our relationships and experiences significantly impact how we see ourselves and others.
  • Wellness stems from healthy connections with others and a sense of belonging.
  • Safety in relationships, meeting our basic needs, and attending to the whole person are necessary for our health.
  • Mental health is part of our overall health as the brain is a critical organ necessitating ongoing attention and care.
  • Understanding our brain health is an important part of taking care of our mental health.
  • Our environments, relationships, and genetics all shape our brain development.
  • Being aware of our choices and how we can positively impact one another is important to our well-being.
  • Emotional intelligence can grow throughout the lifespan.
  • Counseling is a collaborative process between the client and the counselor.
  • Counseling is individualized to the unique needs of each client.
  • Sometimes, adults carry old wounds from the past that influence how we see things in the present. Healing involves recognizing how we interpret past experiences, how those interpretations impact our beliefs about self/others in the present, and creating new ways of thinking and being that promote our wellness.
  • People feel more peace and contentment when they are aware of their values and are living in harmony with those values.
  • A healthy support system is an important part of maintaining health.
  • Boundaries in the therapeutic relationship are important for the relationship to remain safe and therapeutic. Clients may feel confused about the relationship, viewing it as a friendship. While it is a very close relationship, it differs from friendship because there are not typically interactions with one another outside of counseling sessions. Also, the focus remains on the client’s needs. That being said, the therapeutic relationship is sacred and provides a secure base from which clients can process challenging issues and painful emotions.
  • Goal setting is important in counseling so that the client and the counselor can evaluate whether or not the strategies chosen are helpful. Goals need to be reevaluated and adjusted on an ongoing basis.
  • Counseling interventions need to be developmentally appropriate. Development happens across the human life span, and it is important to consider the developmental context when identifying goals and interventions. Working with children and adolescents often involves experiential techniques and/or play, which helps meet them where they are in their physical, emotional, and cognitive development. Involving family in counseling is also important in child and adolescent counseling.
  • It is essential that the client wants to participate in counseling. Each person has a different readiness level for counseling, and forcing counseling is rarely successful. If a person feels unsure about being ready to start counseling, then it is vital to take the time to explore that further to help with deciding whether it is the right time.
  • Counseling takes time because healing, growth, and change take time.
  • Counseling is not meant to be forever. Celebrating growth and achievements through graduating is an important part of integrating the work done.
  • The door is always open. Graduating does not mean you cannot come back if you need to in the future. Because wellness is a lifelong journey, it is expected there may be other times when you need support again.
  • Providing ethical and culturally attuned services is a top priority. Heidi works from the client’s cultural frame and allows the client to lead the process in a way that honors their values, beliefs, and practices. Heidi uses Relational Cultural Theory which is built on mutual empathy in the relationship, repairing any ruptures in the relationship when disconnection occurs, and encouraging authentic and vulnerable sharing.
  • Heidi is not the best counselor for everyone who comes in for services. Sometimes, a person’s issues or needs are outside the scope of Heidi’s training, and sometimes, the client may not feel that Heidi’s personality or style is the right fit. In those instances, Heidi is glad to provide referrals and support in doing a warm handoff to another provider who may better meet the client’s needs.
  • Grief is a lifelong experience. There is no “getting over” death and loss. We can learn how to carry our grief and find a path through our grief to continue to find meaning in life.
  • To assist clients with developing and working towards their goals, Heidi uses an integrative approach that includes a variety of theories, models, and techniques. The choice of strategies stems from providing clients with information on which approaches may be most helpful given their presenting concerns. The following are the main approaches utilized by Heidi:
  • Adlerian/ Individual Psychology
  • Attachment Theory
  • Interpersonal Neurobiology
  • Interpersonal Theory of Suicide
  • Non-Violent Communication Skills
  • Person-Centered/ Humanistic Theory
  • Relational Cultural Theory
  • Social and Developmental Constructivism
  • Existential Theory
  • Cognitive Theory
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • CBT+ Depression/Anxiety/Behaviors (for children/teens)
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
  • Common Elements Treatment Approach (CETA)
  • Restorative Retelling Model for Violent Death
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Non-Violent Communication
  • Experiential Therapies
  • Sandtray Therapy integrated into CBT or EMDR
  • Play therapy integrated into EMDR or CBT
  • Complicated Grief Therapy
  • Techniques from Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy integrated into EMDR or CBT.
  • Techniques from Compassion Focused Therapy
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