Who Am I ?
Eileen Vandergrift, PhD Psychologist
My name is Eileen Vandergrift… I am a person who after 62 years on the planet, and 36 years in the seat of a psychologist, can find nothing more hopeful, challenging, beautiful, difficult and astonishing than the effort we all make to inhabit our stories.
Sometimes our stories make us bigger, sometimes they keep us small, often they organize our understandings of who we can be and occasionally they deform us. Whether we work with them explicitly, or experience ourselves as characters in stories we don’t even recognize, our stories can be our greatest teachers and legacies.
Whoever we aim to be, wherever we set our sites, whatever we achieve or fall short of achieving, the stories we are told about ourselves and the stories we come to believe in as a result of them, shape us. Having some greater authorship of the lives we call our own is an important goal for me in my work and in my life.
The other stuff:
I have a PhD in Psychology (Duquesne University) and I am licensed to practice in the States of Colorado and Pennsylvania. My doctoral training was in Existential-Phenomenological Psychology and my research used qualitative methods (stories, in short). Early on, I taught part-time (Duquesne University) and then full-time (Point Park College) while establishing a small private practice.
Eventually, I established a full time Private Practice (primarily in Individual Psychotherapy). I had two beautiful children and I continued to train in many methods of treatment that offered me ways to expand my sense of the necessity for exploring and growing people’s stories. I found that encouraging a deeper and fuller awareness of the ways our narratives advanced, or blocked, our growth was essential to moving forward.
Over time, I developed my understanding of the the “stories” that anchored Psychodynamic Theories, Body Psychotherapy Theories, Object Relations Theories and Developmental Theories.
I organized my sense of purpose in the office, around my appreciation for the many lives we can have in our one life when we nurture stories that are central to our own core experiences.
My interest in loss and the value of growing stories was born of necessity. The losses I have experienced in my life (and the one’s I have been privileged to move through with people in my work) have brought me closer than I had once imagined possible, to growing through grief and finding larger and larger stories to inhabit.
Eileen Vandergrift, PhD / Fort Collins, Colorado / Grief Therapy / Stories of Loss