Hi, my name is Peg Shippert
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor in Boulder, Colorado. I believe that when you are seeking counseling, it is very important to find a counselor that feels like a good fit. So, let me try to answer some of the questions that you might have when trying to figure that out.
Why I do this work
To me the most interesting thing in the world has always been trying to figure out what makes people tick. Especially in terms of how we relate to each other. At first, that interest was mainly focused on my own relationships, which from a very early age were clearly divided by gender. I’m now passionate about understanding how we are all harmed when women and girls are seen as less important than men and boys. I see my work as helping to repair that harm.
In my professional journey, there was one moment of clarity that I’ll never forget. Back in 2002 I was volunteering as a rape hotline counselor, and one night I was called to the police station to be a victim advocate. At the station, the officers took me aside and explained how unhelpful the victim was being and what info they wanted me to help them get. As they introduced me to the obviously distraught young woman, she threw her arms around me and buried her head in my shoulder and sobbed. I held her until she was ready to speak, then we figure out what she needed (some Kleenex, some water, to not talk to the police right then, and to be home where she’d feel safer). As I stood outside the station in the dark, watching her drive away, I felt a clear, sharp anger at how little attention the police had paid to her needs, and a gratitude that I was able to lessen her pain in a small way. Since that night, I’ve worked hard to get better and better at helping women and girls figure out what they need and find it.
How I Work
Many people who have survived awful experiences fear that therapy will open the door to overwhelming sensations and feelings that they will not be able to handle. I'm here to make sure that doesn't happen. The first thing we will do is start developing some tools to help you manage your reactions, memories, and emotions more effectively. Using mindfulness skills, guided visualizations, and other tools, you will learn how you can quickly regulate your nervous system when you become anxious or triggered. Even when you start to feel like you have more control over what might happen if you talk about difficult things our work will continue to tap into your internal and external resources, and develop -- as gradually as necessary -- your ability to tolerate and manage working with what happened to you. Together we will find a comfortable rhythm that allows us to resolve your past safely. Throughout our work, you will be in the driver’s seat. If you don't want to talk about something, I will absolutely respect that. From the first minute, we will work to create a strong, safe relationship so you can feel supported and respected and believed.
You can be sure that I will believe what you tell me about your experience, even if it hasn't made a lot of sense to you or others in your life. Many stories of traumatic experiences don’t make sense, because people don’t create linear, coherent memories at those times. Typically our brains are focused on the job of surviving, instead of making sense of things. But I will 100% trust that your story is true, in whatever way you can tell it now. In our work together, you will make sense out of it, and then determine what meaning it will hold for you.
I believe that there is more than one way to make a cake, and therapy works best when there are choices about how to proceed. For example, some people really connect with the idea of viewing their personality as a collection of parts and talking directly to the different parts (the Internal Family Systems approach). To others, that feels contrived, and they prefer to simply talk about the current events in their lives. We can explore different approaches, to find one(s) well suited to your concerns and your style. I frequently employ EMDR therapy, Internal Family Systems, Animal Assisted Counseling, somatic (body) and mindfulness tools, as well as conventional talk therapy.
What I'm like
I’m the kind of person who sticks with what I’ve decided to do, no matter what obstacles come along. In other words, I don’t give up easily! I’m also told that I’m friendly, smart, and creative, and good at seeing things from multiple perspectives. In other words, I’m open to (and I love) learning from other people. That means that in our work together, we’ll spend a lot of time exploring what’s going on inside you in various ways. I love to work with people who share my interest in what makes them tick. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be good at figuring that out now. It’s something we’ll figure out together. My clients also tell me that I sometimes have a motherly vibe, which helps them feel safe and cared for.
My education & experience
While I have the appropriate degrees and training for the work I do, I feel that the most important things I’ve learned have come from specific life experiences. Both cancer and rape have deeply affected my personal life. I have also spent a lot of time volunteering in various counseling-related capacities. This has exposed me to a lot of people who have been through different bad experiences, each with their own unique responses and needs. The lessons I've learned and the connections I've formed with these people fuel my passion for my work.
My formal training includes an M.A. degree in Counseling from Regis University. I am constantly continuing my education in helping survivors of awful experiences. Some of the trainings I have received include:
Intensive Trauma Treatment training with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.
The Role of Rhythm and Action in Brain Development, Attachment and Trauma training with Pat Ogden and Bessel van der Kolk.
The Neurobiology of Trauma training with Janine D'Annibale.
Trauma therapy training from Moving to End Sexual Assault and Mental Health Partners of Boulder and Broomfield Counties.
Grief counselor training from HospiceCare of Boulder and Broomfield Counties (now TRU Community Care).
Training on anxiety and the brain by Margaret Wehrenberger.
Training on canine-assisted therapy by Professional Therapy Dogs of Colorado (Carri King-Bussard and Pat Blocker).
How I believe therapy works
I think that at first, people feel better because we spend time developing tools and skills to manage big memories, thoughts, reactions and emotions, and to soothe your nervous system. I think of this as the “building basic safety and control” step. I find that most people have to know how to stop working with big difficult experiences before they’re ready to start.
As therapy continues, I think my clients are able to make more profound changes through the therapeutic and healing relationship that we build together and their increasing ability to reflect on and understand the difficult parts of their lives. As these components develop, I think creating a vision of a positive future and finding ways to work toward it become critically important.
When I'm not being a counselor, you can usually find me with my husband, daughter and pets at our home in Boulder, Colorado. We have a bit of a menagerie, with permanent residents including one dog, one cat and eight chickens! I also spend as much time as I can in my vegetable garden (with and without the chickens to help). I love to ride my bike, swim, do yoga and Pilates and spend time in the mountains near Boulder.