Learn more about our clinician, Ashley Starnes, MS, ALMFT
1. What inspired you to enter this field? My parents started couples therapy when I was in high school and their relationship completely changed in a way that altered our family dynamics positively. I started to become more curious about psychology in undergrad and realized that I enjoyed being able to connect with and attempt to understand others. Once I found the graduate program I was interested in, the rest was history!
2. Where has been your favorite place to travel and why? I lived in Japan for high school due to my dad being in the military and had the opportunity to travel across the country to play basketball. The Japanese people and culture is unlike any other I have ever experienced in that they are extremely kind, humble, and hard-working. Some of my favorite areas that I visited were Tokyo, Miyajima, Kyoto, and Okinawa!
3. Do you currently hold any specialties or certificates? Or are there any you would like to work towards getting? I have a certificate in advanced systemic multicultural counseling which gives me the training and skills to work with minority populations of various kinds. I am interested in possibly receiving training in EMDR as well.
4. What is your favorite think about living in Chicago? My favorite thing about living in Chicago is that there are unlimited options of things to do! I also really love the green space and nature that the city has to offer which creates a nice break from the big city feeling. I remember first moving to Chicago and being overwhelmed while walking on the lakeshore trail and seeing physical activities of almost every kind and feeling grateful for the preservation to do it.
5. What are some tools you use to decompress? I love journaling, cooking, walking, spending time with my cat, talking to friends and family, and watching new shows to decompress. These tools help me to relax and focus on gaining clarity on what I’m feeling at the moment.
6. Do you have any mentors? Who inspires you and why? I have always looked to teachers as being some of my greatest mentors and people who have inspired me. This includes high school teachers, professors in undergrad and grad school, clinicians that I shadowed in training, and the clinicians I have the privilege of working with. I continue to gain insights on how to improve different parts of myself both as a therapist and a person in general!
7. How would you recommend a client prepare for a session? I would first say that it’s completely normal to feel nervous before starting therapy! I would recommend that a client write down a few reasons that they are attending therapy and what they would like to achieve. I often encourage clients to journal in general to become more aware of their internal dialogue, progress, emotions they’re feeling, and just for general processing.
8. How do you keep up to date on industry trends and news? I try to continuously update myself on new practices and trends through academic readings, training, and consults. The field of therapy is constantly changing as we become more aware and up to date on research and necessary treatment!
9. What are you most looking forward to now that it’s fall? My favorite part of fall in Chicago is the colorful foliage and holiday events that are hosted! Unfortunately, it’s now becoming colder and darker out and the leaves are falling haha, but I appreciate trying to incorporate more cozy acts of self-care.