Growing up in Ohio, Lauren Herman had plans to become an elementary school teacher. She moved to Nashville to earn her master’s degree from Vanderbilt, but quickly discovered that her real passion was understanding the psychology behind the children and families she was working with. “I found myself wanting answers to the real questions underlying the problems I saw,” Lauren says. “Why were the kids having behavioral problems? What was happening at home with the family?” While completing her degree, Lauren worked at The Ranch as a clinical graduate intern. After becoming a nationally certified counselor, she moved into the role of continuing care counselor and then into her current role as primary therapist for the women’s co-occurring disorders program.
An Integrative, Person-Centered Approach
Interning at The Ranch helped Lauren develop her unique therapeutic approach, which she describes as holistic and person-centered. “Humans are complex beings,” she says. “Often, if treatment focuses solely on one issue – alcoholism or an eating disorder, for example – then we miss out on addressing the other pieces that are causing problems in their lives. Clients come to us fractured; this model helps fuse those fractures.” While therapy can be an emotional, weighty process, Lauren infuses humor into her therapy sessions. Described as fun-loving, Lauren is a good listener and a strong advocate for her clients. When she isn’t at The Ranch, she can usually be found outdoors, hiking, kayaking or doing some other outdoor activity.
Expanding the Toolbox with DBT
As part of her integrative approach, Lauren uses cognitive-behavioral therapy, experiential therapy and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), among others. In her work at Creek House, she has developed a passion for DBT. She is intensively trained in DBT and integrates DBT skills into her individual and group therapy sessions. “DBT is a practical and effective way to deal with everyday problems,” Lauren says. “Sometimes we all get caught up in the stresses of life. DBT skills like mindfulness slow down our decision-making processes so we can figure out the most effective way to respond and allow us to go back to the moment of simply existing.” One concept that particularly resonates with clients, Lauren says, is dialectics – the fact that two opposing ideas can coexist. For example, clients are doing the best they can but there is still room for improvement. Therapists can meet clients where they’re at while challenging them at the same time. “For many of our clients, suicide, self-harm, substance abuse or other addictive behaviors are the only way they know how to cope,” Lauren says. “DBT expands their toolbox to include skills and concepts they can start using right away.”