Therapist Spotlight: Kate Ernstrom, MSW, LCSW

Kate is a psychotherapist and Director of Clinical Operations at Wildflower. Kate earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Cornell University and a Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from Loyola University, Chicago. She has extensive training in treating mood and anxiety disorders as well as trauma through evidence-based practices, and brings to Wildflower a wealth of clinical and leadership experience. Read Kate’s full bio here

What inspired you to pursue a career as a psychotherapist?

I have always been interested in stories about people and human behavior. As a little kid I have many distinct memories of walking around with my nose in a book completely fascinated and engrossed by the stories that can to life before my eyes. This love of stories transformed into something more as I took my first psychology class in high school, and fell in love with the science that devoted itself to illuminating the intricacies behind human behavior. After this first class everything felt like a very natural progression of one step after the next. I went on to study Social Psychology in College, spent some time contemplating the idea of a research career, and ultimately decided that pursuing a career as a psychotherapist would allow me to combine most all of my favorite things – stories, human behavior, science, research, and human connection.

At Wildflower, you are Director of Clinical Operations and also a therapist on the team. What parts of each role do you find most satisfying?

In a way in both my role as Director of Clinical Operations as well as my role a therapist the most satisfying part of both components is the relationships with my clients and my fellow team members. As Director of Clinical Operations I enjoy helping people connect with their passions, as well as watching people learn and grow to deepen their therapeutic practice, and become even more effective therapists. As a therapist, I feel so much joy and fulfillment as I journey with my clients on their path towards personal growth and recovery. It is such an honor to be a part of my clients’ journeys, and it is without a doubt the most satisfying part of my work.

How would you describe your therapeutic approach?

I would say my therapeutic approach is warm, welcoming, empathetic, with a touch of humor, and a strong background in evidenced based treatment modalities that focus on a blend of coping skills, mindfulness, and unconditional positive regard. I work to adjust my style and treatment modalities to best meet whatever my clients needs are at the time.

Why do you believe that psychotherapy can help?

Psychotherapy works to create insight and awareness around what it is we wish to change, as well as create intentionality around how it is we wish to go about that very change. I believe a huge part about why psychotherapy works is because it is like holding a mirror up to yourself, and fully seeing yourself – warts and all. With that awareness comes the ability to make lasting sustainable changes to your life in order to create the life that you want to live.

What are some of your specialties and what drew you to them?

I feel particularly passionate about working with mood and anxiety disorders, as well as working with folks struggling with relationship concerns as well as life transitions or parenting concerns. Since joining Wildflower I have also developed a passion for treating and working with folks in all areas surrounding parental mental health including infertility, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and transitions to parenthood. I have extensive training in treating mood and anxiety disorders as well as trauma through a variety of evidenced-based practices including Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy, Radically Open Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to help facilitate personal growth and sustainable change.

What is one thing about psychotherapy you wish everyone knew?

Psychotherapy can be a powerful act of self care. You don’t necessarily have to wait until you’re overwhelmed and too stressed out to effectively function in your day to day life to give therapy a try. You might even find that therapy can be even more effective in creating the life that you want to live once the more serious symptoms that motivated you to walk through the door initially start to subside.

What is your motto or personal mantra?

I oscillate back and forth from “I’m doing the best I can” (a little self compassion practice), and “Just keep swimming” (a la Dori from Finding Nemo – for some light hearted motivation). I love finding mantras of affirmations that are grounding, compassionate, and motivating for myself in the moment.

What are your favorite self-care activities?

I love self care! Self care to me depends so very much on how I’m feeling in any given moment. If I’m feeling more energized I enjoy going for runs (when it’s warm out!) with my overly enthusiastic dog. If I’m wanting to take some time to regroup, and center myself I love to curl up with a good book and a warm cup of tea. I also really enjoy just observing and being in nature – whether that’s watching tree branches sway in the wind or the buzzing of bees in a garden or stomping on crunchy leaves in the fall.

What are some of your passion projects or interests?

I am on an ongoing quest to learn how to quilt and knit. I have taken a brief hiatus for the past year or so, but I’m committing to picking them both up, and restarting my journey. I also genuinely love learning how to deepen and expand my practice as a psychotherapist – whether that’s reading new books or attending trainings or learning from my colleagues – I love any opportunity to learn and grow.