Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Kathryn Soule, PhD, LPC.
Dr. Soule, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Every day I get to go to work as a detective of the human mind. My client is my partner. Together we start with a puzzle to solve. How can we help them find peace of mind, be free of stress or anxiety, let go of the past, or just be happy? Together, we get to explore the mystery of what makes them think, feel, and act the way they do. We look for leads, follow the clues, and find breakthroughs together. I specialize in helping people alleviate stress, anxiety, and trauma. We find tools they can use every day, while at the same time working to solve the root of the problem to give them lasting peace of mind.
I started studying psychology because I was intrigued by the mystery of the human mind. What causes panic or anxiety when you know that you’re not in danger? How come we sometimes feel “stuck” in the past, even when we know it is long over? I got my bachelor’s degree in psychology at UT Austin and then moved to New York for a master’s in psychology at Columbia University. Eventually I returned to Texas, where I completed a PhD in counseling at Texas Tech, taught as an adjunct professor in the master’s program there, and started a private practice in Fort Worth. Along the way, I learned from experience at Austin State Hospital, Roosevelt Hospital in New York, a domestic violence shelter in Brooklyn, and several wonderful non-profit organizations in Fort Worth, The WARM Pace, The Art Station, Trauma Support Services of North Texas, and The Women’s Center.
Looking back, I realize that what I had really wanted to learn from psychology in all those years, was how to make order out of chaos. I wanted to be able to take something as complex and messy as human nature and put it into neat, predictable formulas. I had struggled with lifelong perfectionism and the anxiety that goes with it. I wanted the world to be neat and orderly and perfect so that I could be free from feeling anxious.
I once heard from a Buddhist monk that the meaning of life is to be happy. Today, I believe that lasting happiness comes from embracing what is meaningful to you, rather than avoiding what makes you anxious. Now, instead of wanting to make human nature fit a comforting mold, I’m grateful to embrace the mystery of finding happiness for each unique individual. I love working with my clients to solve the puzzle of how to alleviate their stress or anxiety, how to let go of their past, or how to give them peace of mind. Together, we put the pieces together, solve the mystery, and create the life they want.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I teach clients struggling with stress and anxiety mindfulness tools to increase peace of mind. Buddhist meditation classes taught me how to live more meaningfully in the present moment, rather than being stuck in the past or worried about the future. I discovered those classes out of necessity about 8 years ago. I was struggling through a rough time and desperate to find anything to help.
I had finished my masters at Columbia, and I was working in an emergency domestic violence shelter in Brooklyn. That job was terribly difficult, emotionally taxing, and at times even dangerous, but I loved it. I lived in a small apartment with my husband, and we were happy with the life we had made there.
Then everything changed. In 2008, when the world economy came crashing down, I was making very little money working in non-profit, and my husband was working on commission selling cars in Brooklyn. His income fell by about 50% over night, as we saw on the news that the auto industry was collapsing. Like so many people, we were struggling. Month after month, we barely kept things going. Then I found out I was pregnant. We knew something had to give. We made the sad decision to say goodbye to our lives in New York and return to our native Texas. We both quit our jobs, packed up our home, said tearful goodbyes to friends, and moved across the country with the intention of starting our family.
On Christmas Eve, I had a miscarriage. I was suddenly living in Fort Worth with no job, no baby on the way, few friends, and no direction. I was utterly lost, depressed about the life I had given up, and anxious about what to do now. Desperate to find anything that might help, I started going to Buddhist meditation classes. I learned a new way to calm and quiet my mind. I gained more acceptance for all the things that had happened that were out of my control. Gradually, I was able to live more fully in the present moment, rather than being stuck in the past. I shifted my focus to building a new and meaningful life for myself here in Texas.
I went back to school for a PhD in counseling, and started a private practice. I started sharing with clients the mindfulness techniques that had helped me through a tough time. Eventually, I started giving public lectures and teaching other therapists how to integrate mindfulness tools into their work with clients as well. Today, I still use mindfulness tools every day in my own life and with my clients. So many of us miss the life that is unfolding around us because we are caught up in frantic world and the whirlwind of our own thoughts. I think of mindfulness as a way of life, a way of being fully present in your life as it’s happening now. Living in the present can alleviate stress, calm the mind, and add a sense of meaning or purpose to the life we are constantly creating around us.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Soule Therapy story. Tell us more about the business.
Several years ago, I discovered EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), and it was a complete game-changer. I was already using mindfulness tools to help people alleviate their anxiety and stress in the present. EMDR gave me a way to go after the root cause of anxiety so it wouldn’t be triggered the same way in the first place. I use EMDR to help clients develop lasting peace of mind and freedom from overwhelming anxiety.
Arguably, based on research, EMDR is the gold standard therapy for PTSD and getting past traumatic events. It also works well for attacking the root of stress or anxiety related to things like losing a loved one, having a miscarriage, panic attacks, abuse, life transitions, or fears like flying or public speaking. People will often say to me something like, “Intellectually, I know I’m not really in danger, but I still feel anxious,” or “I know it wasn’t my fault, but I still feel guilty,” or “I know I’m a worthwhile person, but I still have this nagging feeling that I’m not good enough.” EMDR helps bridge that gap so that someone can actually feel deeply what they already know to be true. When you can really feel safe or really feel that you’re a good and worthwhile person, you can finally have peace of mind.
When I first used EMDR with a client, it almost seemed like magic to me. I saw clients make astounding progress in a short amount of time. As the clinician, you start by having the client focus on an upsetting memory or event, and then follow your finger back and forth to create lateral eye movements. I saw clients quickly process through their emotions, let go of the past, and come to a sense of peace and calm. As a therapist, I was used to trying to help people through my brilliant insights and observations. It seemed incredibly mysterious, and frankly humbling, that my clients could make so much progress from this curious process.
So how does EMDR work? It is believed that EMDR rewires the brain. In normal talk therapy, we work hard on coping skills and new thinking patterns so you can close the door on things that used to bother you. In EMDR, we open the door and clean it out so that you’re not affected anymore. Scientists believe the eye movements mimic what happens during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. When you dream, your eyes move back and forth as you are processing memories from the day into long-term memory. It is believed that upsetting memories are stored in the sensory part of the brain, which is why you can almost “relive” them. You can still “see” everything, “hear” everything. During EMDR, it is believed that we are using the brain’s memory processing system to integrate memories so they are stored and connected to other areas of the brain. They become “unstuck,” and part of a larger narrative. The result of the memory becoming integrated is that the emotional part of your brain and the cognitive part can finally agree. You can feel the things you intellectually know are true. You can finally really feel at peace or feel like a good person, and truly let go of the past.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I met my husband Charlie in Fort Worth just a few months before I was planning on moving to New York to start graduate school at Columbia. It felt like bad luck that we met just before I’d move across the country. We decided we would just enjoy the few months we had together before I left, and that would be it. When I moved, we said our goodbyes and wished each other well.
A few months later, I came home for Christmas. He came to see me, and he told me he didn’t want to give up on us. He said, “I know we only dated a few months, but I don’t wanna look back and wonder what could have been. I’ve decided I’m moving to New York.” I thought he was crazy. He didn’t know a single person there, and had never even been to New York before. A few weeks later, with no job and no place to live, he boarded a plane with a one-way ticket and just two suitcases. Once he arrived, he started knocking on doors all over the city. I admired how he kept going, kept trying, not accepting no for an answer. I had been doubtful, but I was incredibly impressed when after a month he had a place to live, a well-paying job, more friends than me, and was even singing in a world-class choir in Soho. While I was living uptown going to school, he had quickly carved out his own life, living off Wall Street in a Korean couple’s living room and selling cars in an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn.
About a year later, luck came calling once again when he was invited be a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. I was anxiously sitting in the studio audience. When he used the phone-a-friend option, I heard my dad’s voice fill the studio to give him the right answer in the last seconds. On his final question, he decided to walk away. To my absolute shock, he announced on national television, “I’m not 100% sure of the answer. I’d like to walk away here because $8000 is enough for a nice engagement ring.” We had never even talked about getting married. The studio audience gasped, and a cameraman sitting next to me swung the camera in my face to capture my stunned silence. A few months later, Charlie proposed officially on the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset.
As far as my business goes, I feel lucky to have such a supportive husband. He’s been my biggest support and cheerleader as I’ve gone through so many years of schooling, started a business, and developed myself professionally. For 10 years now, he has worked so hard for us to enable me to go to work every day doing what I love: working as a detective of the mind in search of happiness.
- $100 for 50-minute individual counseling session
- Address: 4305 S Hulen St.
- Website: www.souletherapy.com
- Phone: 6825564593
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/souletherapy/
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/soule-therapy-fort-worth