Dara Crawley, LMSW
“The people of the world, all of them tend to think only about what we cannot share. But our brains are all the same. We are the same people.” – Sailor Moon (by Naoko Takeuchi)
University of Maryland School of Social Work, 2019/Clinical/Macro Concentration and Behavioral Health Specialization
Accepting new clients.
What’s therapy with me like? My top three clinical interests include working with individuals practicing consensual non-monogamy and BDSM, creative professionals, and individuals experiencing depression and anxiety, utilizing motivational Interviewing (MI), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
How we think influences the foundations of our behavior. There’s no reason red on a stop sign means stop, but we’ve accepted that symbol and today without ever thinking about it hard we’ll stop at a crosswalk or red light. We know red = stop. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) acknowledges these instant thought processes as much as our longer ones are formed over experiences, through beliefs, and reinforcement. Then CBT asks us to find alternative views, responses, and to break out of maladaptive behaviors that don’t serve us. It’s a way for us to fully explore both the origins around our perspectives and to ask ourselves “Is this the only way to see it?” or “What can we do to respond?” With that basis you can build therapy sessions to be adaptable and diverse so that the individual isn’t just lost in a series of steps. Building on that is my love of motivational interviewing (MI). The spirit of MI is partnership between the therapist and the client. Through that partnership the therapist helps the client recognize what truly matters to them, and where they want to make change. My job isn’t to tell people how to live their lives and MI recognizes that alongside the autonomy you have. Every person who comes onto my screen or into my office has their freedom, individuality, and autonomy accepted because that is what every person deserves. People often think therapists’ jobs are to say what would work for our clients, but our job is to highlight what is working, what doesn’t seem to be working, and help build on what clients feel would work better for them. After all, no therapist can unilaterally say what is and is not wellness for every person. We’re educated in knowing what tends to work, but for each of us contentment looks a bit different.
The last modality that informs my practice is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) because granting ourselves more compassion, more kindness, and acknowledging our achievements allows us to build towards wellness instead of tearing it down. Acceptance is about acknowledging and responding to what is, whether it’s acknowledging the boundaries we need, acknowledging we’re actually ambivalent about change, or accepting what others do. Acceptance isn’t about agreement. When we accept what is then we can commit to changing what we can control.
How I’ve kept learning… I’m a big believer in the power of good books, good mentorship, and good educational conferences. I try to continue learning through both other professionals and their research, but also from individuals’ lived experiences. In the past year I’ve been pursuing independent learning focusing on anxiety and panic attack management strategies, seeking consultation support from other providers, and really trying to make sure I’m able to bring a diverse toolbox to my clients.
Who do I work with? Young adults (17 and up), adults, and middle age. Individuals, including individuals adapting to non-monogamy or accepting kink and other aspects of sexual identity, individuals transitioning into education, creative professionals. I want to expand on my experience with couples/polycules but feel I need to educate myself in that area more.
My impacting identities are… I am a nerdy, bisexual, African American, ciswoman, who practices alternative spirituality and is versed in alternative relationship structures. I was born in North Carolina and spent the first quarter of my life in that environment navigating across class, racial divides, and growing up in a household where my parents experienced segregation firsthand and instilled a knowledge of systemic oppression to prepare me for the world. Yet I was raised to embrace discovery, to learn, and try new things with an open heart and mind. While I am not the first in my family to attend college, I am one of the first to attend predominantly white institutions for university, which has shaped my understanding of how we all can adapt, thrive, and cope with the similarities and differences that cross age, culture, race, and religions. Outside of that I’m a giant nerd and participate in live action roleplay (LARPs), cosplay, and participate in alternative fashion communities ranging from history bounding to Japanese street fashion to goth. I have always been somewhat of an outsider and have great compassion for those other outsiders in our society. Life has taught me that even the outsiders don’t have to be alone, and this has shaped who I’ve become as a person and practitioner.
I feel allied/aware/part of/informed/knowledgeable about… I consider myself knowledgeable of ethically non-monogamous communities, the kink/BDSM communities, and the LGBTAIA+ community.
I am the best fit for a client who… wants to have open dialogue with their provider, is interested in talk therapy, wants to and is excited to delve deep into themselves, who is exploring their identity/orientation/self expression, who is trying to identify what next steps to take professionally, who is in the process of trying to accept and discover parts of themselves, and who doesn’t want a provider to just insert interventions or advice. I’m a great fit for those who want a provider who sees them holistically and is willing to listen to client’s unique spiritual, sexual, and personal experiences. Also, I’ve always had a good rapport with fellow nerds and geeks who are seeking to build wellness and navigate stress in healthy ways.
I am not a good fit for clients who… is not ready to talk about their motivations, beliefs, or life experiences. I am not a good fit for someone who espouses strongly prejudicial views towards African Americans, other races, or ethnicities. I am not a good fit for someone who is not comfortable with occasional use of swears or humor. I am not yet a good fit for clients looking for extensive trauma focused therapy or someone who is seeking highly structured sessions or regimented out of session assignments. While I embrace assignments and out of session work, I do not provide this every session.
What makes me unique? As a therapist, I combine my understanding of society with an intense curiosity to get to know where my clients are coming from, so that I can help them understand factors within and outside of themselves that may impact their wellness. As a talk therapist, I also highly value engaging in natural conversations where clients feel like they can be their whole selves spiritually, emotionally, and earnestly.
The Practical Stuff
What insurances do I accept? I am in network with BCBS and Evernorth (previously known as Cigna).
Do I offer telehealth or in person sessions? During COVID, I am offering teletherapy. After COVID concerns lessen, I’d be open to doing in person session on a case by case basis.
Am I taking on new clients? Yes!
The Fun Stuff
Did you know…I am a diversity editor and diversity consultant for authors, roleplaying game developers, and program developers.
Any pets? None.
What I’ve Learned Lately
- Effective Communication Development, Relias Learning Systems, May 2019
- Overview of Psychiatric Medications for Children/Adolescents, Relias Learning Systems, June 2019
- Overview of Psychiatric Medications for Paraprofessionals, Relias Learning Systems, June 2019
- Best Practices for Delivering Telehealth, Relias Learning Systems, April 2020
- Sexuality and Gender Training, Behavioral Health System Baltimore, June 2020
- Suicide Prevention from 3rd Life Matters-Harford County Suicide Prevention Conference, Ashley Everything for Recovery, May 2021
- An Overview of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Relias learning Systems, November 2021
- Best Practices for Behavioral Health in Child Welfare, Relias Learning Systems, November 2021
- Mandatory Reporter Training, Baltimore Child Abuse Center, March 2022
- Working More Effectively with the LGBTQ+ Community, Relias Academy, March 2022
- HIPAA and Behavioral Health, Relias Academy, March 2022
- Best Practices in Suicide Screening and Assessment, Relias Academy, March 2022
- Legal and Ethical Standards of Care in Behavioral Health, Relias Academy, March 2022
- Understanding and Addressing Racial Trauma in Behavioral Health, Relias Academy, March 2022
- Anti-racism Training 3 Month Training, Dr. Nathalie Edmond, March 2022
- Prevention and Treatment of Anxiety, Depression, and Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among College Students, G.M. Rydberg-Cox, LSCSW, April 2022
- Grief, Bereavement, and Coping with Loss, Free State Social Work, May 2022
- New Techniques for Grief Therapy: Bereavement and Beyond, Robert A. Neimeyer, June 2022
- The Truth About Unwanted Sexual Arousal, Emily Nagoski, PhD, June 2022
- Mastering Differential Diagnosis with the DSM-5-TR: A System-Based Approach, Margaret L. Bloom PhD, July 2022
- Gender Affirming Surgery Letter Writing Training, Tavi Hawn, LCSW-C, July 2022
How to Give me A Buzz
The best way to contact me is…via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.