Melissa Harrison, MA
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #104310
The Short Version:
I decided to become a therapist because I’ve been in a lot of therapy. It transformed me, I’ve seen it change my clients, and I believe it can do the same for you. I know how hard life can feel. How difficult experiences in the past can impact you now. I’ve been through the fire. And I know firsthand that:
Change is possible.
Happiness is possible.
I’m here to help you discover that, too.
Going through this process led me to want to facilitate it for others. I left my former career as an actor and got an M.A. in Counseling Psychology at Saybrook University in Oakland, CA. I trained in EMDR at JFK University. More recently, I trained in the Flash Technique, a new and pain-free way to process trauma. I’m in private practice and I specialize in working with adults with difficult life experiences. I help them to heal the hurt and access their innate wholeness.
Because discovering Presence has been so transformative for me, I also integrate nondual wisdom and spirituality when clients are interested.
I also work as a personal coach for performing artists. As a creative (former professional actor/singer), I am passionate about providing performers with the tools they need to succeed. Check out Behind the Curtain Coaching for more information about personal coaching for performing artists.
The Long Version:
If you ask people who used to know me before I went to therapy, I bet they’d have some less-than-wonderful things to say about me. My good qualities were there, but somehow they were always eclipsed by the not-so-good. I also felt chronically anxious, sometimes depressed, rarely happy. Maybe you can relate…
The thing is, no one really knew the kind of pain I was hiding inside. How the trauma that I’d experienced had made me feel unsafe. Ashamed. Unlovable. Damaged. No one knew that the experiences I’d been through had led me to act that way.
How could they know – I didn’t know myself!
It was a couple of compassionate, skilled, and open-minded therapists that helped me to understand the connection between what happened to me and how I was feeling and acting. They led me through reprocessing my trauma with EMDR. It wasn’t a comfortable process, that’s for sure. But the hurt began to heal. I started to feel safe and lovable again. I realized that I am not damaged and truly, never was.
And I re-discovered the fundamental Presence that I AM (And you are, too!)
• • •
For years, I wanted to be an actor. I quit my “practical” bachelor’s degree track as a mechanical engineer (University of Michigan) to pursue my love of theatre (B.A. Wayne State University). I worked as an actor for a while. Nothing you’ve seen (unless you’re a Chicago children’s theatre aficionado).
I thought being an actor would make me happy. But whether I was successful or not, I wasn’t happy. There were moments of true connection, of Presence – sometimes onstage or in rehearsals. Those times where “I” would fall away and there was just NOW. I lived for that. You probably have something in your life that is like that for you too. Just think about your favorite thing to do in the whole world.
What it is about it that you love so much?
Yep, that’s it.
But those short-lived moments of Presence didn’t make it off the stage. That’s where the call to spirituality started for me. My deep yearning to integrate these experiences and to know myself as Presence in my daily life, led me to nondual wisdom and spiritual teachings. I am deeply grateful for the teachings of Eckhart Tolle, Adyashanti, Byron Katie, and Gangaji.
My work as a therapist is a synthesis of all of this. A fundamental component of my work is the recognition that Presence is always available to all of us (in fact, it IS us). I also bring my lived experience that without healing our trauma, we may never fully be able to know and embody this Presence. I deeply understand the effect trauma has on us. And I also know that healing is possible.
I’m living proof.
And you can be, too.