James "Jim" Baker, LPC Associate
Supervised by Marshall Lyles, LPC-S
“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health: safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.” Bessel A. van der Kolk
Connection – it’s the thing we all long for, yet for many of us, it’s also the very thing that we fear the most. It’s ironic that this most human of needs (we are highly social creatures) is also what brings most people to therapy – things getting in the way of connecting with others.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need each other, that connection with other humans (as well as animals and nature) isn’t a luxury. It’s essential to our mental and physical well-being.
Without the experience of feeling seen, heard, felt, and understood by others, we don’t function well, and our overall health suffers. We’re not meant to go through life alone.
Often, our struggles to authentically connect with family, friends, and partners comes from the quality of our earliest relationships – those with our primary caregivers during our infancy and childhood – and what we got or didn’t get from them.
Those early years when our brains and nervous systems are literally being built, and when we’re bonding (or not) with our caregivers, is a developmental human experience called attachment.
And that process provides the mold or template for all our future relationships – how we interact with others, understand ourselves, and make sense of the world. The quality of those relationships helps determine our attachment style, or pattern of relating with others, and the degree to which we feel safe and comfortable being close to people.
This is the work I like to do with clients: exploring, with curiosity and compassion, the way our brains and nervous systems brilliantly adapted to early childhood circumstances to survive the very best we could. And how these survival strategies that saved our lives then can get in the way of our feeling safe, seen, and connected now.
Therapy with a trusted counselor with whom you feel at ease and understood – that inner sense of knowing that someone really gets you – is a good guide to use when choosing to work with a therapist. Trust your intuition and how you feel when you’re with them.
The quality of your relationship with your therapist – called the therapeutic alliance – is also the most important factor in determining the outcome of therapy. It’s so personal, and what works for someone else isn’t necessarily what’s best for you.
I believe so strongly in the benefit of therapy because I’ve done a lot of work on myself with caring, skilled therapists over the years. It’s had a huge impact on my life, and when we’re working together, I hope you’ll be able to sense that I’ve been right where you are now – struggling with painful issues that feel insurmountable. I don’t know what it’s like to be you and to have lived your unique life, but I do understand what it’s like to be a client in therapy, looking for help and wanting to change.
I earned my master’s in counseling in 2020 from St. Edward’s University in Austin. I did my graduate internship at Capital Area Counseling (CAC), a local clinic that provides low-cost, accessible therapy to the community and serves as a training site for pre- and post-graduate therapists. My area of focus is attachment/developmental/relational trauma – forms of trauma that build up over time, starting in early childhood.
In my former career, I was a reporter, writer, and editor for several Midwestern newspapers and later at a major Washington, D.C., nonprofit. I love sitting and listening to people, hearing their stories, and building trust. Therapy with clients is just an extension of that, at a much deeper level.
When I’m not seeing clients, you’ll likely find me at home, streaming good TV shows and movies, eating bagels and drinking coffee, or taking long walks around South Austin and wanting to hug every dog.
I encourage you to reach out and contact me if you’d like to talk. I’m proud of you for making the decision to find a therapist – asking for help is one of the strongest things you can do.
If you’re interested in working together, I invite you to call me at 512/201-4501, ext. 158, or through our online request form.
Area of Expertise
Warmth, Curiosity, Humor
Empathy, Connection, Insight
Attachment, Developmental, and Relational Trauma
Techniques & Experience
Marshall Lyles, LPC-S, LMFT-S, RPT-S
300 Allen Street
Austin, TX 78702