Susan Hilton, LCSW
Welcome to Therapy Austin. I’m so glad to have you visit my page. I think many people come to therapy with a specific goal and I respect that. My philosophy about therapy can be summed up as a partnership and collaboration. I believe the client is the expert regarding their life. My job is to “walk” alongside you, assisting with your process. You are at the center of that process, and the expert about your life’s journey. On my end, I have the education, training and experience to provide you with tools, strategies and new perspectives. I don’t believe in “a one size fits all” approach, and utilize different modalities when working with clients. I’ve noticed that Mindfulness concepts are an extremely helpful adjunct to most therapies. I also ascribe to the amazing findings in brain science (especially related to trauma), and encourage my clients to learn about brain function.
My clinical philosophy really crystallized in 2013, when I was trained in EMDR. EMDR is an evidenced-based intervention that has had very effective outcomes, especially with trauma. In a nutshell, this framework helps clients revisit a trauma and then reprocess the experience. As a result, the client gains some freedom from traumatic experiences. For me, the process of helping a client experience relief from distress is extremely gratifying.
Over the years I’ve worked with children, adolescents, adults, and the terminally ill. I worked for foster care agencies in both California and Texas, and have a heart for kids from hard places. I’ve noticed that the most significant common denominator with so many of my clients has been grief and loss. Grief can look different in different individuals. It can manifest in anger, sadness, loneliness or self-destructive behavior. What I’ve learned is that we all wish to be healed from wounds. We also want to be heard, accepted and valued—no matter who or where we are. Thus, the elements of trauma-informed care are a guiding principle of my practice.
In 2013 I worked in a private practice in Southern California, and noticed that I kept getting referrals related to grief and loss. As a result, I developed a “reputation” for working with those issues. Strangely enough, during that time both my parents were diagnosed with terminal illnesses. I was promptly catapulted into the role of full time caregiver for a year. In the end, I became a member of a club I hadn’t anticipated—the orphan club. My grief journey has informed my clinical practice. I’ve been in the shoes of the helper and helpee. I “get it” on both sides. What I know for sure is that there can be great transformation on the other side of grief. In addition, I’m a strong proponent of creative expression as a means for healing. Whether it’s art, music, singing or interior decorating, these processes can be enormously healing.
I received my B.A. in Psychology from The University of Houston in 1984, and my Masters in Social Work in 1991 from Our Lady of The Lake in San Antonio. My husband and I recently returned to the Hill Country after living in Southern California for twenty-six years. The two of us have been married for almost thirty-four years and have three millennial-aged children (living in San Francisco and New York City).
In my free time I love to walk, garden, read, listen to crime podcasts and practice yoga. I’m also a dog lover, and have a four-legged child named Buster (who is a fifteen-year-old, long-haired chihuahua).
Area of Expertise
Certified Grief Counselor, Loss, Anxiety and Depression
EMDR and Advanced Mindfulness
Parenting and Relationship Issues, Attachment Theory