Dr. Swartout works on an individual and group basis with adults and couples. Her areas of expertise include:

Growing Edges’ Psychological Services

Psychotherapy is not easily described in general statements. It varies depending on the personalities of the psychologist and patient, and the particular problems you are experiencing. We may use many different methods, but generally our approach invites your close attention to your internal experience, to your perceptions of your world around you, and to the manner in which you pursue or limit making your way. we believe that therapy is a process of experiencing and understanding who you really are and creating a greater sense of personal alignment.

In our work, we may invite you to explore by talking about material or experimenting with behaviors. You always have the right to decline or agree to these invitations, and it is appropriate at any time to question what we are doing. However, it is important for you to understand that psychotherapy is not like a medical doctor visit. Instead, in order for psychotherapy to be effective, it calls for a very active effort on your part. The more honest, truthful, and genuine you are about what you are believing, thinking, feeling, saying/doing, in your daily life outside of our office and with us in our office, the more likely it is that you will really understand yourself, we will really understand you, and will together help you heal. In the same way, we will be honest with you. In order for therapy to really work, our honesty and genuineness with each other is essential.

While we provide expertise regarding how to do meaningful therapy, you are the source of what is important to you and your level of satisfaction. Since therapy seeks to enhance your ability to care for yourself, we will support your being in charge of yourself. Our deepest intention is that you find within yourself a deep and lasting sense of wholeness, worth, and esteem.

Our first few sessions will involve an evaluation of your needs. By the end of the evaluation, we will be able to offer you some first impressions of what our work will include. You should evaluate this information along with your own opinions of whether you feel comfortable working with us. Most clients with whom we meet feel their problems are adequately resolved in 8-12 sessions, and they feel capable of working through the remaining aspects of their concerns without therapy. Some clients return when they have encountered a new aspect of their problem and they would like some help.

Therapy involves a large commitment of time, money, and energy, so you should be very careful about the therapist you select. If you have questions about our procedures, we should discuss them whenever they arise. If your doubts persist, we will be happy to help you set up a meeting with another mental health professional for a second opinion.

Psychotherapy can have benefits and risks. Since therapy often involves discussing unpleasant aspects of your life, you may experience uncomfortable feelings like sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, loneliness, and helplessness. On the other hand, psychotherapy has also been shown to have many benefits. Therapy often leads to better relationships, solutions to specific problems, a better understanding of yourself, and significant reductions in feelings of distress.

For more detailed and complete information on any of the above information, please download a copy of our Psychotherapist-Patient Services Agreement.


When a person suffers from depression, it can affect every part of his or her life, including one’s physical body, one’s behavior, thought processes, mood, ability to relate to others, and general lifestyle.

People who are diagnosed with clinical depression have a combination of symptoms:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, even when there is reason to be hopeful
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Much less interest or pleasure in most regular activities
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling worthless
  • Excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Lessened ability to think or concentrate
  • Indecisiveness
  • Thinking distorted thoughts; having an unrealistic view of life
  • Weight loss or gain without dieting
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Recurrent thoughts of death
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • A specific plan for committing suicide
  • A suicide attempt
  • Feelings of restlessness or being slowed down

Signs That Professional Treatment Is Needed

  • Thinking about death or suicide. This is always dangerous and you should see a professional therapist immediately.
  • When symptoms of depression continue for a long time, you may need professional help. Acute responses to events are normal, but they should not last beyond a reasonable time.
  • Your ability to function is impaired by your depression. Seek help before your life situation deteriorates to a serious level.
  • You have become so isolated that you have no one with whom to check reality. Seek out someone to share your thoughts and feelings with.
  • Depressive symptoms have become severe.

If you or someone you know is depressed and exhibits any of the above signs, it is extremely important to seek the assistance of a medical or mental health professional.


An anxiety disorder affects a person’s behavior, thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. The most common anxiety disorders include the following. Social anxiety or social phobia is a fear of being around other people. People who suffer from this disorder always feel self-conscious around others. They have the feeling that everyone is watching them and staring at them, being critical in some way. Because the anxiety is so painful, they learn to stay away from social situations and avoid other people. Some eventually need to be alone at all times, in a room with the door closed. The feeling is pervasive and constant and even happens with people they know.

Panic Disorder is a condition where a person has panic attacks without warning. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 5% of the adult American population suffers from panic attacks. Some experts say that this number is actually higher, since many people experience panic attacks but never receive treatment. Some symptoms of panic attack are:

  • palpitations
  • sweating
  • trembling
  • chest pain
  • feelings of choking
  • nausea
  • feeling dizzy
  • fear of losing control
  • fear of dying
  • numbness or tingling
  • chills or hot flashes

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is when a person worries excessively about almost everything. The person is aware that his or her worrying is affecting the quality of his or her life.

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Dealing with losses of all kinds, loss of loved ones through death and divorce, for instance, are difficult for everyone.

There are some predictable stages that most people pass through after losing something or someone important. In her work on death and dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined five stages of grieving.

  • Shock and Denial: The first reaction to loss is often the inability to feel anything. This may include feeling numb, weak, overwhelmed, anxious, not yourself, or withdrawn.
  • Anger: Blaming yourself or others.
  • Bargaining: If you’ll just let him live, I’ll promise to go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life.
  • Depression: Feeling deep sadness, disturbed sleep and eating patterns, thoughts of suicide, excessive crying.
  • Acceptance: Beginning to look for the lessons of the experience.

Kübler-Ross said that the grieving process involves experiencing all five stages, although not always in this order. She also said that people often cycle back and forth through a number of the stages before coming to the stage of acceptance.

Some examples of significant losses are:

  • Loss of a person through death
  • Divorce
  • Job loss
  • Loss of your good health when you are diagnosed with a disease
  • Loss of a body part through accident or surgery
  • Loss of an ability, such as blindness
  • Loss of a friend who has moved
  • Loss of everything familiar when you move away

How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving

  • Don’t try to get them to feel or be anything but what they are.
  • Don’t reward them for acting cheerful or “like your old self”. This teaches them to suppress their feelings around you.
  • Don’t avoid them. They need your support.
  • Let them tell about the loss again and again, if they need to.
  • Recognize that unexpected, perhaps inappropriate behavior is part of the grieving process. It means the bereaved person is moving forward.

Substance Abuse

Addiction to alcohol and other drugs is a chronic disease. It is progressive, continuous, and long-term. Alcohol or drug abuse means that a person has control over whether he or she drinks or uses. Alcohol or drug dependence means that a person has lost all control over his or her drinking or using behavior.

People who suffer from addictive diseases engage in compulsive behavior and gradually lose control of their lives. They continue to drink or use drugs, even when they know it will lead to negative consequences. They tend to have low self-esteem and almost inevitably suffer from anxiety and depression.

If someone in your life suffers from addictive disease, you have experienced his or her extreme behavior, ranging from depression to exhilaration. You probably have also experienced the person’s state of denial (“I can quit anytime” or “I don’t have a problem”), dishonesty, frequent disappointments, and the series of ruined relationships. These are the hallmark behaviors when a person suffers from addiction to alcohol or drugs.

Alcoholism and drug addiction affect people from all parts of society. Addictive disease affects rock stars, writers, artists, and homeless people. Victims also include stay-at-home moms, teenagers, and corporate executives. There are addicts who are students at top universities and physicians in your local hospital. They may be teachers at your neighborhood school or salespeople at the local hardware store.

What to Do When an Alcoholic or Addict Won’t Stop

Sometimes the alcoholic or addict is in such a strong state of denial that the best alternative is to arrange an intervention. This process involves arranging for a professional interventionist to organize a meeting of the family, friends, and employer of the patient. The interventionist helps the group prepare a confrontation that will be followed by the patient entering a treatment center. The patient’s family and friends usually write a brief statement describing how the drinking or drug use has affected them. The interventionist and the group then meet with the patient and read their statements to the patient with the guidance of the interventionist. These interventions, when managed by professionals from respected treatment organizations, often result in successful treatment of the addiction.

Life Changes

Life transitions can include any of the following:

  • Accidents
  • Buying a house
  • Changing jobs
  • Divorce
  • Getting married
  • Having a baby
  • Leaving for college
  • Relocation
  • Retirement
  • Selling a house
  • Serious illness
  • Significant loss (of a person, job, pet, or anything important)
  • Starting a career

Successfully moving through a life transition usually means experiencing the following stages:

  1. Experience a range of negative feelings (anger, anxiety, confusion, numbness, self-doubt).
  2. Feel a loss of self-esteem.
  3. Begin to accept the change.
  4. Acknowledge that you need to let go of the past and accept the future.
  5. Begin to feel hopeful about the future.
  6. Feel increased self-esteem.
  7. Develop an optimistic view of the future.

The process of moving through a transition does not always proceed in order, in nice, predictable stages. People usually move through the process in different ways, often cycling back and forth among the stages.

Life transitions are often difficult, but they have a positive side, too. They provide us with an opportunity to assess the direction our lives are taking. They are a chance to grow and learn.


The inability to have children can be one of the greatest challenges that a person or couple will ever face. It affects people emotionally, physically, and financially. It can place tremendous stress on a couple’s relationship and on their relationships with family and friends.

After each expensive procedure or round of treatment, when no pregnancy results, the disappointment turns to devastation. Many infertile people become depressed and anxious, and feel loss of control. The strain in the marriage and among family members sometimes becomes unbearable. The self-esteem of one or both partners plummets. They often feel lonely, sad, and angry. The long series of disappointments that many experience can cause a numbing effect, and depression can result. If one partner has the medical problem that is causing the infertility, he or she often feels guilty and may even offer the other a divorce. At the same time, the infertile person may fear that the other partner will leave the relationship. All of these changes can make people feel emotionally distant and needing to avoid intimacy.

Almost no one expects to be infertile. Most people think they will grow up, get married, and have children, just like everyone else around them. So when a couple learns that they are infertile, they are often surprised at how devastated they feel. After all, they reason, they don’t have cancer or a deadly disease (in most cases); it’s just infertility. So why do they feel so badly? Most couples gradually come to realize that it is a distressing experience. Many eventually seek the help of a team of professionals, realizing that it is a good idea to create a support network and take advantage of the help that is available.

When one or both partners start to feel the impact of infertility, it can be a good idea to seek the services of a mental health professional, especially one who has experience working with the issues of infertility. Since these issues are so complex, it is important to find a counselor who has experience and training in dealing with the impact on individuals, couples, and families. Many couples also find relief in support groups where they can meet regularly with other infertile couples, share experiences, and support each other.

Although a mental health professional cannot influence the outcome of the medical treatment, he or she can help the couple get through the process by helping them communicate better with each other and gain support from family and friends.

Download our newsletter on the topic: Keeping Your Relationship Strong During Infertility.


Download our Authentic Living newsletters and informational handouts. Topics:

How to Get the Most Benefit From Couples Therapy
Please read before our first session

Love that Lasts
Communication Techniques for Couples

Keeping Your Relationship Strong During Infertility

Depression: What it is and what to do about it (part 1)

Depression: What it is and what to do about it (part 2)

Adolescent Development

Q. What does Authentic Living mean? A. Maximizing and embracing the full potential for life.

Additional Resources:

International Institute for Humanistic Studies:

Arizona Psychological Association:

American Psychological Association:

National Infertility Association:

American Society for Reproductive Medicine:

American Psychological Association’s Help Center:
The American Psychological Association publishes this site to help individuals better understand whatever psychological issues they may face.

At Health:
Includes information on specific disorders and articles written by a wide variety of professionals.

Provides a searchable drug and herb database–written in plain English and explains what each medication is used for, how it works, common side effects and interaction, how it should be taken, etc.

National Institute of Mental Health
A resource on a wide variety of disorders, including symptoms, treatments, and resources.

National Mental Health Association
A rich source of consumer information. Its fact sheets cover disorders and explain how mental health illness affects specific groups.

Psych. Central
Offers hundreds of articles on mental health issues, symptoms, and treatments, as well as a drug database.