Meet the Therapist
Michelle C. Brooten-Brooks, M.S., LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
“Life is not meant to be tolerated and endured.
You are meant to thrive. I want to help you strive to become your greatest self.”
Why I Love What I Do
I became a therapist a little later in life, after gaining lots of life experience, through both marriage and motherhood with my three children. I had a desire to be of greater service to others. I know first-hand that life is hard, and some days relationships are even harder. I truly believe when the therapist is the right fit for a client or clients, therapy can really make a healing difference – I’ve seen it happen. I am here doing this work because I love what I do.
Experienced Crisis Counselor
After I graduated with my Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy, I worked in an outpatient community mental health clinic with all ages: 4 to 74. Many of my clients were in active and severe mental health crisis. I had to quickly intervene, restore a sense of hope, help them find relief, and guide them toward their healing.
Good Relationships Don’t Just Happen
I know that none of us are born knowing relationship or communication skills, and that you don’t know what you don’t know! Good relationships don’t just happen, they take work. Sometimes there’s deep hurt, emotional pain, confusion, frustration, some teeth clenching, a good bit of cursing, and aggravation along the way. Getting clients to a sense of relief as quickly as possible with solutions and strategies is always my goal.
Tell Me A Story
I am also a journalist with over 25 years of experience. I write often about health and mental-health related topics. I know that the best parts of gathering stories emerge by simply having a conversation. I use this concept as a therapist as well. With every client my approach is to be as real and genuine as possible so that we’re just having a natural conversation as they tell me their story.
“At Least You Care…”
One day, a client said to me, “Miss Michelle, what I like about you is that you’ll be honest with me and you’ll tell me the truth, it’s different than talking to my friends because they may just tell me what I want to hear. Sometimes even if the truth is what we need, it can be really hard to hear, but with you – at least I know you care.”
My Therapy Style
Therapy to me is about helping people make sense of their lives. Here’s more information about my therapeutic style:
What is your therapy style like?
During sessions, I’m responsive, engaged, and conversational. First, I aim to attune to my clients, which means I am listening and focused on them as they are talking. I believe being heard as we tell our story in therapy is an important part of the healing experience so as an attachment-based therapist, it’s important to me that my clients feel we are connecting and that they are seen, heard, and understood.
Are you going to analyze or judge me?
I make an effort to think out loud during sessions with my clients so you won’t ever have to wonder or guess what I’m thinking, or worse – feel scrutinized or judged. Ewww! I don’t want to be treated that way and I certainly don’t want my clients to feel that way either.
Do you take notes about clients during session?
Being present with a client is important to me, so I take very minimal notes during sessions and if a client has questions about documentation that I’m required to do, I’m happy to discuss that and will answer any questions. I don’t just passively sit and stare at you while taking mysterious notes about you. Instead, I focus on having a natural conversation with my clients and I do my notes after sessions.
Do you decide what to work on, or does the client?
My focus early on in the first session is always to understand the client’s goals and what they hope to get from their investment of time, money, and energy in therapy. I ask clients in the first 10-minutes what brings them to therapy and what do they hope to get out of this experience.
Do you focus on the problem or the solution?
Generally, once the problem is understood, I focus more on the solution than the problem. I am trained in solution-focused brief therapy and do use those techniques, but I’m especially mindful of an idea by Albert Einstein, who once said:
“The same consciousness that created the problem cannot create the solution.”
How do you approach clients, especially those different from you?
rapy is a courageous and brave journey for all clients. Putting clients at ease as quickly as possible and making them feel comfortable is my goal with each and every client. I strive always to be of service, to be culturally sensitive, to be genuine, to be concerned with the best interest of my clients, and to be worthy of my clients’ trust.
I regularly work with a diversity of clients different from me in many ways, which I thoroughly enjoy, but I am mindful that I have blind spots. As much as possible, I acknowledge this directly in conversation so hopefully, clients will quickly realize I’m very open to hearing. listing and seeking to understand what I may miss in their lived experience. As a marriage and family therapist, I’m trained in approaching all clients as the expert in their own lives – I’m the expert in helping facilitate change.
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
- Earned a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from Valdosta State University in 2018.
- Licensed in Georgia, Texas, & Florida (see below)
Multi-State Professional Licensure:
- Georgia: Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist: #MFT001828
- Florida: Telehealth-only Licensed Provider: #TPMF943| https://flhealthsource.gov/telehealth/
- Texas: Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist: #205363
- South Carolina: Telehealth-only Licensed Provider: (Coming Soon)
- North Carolina: Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist: (Coming Soon)
- Adjunct Professor in Valdosta State University’s Marriage & Family Therapy Program
- Courses taught include: Psychopathology & Psychopharmacology, Assessments in Marriage & Family Therapy, Mindfulness as Therapeutic Practice, and Family Systems Theories.
- For more information: VSU MFT Homepage
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy Externship
- Completed the Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy Externship again in November 2023.
- Completed the Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy Externship in June 2021.
Experienced Crisis Counselor
- Experience working in a Community Mental Health outpatient clinic with diverse clients aged 4 to 74.
- Worked with clients in active crisis, severe trauma, PTSD, and severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI).
Personality Assessments Certifications
- Certified Practitioner of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Types Step 1 and Step 2 assessments.
- Enneagram Applications Certified Professional, IEA Accredited Training Program.
Meet The Therapist
Q & A with Michelle
Q: What does the first session with you look like?
“I’m aware that by the time a client is sitting in front of me, it took a lot of courage to get to that spot and therapy can feel uncomfortable, so I really try to put people at ease as quickly as possible.”
A: To start…
I explain a little bit about myself to give clients a chance to settle in. Then, I want to hear what is bringing the client or clients to therapy, and what do they hope to get out of therapy?
Growth is Uncomfortable
I’m aware that by the time a client is sitting in front of me, it took a lot of courage to get to that spot and therapy can feel uncomfortable, so I aim to put clients at ease as quickly as possible. I work to be present and attuned, literally tuning in and focusing on the client and what they are saying. I also tell clients what I’m thinking so they aren’t left wondering, or worse, feeling judged and analyzed.
Working Toward Change
If we can accomplish the clients’ goals quickly in a few sessions, I’m all for it. If clients want to spend more time in therapy, I’m fine with that too. Overall, I want clients to feel that together we are working toward the change and relief they are seeking.
Q: Why did you become a therapist?
“I know first-hand how challenging relationships – all of them – can be. How life happens to all of us and sometimes individually, as a couple, or in any of our relationships, we need support and new skills to find our way back to connection.”
A: I had a genuine desire…
To be of service to others. I went back to school later in life, with marriage, motherhood, and life experience going with me. I know first-hand how challenging relationships – all of them – can be. How life happens to all of us and sometimes individually, as a couple or in any of our relationships, we need support and new skills to find our way back to connection.
Q: How does your life experience influence your work with clients?
“When our relationships are going well we experience the greatest joys life has to offer us, but when they are not, it can be gut-wrenching, stressful, soul-crushing, and anxiety-provoking.”
A: I believe relationships…
Are the most challenging part of our human experience, the most rewarding, and the most important. When our relationships are going well we experience the greatest joys life has to offer us, but when they are not it can be gut-wrenching, stressful, soul-crushing, and anxiety-provoking.
Our Relationships Matter Most
At the end of the day and at the end of life, it’s our relationships that matter most, which is why I focus my practice on relationships.
None of us are born with relationship skills and yet we’re all dealing with many different relationships on a daily basis. Therapy can provide strategies, coping skills, and peace of mind.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
I think attachment explains a lot about relationships. I’m trained in attachment-based Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, Attachment-based Family Therapy, and I have trained for six years with a clinical supervisor who has 30 years of experience as a relationship specialist.
Get In Touch
For questions or appointment requests, please fill out the HIPAA-secure form below, and we will respond as soon as possible. Thank you!
“They say it takes two to tango,
but I believe one person doing the right things
can shift the entire relationship.”
“The journey of
a thousand miles
a single step.”
“No matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse. At the same time, it is often within your power to make them better.”
The Last Lecture
“If you do not try, you’ll never know
what might have been.”
“Out of pain can come strength
and a deeper sense of connection,
if we learn to use the power of love.”
Dr. Sue Johnson
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
“You are never too old
to set another goal
or to dream a new dream.”
“My mission in life is not merely to survive,
but to thrive, and to do so with
some passion, some compassion, some humor,
and some style.”
“Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching.”
“In friendship or in love, the two side by side raise hands together to find what one cannot reach alone.”