Claire Ashton is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). She holds a Bachelor of Science in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin, a certification in Paralegal Studies from Duke University, and a Master of Arts in Counseling from St. Edward’s University.
Claire completed her practicum and later practiced professionally at Ascension Seton Behavioral Health where she received training in DBT while facilitating groups in the Adult Intensive Outpatient Program. She concurrently completed a second practicum at Capital Area Counseling (CAC) where she treated children, families, and individuals presenting with mood disorders, social anxiety, perfectionism, phobias, challenges transitioning to adulthood, family challenges related to incarceration of a parent and divorce, personality disorders, chronic suicidal ideation and self-injuring behavior, and trauma and ritual abuse. Claire acted as Director of Operations, Senior Clinician, and Partner at a mid-sized, Austin-based, adherent-DBT agency prior to launching Austin Urban Sanctuary, her current endeavor.
In 2017, Claire completed basic training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which is used to alleviate distress associated with traumatic memories. She was certified by the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) in 2021 after completing advanced training in the use of EMDR for grief and mourning and the use of EMDR for ego-state work. As an EMDRIA Consultant, Claire supports clinicians on their path toward certification by offering both group and individual consultation. Practicing at the intersection of EMDR and DBT, Claire brings a unique skill-set and perspective to clinical consultation and treatment with individuals who have experienced recurring developmental trauma. In addition, she has also completed advanced education in DBT and EMDR for Substance Use Disorders.
In 2023, Claire introduced the use of virtual reality technology to her practice, providing clients the opportunity to experience real-life scenarios and safe exposure in controlled environments adapted and customized to clients' individual needs.
Prior to pursuing a career in counseling, Claire worked in the music and technology industries, and is passionate about helping creative individuals identify personal goals and priorities, build meaningful relationships, and find healthy and fulfilling ways to express themselves.
There are so many reasons that it’s difficult to solve our own problems. We get overwhelmed by our emotions, don’t have the right skills, don’t know what we want, are challenged by our environment, or are influenced by experiences from our past. I see you as a unique individual with your own story and I would like to help you capitalize on your strengths in order to solve the problems that stand in the way of you living your best life.
I work with adults, adolescents, and families struggling with anxiety disorders, perfectionism and chronic high performance, phobias, impulsivity issues, challenges transitioning to adulthood, adjustment difficulties related to personal or family change, neurodivergent experience (ADHD, Autism, giftedness), mood and personality disorders, substance abuse, trauma and ritual abuse, and dissociative disorders.
Consider me an accepting, committed advocate who is ready to meet you where you are and support your growth through our work together. I use an eclectic approach to treatment, tailored for your unique circumstances and experiences. I utilize elements of structural family therapy, attachment theory, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), virtual reality (VR) therapy, and core mindfulness. Therapy with me is warm and compassionate, challenging, creative, and humorous at times.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a specialized treatment that can decrease negative emotions associated with distressing, traumatic memories. EMDR is a first-line treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and can also be useful in the treatment of addictions, performance anxiety, phobias, sexual and physical abuse, and panic attacks. Trauma is a broad term that includes both experiences that we collectively consider disturbing (abuse, natural disasters, car accidents) and unique instances that make a negative impact on you personally and effect your life in the present.
EMDR does not require you to verbally explore your distressing experiences in great detail during therapy. EMDR is a structured approach that utilizes "snapshots" of your traumatic memories combined with bilateral stimulation to help you experience distressing events in a less disturbing way. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked by the impact of a disturbing event, intense suffering may occur. Once the block is removed, healing resumes.
I use EMDR as both a stand-alone treatment and in conjunction with other therapeutic approaches. EMDR is a complex therapy and may seem intriguing to you yet daunting at the same time. I recommend scheduling an assessment to learn how EMDR works so that we can determine together if it is a good fit for you.
Virtual Reality Therapy (VR)
A cutting-edge modality, VR therapy provides clients the opportunity to experience real-life scenarios and safe exposure in controlled environments adapted and customized to clients' individual needs. Among other diagnoses, VR is specifically beneficial to those experiencing OCD, PTSD, and specific phobias (flying, car rides and driving, public speaking, animals, tight spaces, fear of the dark, and more).
VR therapy also has proven efficacy in helping clients master abstract concepts like mindfulness and attention-training in a more tangible, fully-immersive, experiential manner.