"I am terrified".
Those were among the first words I spoke to Peg when I first stepped into her office. I was; I was afraid of the truth, afraid to accept myself for what I really am, and afraid of what it meant for my life, my loved ones, and my future. My past and present trauma left me absolutely paralyzed, and that paralysis led to mounting frustration, depression, and anger.
I was a little put off, at first, by Peg's methods. I thought "playing with a bunch of toys in a sandbox" was, at best, a waste of time. I thought sitting in a chair forcing myself to concentrate on my breath was, while relaxing, akin to lunacy. Even if it felt better for a few minutes, surely this was no long-term solution to my problems.
Except I was wrong.
The deep breathing and talking allowed me to calmly and rationally confront the various traumas I'd experienced over my life. Both exercises worked in unison to help me understand how intertwined everything was, but also give me the tools to reconcile my issues, of which there were many.
It's been about one year since I first stepped foot in Peg's office. I will say this: most of the fears that I had coming in came true. A lot of the bad things I thought would happen as a result of accepting my true self, and living that truth, happened. However, what I've gained is the confidence and strength to face it, and everything else. I am who I was always meant to be now, and my cynicism and fear about the future has turned to optimism and excitement.
Peg is infinitely patient, and truly cares about her clients; there was never a doubt in my mind that she had my best interests at heart. The work was hard, and I wasn't always up to it. However, while she was always able to read my mood, and never pushed me into anything I wasn't ready for, she also never wasted my time, or allowed me to. She kept us on track.
I no longer see her regularly, as we've agreed there's no longer a need for it. But without her help, I would never have had the courage to understand myself, my needs, and take steps to make it all real. The life I have now, the genuine hope for the future, and the ability to live truly and authentically, I owe in large part to her.
Peg is the most welcoming, open-minded, creative and intuitive therapist I have ever had. And that in itself would be enough for me to recommend her to anyone. But what really sets her apart, what makes her different ... is that she makes a difference. In a very short period of time, Peg gave me real results.
I first contacted Peg because I was looking for someone who specialized in LGBTQ and gender identity, and had a strong background working with phobias and anxiety. As an artist, I was also intrigued by her work with Sand Tray Therapy. I'd never heard of it, but it sounded promising. I expected to get help, of course. But I was surprised at the insights I gained and the changes I recognized in myself after only a few sessions.
Peg is an excellent listener who often sees insightful connections I missed when I'm talking with her. But what I find most interesting is the way she uses non-verbal therapy methods in combination with verbal communication to help me access parts of myself more fully than I have before. In any given session we might try Sand Tray Therapy, or EMDR, or another of my favorites, IFS Therapy, where we work with different Parts in me that have struggled to silence or protect other Parts, so I can learn how to listen and speak to myself, as it were, instead of wondering why I sometimes appear to be working against my own best interests.
This, I think, is at the center of Peg's therapy sessions, and it's probably why she is so effective at affecting real change. She's teaching me to be my own therapist, as I play in the Sand Tray, or open my mind non-judgmentally to parts of me I'd been trying to silence or ignore. She's changing the way I listen to myself ... communicate with myself. And it's made a palpable change in my life and how I'm choosing to live it.
After seeing two therapists who couldn’t make a difference for me, I finally found Peg. She is truly something special. Peg’s sandtray, in tandem with the Internal Family Systems model, allowed me to identify the work that needed to be done—and to actually do the work. She is at the cutting edge of ensuring success with her clients. She is easy to talk to, kind, and maintains a sense of levity in her sessions. Finding Peg has changed the course of my life.
Peg is a compassionate and informed therapist with several years of experience helping individuals who identify as LGBTQQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex and Asexual). She welcomes anyone who is non-binary, gender non-conforming, cross dressers, and those who question their gender identity. Her work is based on helping all people to love and accept themselves. She creates a safe space for all people to freely explore and determine their own identity. Peg helps people find their own path to present themselves authentically in the way that feels true to themselves.
“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway: we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”
CONTACT PEG: (978) 852-2501
Trauma, Sex and Relationship Therapist in North Andover, MA
Peg Hurley Dawson, LMHC, CST-S
“If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower in his hand when he awoke – Aye, what then.”
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge