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Therapist Spotlight – Whitney Barrell

Whitney Barrell is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at Sonoma State University and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. Whitney has always had an interest in the social and emotional experiences of others. In junior high she often worried her parents because she was fascinated by books documenting children’s experiences of trauma and separation. The skill that helps her most in her career is that of endless curiosity. One intervention she often uses in family therapy is developing a timeline of a child’s life. She uses a giant sheet of butcher paper and together the parent and child draw out significant events in the child’s life. Whitney facilitates discussion around the events that were traumatic, and the parent and child can communicate about it via drawing, words or talking with one another.

Whitney maintains a private practice in Salt Lake City. Her clients are “children, and those who want to have children” meaning, that she also sees individuals experiencing infertility. In her private practice she treats primarily young children and has a particular interest in parent-child relationship issues, attachment, trauma and anxiety. Her clinical lens is filtered through Theraplay, interpersonal neurobiology, and child-directed play therapy. She loves conceptualizing the issues that clients bring to her and could spend hours thinking through the theoretical facets rather than writing the clinical notes. Whitney is also the Clinical Director for the Utah Infertility Resource Center. Prior to starting her own practice, she worked as a therapist for Valley Mental Health in the Children’s Outpatient Clinic. Early in her career she spent several months in Kenya volunteering in orphanages and women’s centers.

Whitney and her husband adopted two children and she is an active part of the adoption community; often educating others on open adoption, ethical concerns in adoption and improved resources for birth parents. If Whitney could choose a superpower it would be invisibility, her favorite TV show is “This Is Us” and if she could become an expert in any subject (without all the work) it would be astronomy.