• blue ridge team 23

Sarah James, LCMHC, LCAS

Primary Therapist

Adolescent Girls, Ages 14-18

Clinical Approach

I believe young people today are facing a resiliency crisis. In a culture that values instant gratification, consumerism, and facades, our youth are not being equipped with emotional intelligence, tolerance for discomfort, or authentic empowerment. Adolescence is a challenging and uncomfortable phase of life in which many teens are desperately searching for identity, belonging, and direction. Unfortunately, many of them find relief in maladaptive coping patterns. The students who find themselves in my group are complex and diverse, but the common thread that unites them is that they have become masterful at avoiding or masking their pain and discomfort. Substance abuse, school refusal, social isolation, technology addiction, promiscuity, and self-harm are all behaviors that originated as attempts to alleviate painful emotions associated with loneliness, poor self-esteem, fear, and powerlessness. The problem is that these behaviors are shortcuts which inevitably escalate and leave the original wounds to fester and intensify.

My approach is attachment based, trauma informed, and family systems focused. I believe that through a lens of curiosity, we can find the root of most problematic behaviors. I seek to empower adolescents to understand themselves and reevaluate the effectiveness of their choices. I strive to create a culture of safety in my group in which students can practice new ways of being, explore their values, and discover more effective methods for meeting their needs. My approach to working with parents and caregivers parallels my work with their teens; my goal is to help families exit cyclical power struggles and reimagine themselves as a team facing common goals and challenges. My style is one of “fierce love”-- I lead with compassion while holding others accountable to the belief that they are capable of resiliency, integrity, and authenticity.

While I am competent in addressing a wide variety of diagnoses and presenting concerns, I particularly enjoy working with adolescents who are neurodiverse, internalizing, adopted, socially anxious, and/or struggling with low self-esteem. In addition to my years of experience as both a field instructor and primary therapist in wilderness settings, I also have experience working in residential treatment, community mental health settings, and crisis intervention.

Personal Interests

Outside of work you can find me nurturing my relationship with nature through gardening, foraging, hiking, mountain biking, camping, or simply relaxing on my porch. Some of my favorite forms of self-care are challenging physical exercise, meditation, crafts, DIY projects, and amateur herbalism. A few of my core values are authenticity, interdependence, growth, flexibility, and fun. I live in Hendersonville, NC, with my husband, my dog Lewis, my cat Ethel, and an abundance of houseplants.

Education & Training

  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology with minors in Business and Gender & Diversity Studies, Xavier University
  • Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a Graduate Certificate in Addictions Counseling, Appalachian State University
  • Dual-licensed in counseling and addictions in Georgia (LPC, CAADC) and North Carolina (LCMHC, LCAS)
  • Certified in Attachment-Based Family Therapy, Level 1
  • Currently pursuing advanced certifications in Attachment Based Family Therapy and Adoption Competency