SARAH CRANE O'NEILL Educator

Social worker, Certified Gottman Educator, couples therapist, mother, wife, writer, sister, friend.  

 

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MEET SARAH

Sarah Crane O'Neill

Becoming a parent is completely life-changing on an individual level, and transformative to an intimate partnership or marriage. Unfortunately most couples’ relationship satisfaction decreases after welcoming a child, even if the child was planned. As a relatively new parent myself (my husband and I have a two and four year old), I know some of this struggle first-hand.

And as a social worker, I have seen many different ways couples and families can change and develop after the addition of a child.

What I’ve learned is we’re wired for connection. We need close relationships, and our bodies and brains are primed for them. Relationships to our partners and children are often the most  fulfilling aspect of our lives, but they can also be among our greatest challenges and sources of suffering. Many of us don’t grow up with model marriages or relationships we wish to emulate, and even if we do, it’s a real art to maintain a healthy, happy partnership of our own.

The good news is people can become parents and remain happily partnered or married, and there are amazing supports out there to help. Seattle in particular is home to many workshops, researchers and therapists that specialize in couples and new parents. Dr. John Gottman, who lives and works in Seattle and is now internationally recognized, is one marriage and family researcher and therapist who has inspired me greatly. He created the Bringing Baby Home workshop, as well as a couples therapy method that I draw from in my couples counseling practice at Seattle Therapy Group, where I work with folks transitioning to marriage and/or parenthood.

In my work with prospective and new parents, both as an educator and couples therapist, I am so honored to sit with people in a vulnerable place. I am most gratified to help couples get “unstuck” in a particular area, whether its a conflict, hurt, or area of confusion. My role is different as an educator versus a therapist, but I draw on some of the same tools and exercises, all research-backed, to help couples approach conversations differently than they have before. After a good workshop or therapy session, couples feel like they’ve just had a good workout and a massage -- they feel challenged but there’s a sense of release and deepened connection to one another.

I love supporting couples when the unexpected topics that seem so "simple" but it bring up complex issues, that when handled with care, can reinforce commitment and joy.

CURIOUS? Here are a few Q & A.

Q.  WHEN DID YOU ANSWER YOUR CALLING?

I suppose it’s no big surprise I became a social worker. As a kid I was always drawn to people struggling with challenges like a cultural barrier, disability, or lack of popularity, and I wanted to be their confidante and champion. Embarrassing story: Although I have no known Native ancestry, one summer as a child I attended a Native American themed day camp outside Boston where I grew up. On the first day we were asked to disperse in the woods and quietly consider a “camp name” for ourselves -- an adjective and noun -- that fit our personality and identity. We came back together and silently climbed to the top of a hill to call out our names, one by one, into the valley below. My friends pronounced themselves “Soaring Eagle,” “Laughing Brook,” and other poetic choices… and I, in all seriousness but with a touch of self-consciousness, was “Helping Dog!”.

 

In adolescence and early adulthood, I did a lot of volunteering and activism in the areas of hunger, homelessness, and domestic violence. I pursued a BA in Sociology and later earned a Masters in Social Work.

Q.  WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE YOU WERE A THERAPIST + EDUCATOR?

Prior to my current gigs, I was was an Adoption & Foster Care Specialist at Amara, where I assessed, prepared, and supported foster and adoptive parents and lead support groups and trainings. I also have experience providing outpatient mental health therapy to adults and children dealing with trauma, loss, and life transitions. Prior to graduate school, I worked with children with severe emotional and behavioral problems.

Q. WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF WORK?

Outside of work, I am a wife, mother, daughter, and sister. My husband and I have been together for twelve years and married for nine, and we have two kids, ages two and four. I love the outdoors, practicing yoga, reading and writing nonfiction, and almost anything creative. I try to follow my grandmother’s advice to never take myself too seriously.

MY PUBLISHED WRITING:

LOVE NOTE:

"Sarah is wise, compassionate, and a joy to work with"

Licensure + Education + Certifications

  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (License # LW 60308380)
  • Master of Social Work from Smith College School for Social Work
  • Bachelor of Arts from Brandeis University
  • Nine years of combined experience as a counselor, case manager, and educator in community mental health, a child welfare agency, a school, and a residential treatment center for children.
  • Gottman Bringing Baby Home Educator

LOVE NOTE:

"Sarah is wise, compassionate, and a joy to work with"

Licensure + Education + Certifications

  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (License # LW 60308380)
  • Master of Social Work from Smith College School for Social Work
  • Bachelor of Arts from Brandeis University
  • Nine years of combined experience as a counselor, case manager, and educator in community mental health, a child welfare agency, a school, and a residential treatment center for children.
  • Gottman Bringing Baby Home Educator