Our Team

Carol Cirabisi, MS, LMFT

Director, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

License #MT2084
Relationship Counselor
Individual Psychotherapist

Education:

Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY. Graduated 1986 with Bachelor of Arts Degree in English.

San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA. Graduated 1992 with Master of Science Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling.

Services Provided:

  • Relationship Counseling.
  • Individual Psychotherapy.

Background:

Originally from New York, I began my professional career over 25 years ago in the corporate world, dabbling in health and life insurance – from mail room, to claims processing, to underwriting, to management.

On the weekends, I nurtured my creative side by singing professionally with a seven-piece band. I was making very good money, and having so much fun; I thought my life was perfect. Any outsider looking in would have certainly perceived it to be that way.

Looking back, however, I remember how empty I felt on the inside, despite how “full” my life seemed. I see now that I was truly off-balance in those earlier years. I was searching “outwardly,” and, as a result, I experienced the emptiness that often accompanies an unbalanced life, despite how externally “full” it looked.

I found myself being drawn to the Pacific coast. At first, I did not know exactly why, but soon, I understood that I was indeed being “called” to pursue a career in the healing arts. I settled down in the San Francisco Bay area where I earned my graduate degree in Marriage and Family Counseling at San Francisco State University. From there, I obtained my license in California as a Marriage and Family Therapist.

Despite all this new success and different geography, I felt the same emotional and spiritual struggles of work, money, relationships, and personal identity as I had in New York. Challenging as that was, I believed I was “paying the price” now for the “reward” later: an ultimately fulfilling and lucrative career. I know now that this was part of my journey and the beginning of a new process of deep personal healing.

For almost 10 years, I saw clients in a private practice with offices located in San Francisco and Berkeley. Living and working in such a place of diversity, non-conformity, and embracement of all things non-traditional was at once exhilarating, agonizingly hard and absolutely invaluable. I was fortunate enough to work with a few amazing teachers and be supervised by a few wonderfully seasoned therapists who had done their own “inner work.” I grew to learn so much about my own internal world that had previously been under the cover of so much external clutter, that my inner self was beginning to change. Indeed, there were moments of great discomfort – feeling so vulnerable and raw – but these trusted others held my hand, so to speak, and guided me through this new Way of Being and toward the Light of Awareness and Consciousness.

Then, as many did after the tragedy of 9-11, I was moved to re-assess my life. Having had a daughter by then (who was only a year old), I realized that being so far away from the place I grew up, was not where I wanted to raise my child. I longed for a locale where the sun, the water, and the beauty of nature were easily and readily accessible all year long. San Francisco, with its perpetual fog and wind, was chilling my bones.

But this would mean a huge change. Could I once again shift geographically, this time with a partner and a kid in tow? It seemed the Universe was going to make the decision for me.

The attack on 9-11 was having a profound effect on so many jobs and careers – including mine – and consequently, what my partner and I imagined our security was all about: money. This was the beginning of a new lesson for me.

Having relatives in the southwest Florida area with a booming Home Inspection business (remember, this was the early 2000’s) that could be eventually ours, it seemed like we were being guided to a perfect destination. So, that year, my family and I responded to the “messages” signaling us to leave San Francisco, and we moved to Naples.

The transition was challenging for all of us – so much was unknown, and at the time, I did not have the experience and the tools I now have to keep all the fear and anxiety that accompanies ambiguity from taking over. Often, I vacillated between the euphoria that arose from the “potential” for a new life (my Soul speaking Truth to me), and dread that came with the fear that our future was doomed (my Ego’s attempt to limit me and keep me small).

Thankfully, I learned that all of what I was experiencing was in preparation for the purpose I have at this exact moment in my life (actually, all of us were in preparation for this exact moment in each of our lives and, including you…).

Things have changed dramatically since 2002, both in the world in general and in Southwest Florida in particular. While this area is still a beautiful place to look at, we all know how expensive it has become to fill our tanks, buy groceries, and pay our regular bills. How many of us rode the wave of the real estate market and now cannot afford to live in the homes we thought would continue to grow in value? And now that things are booming again, can we ever really feel secure in our investments?  Economic stress often translates into emotional stress. How many of us have had these stresses affect our intimate relationships?

And it’s not just the adults who are being affected. How many of our kids are confused about who they are supposed to be, how they are supposed to act, or just confused without even knowing why and behaving in ways we never would have imagined acting as children ourselves? How could they possibly know any of this when the world around them is changing at every turn?

Since moving to Naples, I have experienced many of these big and unexpected changes, too – both personally and professionally – divorce, illness, death, financial loss, to name a few. Although I did not always understand why I was given these challenges, I ultimately came to realize that the pain I was going through could be used as a way to heal and grow. There is no denying the feelings of sadness, the regret, the pain, the anger that have been directly related to all that has occurred, but, in accepting all these emotions, embracing them as part of the process, I also have come to know that these feelings, as big as they have felt, do not define me. I have felt them, I have acknowledged and accepted their impact, I have allowed them to flow through me, and miraculously, when I have allowed them their course, they lost their power over me. Rather, I have come to realize that all of these seemingly “negative” events have helped me to remember who I truly am and given me many opportunities to put the memory of that knowledge into practice by BEING the person I have come here be…

It has been an amazing process, and the more I come to trust the path I am on and the less attached I am to the outcome, the more peaceful I feel. When I began to look at some of the ways I used to identify who I was and how I measured my value, something started to shift. I began to feel less anxious, more calm and grounded. I know that inner Peace exists because I am able to experience it. Not all the time, and not always without some effort, but I now know that it is an ongoing process, and that it gets easier and more familiar the longer I stay with it.

Of course, my outer world still presents challenges – and it always will – this is a given. This is part of the nature of being Human in this physical world. These challenges give us the material which provides us the opportunity to dig deep and really come to know our selves and grow. Once we can do this, it becomes easier to find the Peace within, despite the turmoil of the outer world. And isn’t this really the purpose of having a life?

What is the meaning of our lives? To reach our highest potential? To become the fullest selves we can be? To be awake in the process of living? To choose how we will experience every moment, every interaction, every challenge?  To literally have the choice to be living in joy, with peace, through love…?

These questions are the foundation of my life; and the foundation of the work we do at Conscious Choices.

The unexamined life is not worth living.”  ~ Socrates

All you need is Love.”  ~ John Lennon

 

Email: [email protected]


Carol Cirabisi, MS, LMFT, PA verified by GoodTherapy.org
verified by Psychology Today

Marci Wise, MA, RMHCI

Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern

Education:

State College of Florida, Associate of Arts Degree in Psychology, 1986
University of South Florida, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications, 1989
Florida Gulf Coast University, Master of Arts Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, 2017

Services Provided:

  • Relationship Counseling.
  • Individual Psychotherapy.

Background:

Analytical from an early age, I remember watching my family’s interactions with a sense of detached curiosity. What made people act a certain way with each other? What were these forces that drew us together – and what pulled us apart from time to time? I was a student of human nature and longed to know more about the mysterious forces that were at play in our lives.

As I grew older, I combined my love of psychology with a degree in mass communications, working as a journalist, television producer and motivational author focused on helping people find more fulfillment in their daily lives. It was a road that led me to some interesting destinations and gave me a front row seat to witness life from a wide variety of angles; from the gritty aftermath of crimes and natural disasters – to the glitz and glamor of the rich and famous. Yet, underneath it all, there was an awareness of the human struggle, not just in others but also in myself.

Around 2006, while at the top of my game professionally, and happy to be a wife and mother, my world began to unravel from the inside out. My energy level fell drastically (for no apparent reason) as did my overall motivation for life. This new, hampered state affected all aspects of my existence – the ease of my relationship, satisfaction within my career, and my ability to be an effective parent. I was frightened that I was losing my grasp on all the things that I held most dear – and feared that I might lose them.  I was eventually diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder and, during the economic decline of 2007, laid-off from my job. It was a drastic stripping of my identity that challenged every idea of who ‘I thought I was.’

Little did I know at the time that this series of unfortunate events would become the biggest blessing of my life. While difficult and emotional, it forced me to “get real” about everything that I wanted – and everything that I stood for. While in the midst of the confusion I used my journalistic skills to research history for information on other people whose lives had drastically fallen apart, sending them into a tailspin. I found there were many – and discovered the concept of the “dark night of the soul” – a well-established pattern where desperate people eventually arise anew – stronger, wiser, and more connected to their ultimate purpose. My moments within the “dark night” were nothing short of miraculous. This powerful experience changed my life and showed me that through our darkest moments can come the greatest gifts. In fact, it lead me to document the experience in the book “Pain, Passion & Purpose.”

Not only had my circumstances changed, but I had changed as well. I was now clear on my own life path of helping people to heal and find clarity in their own moments of darkness. I began to spread the light – through an online radio show, as an inspirational magazine columnist, and by obtaining my master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling.

Since that time, I’ve helped clients deal with topics such as anxiety, trauma, relationship issues and human trafficking. I’ve worked to empower individuals to find greater life satisfaction. Along the way I’ve also developed a passion for teaching the tenets of mindfulness to enable clients to regain a cherished sense of inner peace. Yet, finding a counseling organization that understands this holistic union of mind, body and spirit has been a challenge. Discovering Conscious Choices, and realizing that there were indeed innovative people putting these life-changing methods into practice, was not only reassuring to me as a counselor – but inspiring to me as a person. I knew that I wanted to contribute my time and energies to the good work being here.

What I’ve discovered is that, as human beings, we have been designed to heal. Wherever pain presents itself is an opportunity for growth, if you can see beyond the immediate chaos. It is my honor and privilege to accompany others through their darkest moments and help them find the gifts contained within.

“The heart that breaks open can contain a whole Universe.” – Joanna Macy

Phone: 239.434.5855 

Email: [email protected]

Jill Johnson, MA, RMHCI

Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern

License #IMH13162
Relationship Counselor
Individual Psychotherapist

Education:

Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, MI.  Bachelor of Science: Leadership.  2010.

Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, MI.  Masters of Arts in Counseling.  2014

Services Provided:

  • Relationship Counseling.
  • Individual Psychotherapy.
  • Book Discussion Groups: Currently, “Rising Strong.” Click here for info.

Background:

I feel that my journey in becoming a therapist started with my own existential questions many years ago. As long as I can remember, as a child I asked the big questions. They were questions such as, why am I here? What is life about or supposed to be about? What is the purpose, my purpose here? Maybe this was my first awakening …I remember being a shy child that seemed to be on the outside looking in. I was observing, but curious and enjoyed watching people interact with each other.

As I grew into a teen I was confused, insecure and wondering where life would take me. I made choices that I thought were best but would bring me to a desperate place in my mid- twenties. I began to ask the big questions even louder and with more urgency for answers. At this point, I had lived long enough to experience some of life’s pains and disappointments, as well as emotional pain I felt from my own doubts, fears, loneliness, and insecurities.

I spent much of my years as many have, in what I call the land of confusion, frustration and insecurities; oftentimes, experiencing more emotional pain than love and joy in my life. I longed for peace in my heart and mind. I was seeking the “something more” in my life.  The part of me that could experience joy, love and lightness. I wanted to be able to love myself and others in a more authentic way.

My quest began….I picked up a couple of books such as A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson, as well as The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck.  These books began to feed my soul to the point that I experienced a newness to all of life. A new energy, vitality and a love for people that did not exist previously was present. I was aware of life through a new intuition. My soul/spirit was alive and active in everything I did.

The new energy that I was experiencing helped me to have the courage to begin the internal journey to know self. I desired some kind of direction and wanted to be able to put words to what was happening inside me. I read more books.

As I did, I was finding the wisdom I needed to begin to pay attention to my internal emotions and thoughts, as well as understanding the behavior that resulted from what was going on in my psyche. I began sharing what I was learning with trusted friends, which proved enriching because they too had some of the same challenges.

At this time I began to think that I would like to help people get to know themselves and the source of their own Authentic self within. I believe that there are many things that will motivate our lives but one that rises to the top is the goal of becoming “free to love.” To be able to love without hindrances from past wounds or insecurities. To heal and know my true essence self became a quest for me.

This quest turned into pursuing my education and rearranging my life goals in hopes that one day I would be able to help others grow, evolve, heal and love.

Through the years I worked as a nursing assistant as well as a veterinary assistant. The work was fulfilling because I felt I was helping others.

I recently completed a year internship at the Shelter for Abused Women and Children. I realize without my own challenges and continued growth I would not be fit to have the privilege of helping others with their own heart and life.I am grateful and happy to join the team at Conscious Choices. It is literally a dream come true.

I will end with a quote that speaks to our type of conscious counseling and what I believe to be true in the process of therapy…

“Only within yourself exists that other reality for which you long.  I can give you nothing that has not already its being within you.  I can throw open no picture gallery but your own soul.  All I can give you is the opportunity, the impulse, the key.”

~ Hermann Hesse

Phone: 239.434.5855 

Email: [email protected]

Bev Gostomski, MSW, LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Education:

State University of New York at Buffalo.  Master of Social Work.  B.A. Health and Human Services.  Summa Cum Laude

 Services Provided:

  • Relationship Counseling.
  • Individual Psychotherapy.

Background:

I am Buffalo, New York born and raised.  My journey that led me to where I am today began years ago. I decided to go to graduate school when I became a caregiver in my home for 7 ½ years for my elderly mother who had dementia.  At that time I had a daughter going off to college and a son just beginning high school.  It was a most demanding and challenging time of my life and my family’s life. 

Graduate school provided me the perfect outlet for growth, while simultaneously finding a place to focus my positive energy.  Ultimately, the Social Work field proved the best direction for me.  It aligned with my spiritual nature and my desire to help others.  I quickly developed a love for clinical counseling as it provided the opportunity to build relationships and connect with individuals, couples, and families. 

After graduating, I worked for 15 years at a small, private agency called CMH Counseling.  This became my home away from home and my co-workers were like family.  It truly was a special place.

While there, I provided both brief and long-term therapy.  I worked primarily with adults and did mostly individual and couples therapy.  A substantial portion of my caseload incorporated trauma work, which required a longer term commitment to therapy.  It was gratifying to see clients grow and experience positive life change over time. 

I provided relationship/marital, parent/child, life transition, coping/loss, independent functioning/personal growth, mood disorders, stress/anxiety, women’s issues, childhood sexual abuse, LGBT, effective communication skills in job settings, and personal relationship conflict resolution counseling.  I helped clients define their goals for treatment and incorporated a variety of therapeutic modalities to meet their individual needs.  As therapy is a collaborative process, I felt honored and humbled when clients let me into their world.  Building trust and providing a safe, non-judgmental environment was the highest priority for me.    

As my desire to leave the cold Buffalo winters increased, retiring to sunny Florida became an easy choice.  So, I relocated to Florida in January 2016. 

When the opportunity to join Conscious Choices arose, it appeared to be part of an on-going plan.  After meeting Carol and learning about this counseling center, it felt like coming home again.  I am excited to continue on this journey.  It is essential for me to feel aligned and connected with the beliefs and philosophies of the next step of my personal journey.  I have found this with Conscious Choices. 

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even
touched-they must be felt with the heart.”  ~ Helen Keller

“Only I can change my life.  No one can do it for me.”  ~ Carol Burnett

Email: [email protected]