“I am convinced that owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.”—Brené Brown
This. This is it. This quote has been sitting in my office right behind my computer for much of my professional life. As I think about what this office space has been about and what happens within these walls, this is exactly it.
We each have a story to tell and a history that has influenced exactly who we are right now… the good, the bad, the messy, and the powerful.
When I think about my own formation starting as a little girl, I see that there has been much joy. I was raised in a loving family, with three older sisters. I built forts, played with dolls, danced in the family room, and made some life-long friends. As an adult, I married a supportive husband, have the privilege to raise three amazing little humans, and am fortunate to be the aunt to 21 nieces and nephews. Family has meant everything.
It’s easy to reflect on the good stuff and those fun, carefree moments, when things seemed to be going “just right”. They make me smile and likely formed the fun-loving, grateful side of me, which has certainly allowed me to enjoy life and also has come to my own rescue when life has gotten hard.
But when I really sit and reflect, it was my messy moments, the ones I would never have asked for, that had the biggest impact, challenged me the most, and really formed and shaped much of who I am today. These were the times I couldn’t find my place, felt misunderstood, compared myself to others, had motherhood challenges (oh, so many), and had conflict in important relationships in my life. I also endured times of true heartache including miscarriage, unexpected tragedy, watching loved ones with life threatening illnesses, and most pivotal in my life, the death of my mom.
These moments showed my weaknesses, allowed true vulnerability, pushed me to take risks, allowed me to really rely on supports around me and to see what true support looks like. They helped me grow even when it was painful. They’ve evolved me into a person and professional that appreciates the messy and prefers it to the “I have it all together”.
No one asks for the pain that comes in this life or for mental health challenges. Though, I have seen the most amazing stories transform through taking the terrifying step of asking for help and surrendering to the process.
I believe therapy is a place to be seen, really seen, a space to allow gut-wrenching vulnerability, to be challenged, and to grow into the person we have been held back from becoming. It is a space where you have the opportunity to pause, reflect, break, start breathing again, learn to grow, and then go live this life stronger and more fully than ever thought possible. When we are able to truly own our story and use the strengths that are within us to heal, we are unstoppable.
As a therapist, it is an honor to be a part of your journey, to be able to provide a safe space to be seen and heard, to drop the daily walls, and to wrestle through the hard, so you can grow into exactly what you and the world needs. I look forward to being a part of your hope, healing, and transformation story.
Dr. Sarah Lavanier is a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr. Lavanier received her doctoral degree from Xavier University. She completed her internship at Counseling and Diagnostics Center in Erlanger, KY and the Lindner Center of HOPE (LCOH) in Mason, OH. Her post-doctoral fellowship was completed at LCOH through the Harold C. Schott Eating Disorders Program. This training was the start of a 12-year career journey as a psychologist at LCOH, most recently serving as the Clinical Director of the Eating Disorders Program, where she managed a multidisciplinary team, supervised psychology trainees, and provided treatment on every level of care at the hospital. She also served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati and worked as a Consulting Psychologist for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She was a member of the Women’s Mental Health Program, OCD and Anxiety Program, and the DBT/RO-DBT Program. Prior to her time at LCOH, Dr. Lavanier spent over 6 years at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center providing support for adolescent mood and anxiety disorders research. She also has experience working in university and school-based settings and providing advocacy support for sexual assault survivors.
Dr. Lavanier specializes in women’s mental health, eating disorders, body image, grief, faith connection, OCD, anxiety, and depression. She is trained in a broad range of behavioral treatment modalities (e.g. DBT, RO-DBT, CBT, FBT, ERP), and rooted in a values-driven, client-centered approach. She is an active member of the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals and is a Certified Eating Disorders Specialist. She enjoys group work and speaking on topics around body image, eating disorders, and women’s mental health. Her goal in treatment is to empower her clients to share their story, to see the beauty in vulnerability, to embrace self-compassion, to honor the healing and growth process, and to ultimately thrive in the life they were made for.
- Growing older is a privilege, not a curse.
- There are no good or bad foods.
- Women help the world (households, work environments, communities, etc.) go round.
- Moms need other moms. The “it takes a village” thing is no joke.
- Vulnerability is key for true genuine connection.
- Being your own best friend is the best gift you can give yourself.
- We have the opportunity to learn the most in our messy and broken times…the parts we never would have wished for.
- Perfection is very much overrated and striving for it keeps people at a distance.
- At our core, we all just want to be seen, heard, and loved for exactly who we are.
- We all wear masks daily, though we are most beautiful when we take them off.
- Women are most impactful when we build each other up, rather than tear each other down.
- Life is not a competition. Run your own race, not someone else’s.
- There is always so much more to someone’s story.
Dr. Lavanier is knowledgeable, caring, and empathic. Her expertise in eating disorders and postpartum mental health issues makes her an excellent resource for women in the area. I would refer my own family and friends to her.
Danielle Johnson, MD, FAPA
Chief Medical Officer
Director, Women’s Mental Health Program
Lindner Center of HOPE/UC Health
I am so immensely grateful to have worked with Sarah. She is a sound clinician with such a wholesome heart. She led me through the lowest points of my life to a future that has been reclaimed. Sarah helped me believe that I was worthy and challenged me to own my struggle. She never let me give up, even when I desperately wanted to. I found freedom from my demons and I owe that to my work with Sarah.
- Former Patient
Dr. Lavanier finds the perfect balance of empathy, authenticity, and clinical judgment. Her passion shines through in the work that she does, and she is among my top referrals for therapy!
Elizabeth Mariutto, Psy.D, CEDS
Clinical Director of Eating Disorders Services
Lindner Center of HOPE
Get your free Mental Wellness Self-Assessment
For guidance, inspiration, and the scoop on our goings on, join our community list. You'll also get your "Mental Wellness Self-Assessment (+ Our Top Five Tools to Up Your Mental Health Game)" in your inbox right away.