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Meet River Chew

Supervisor: Caitlin McNeece, LCSW, Missouri License #: 2018043915



Individual with a blue hoodie on while sitting in from of trees and smiling directly into the camera.
River Chew, MSW, LMSW, REAT-IT (they/them)

River is a Licensed Master Social Worker, and Expressive Arts Therapist In-Training, who specializes in trauma and eating disorder treatment. They are passionate about the healing power of creative expression and believes that creativity belongs to everyone. River enjoys working with folks who feel that they are not “creative enough” to express themselves through art and reminds everyone that unlearning shame or self-criticism that we feel towards our creative abilities can be an important step towards viewing ourselves with compassion.


River believes that fulfilling relationships and healthy communication with others are built on a foundation of self-compassion and safety. They specialize in working with folks dealing with trauma and disordered eating, and bring this expertise into their work by helping clients connect to their bodies and relate to themselves with kindness and respect.


River is also passionate about creating space for folks who have been marginalized based on their identities and experiences, and they are dedicated to ongoing learning about how to foster an inclusive, anti-oppressive therapy environment. River is knowledgeable about kink and BDSM communities, polyamory, d/Deaf and hard of hearing communities, and neurodivergent identities. They strive to create a therapeutic space where folks with these and other marginalized identities can feel safe, understood, and valued.


In addition to their work as a therapist, River is also an artist, poet, researcher, and educator. They are the founder of A New Voice, where they provide queer- and trans-affirming support groups, coaching, and consultation services.


two people embracing. black shirt reads "no homophobia, no violence, no racism, no sexism, yes kindness, yes peace, yes equality, yes love

Specialty areas

  • Developmental trauma and complex PTSD

  • Eating disorders

  • Trans and queer identity exploration

  • Adult survivors of child sexual abuse

  • Child-on-child sexual abuse (COCSA)

  • Body image concerns

  • Gender dysphoria

  • Vicarious trauma

  • Self-harm and suicidality

  • Substance use and addiction

Modalities/approaches

  • Expressive Arts Therapy

  • Internal Family Systems (IFS)

  • Psychodrama

  • Drama Therapy

  • Sand Tray Therapy

  • Person-Centered Therapy

  • Relational Cultural Therapy

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Certifications

  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

  • Registered Expressive Arts Therapist - In Training (REAT-IT)

  • Trauma Informed Expressive Arts Therapist (EXAT), in progress

Education

  • Washington University in St. Louis, Master of Social Work, concentration in Violence and Injury Prevention

  • Washington University in St. Louis, Bachelor of Arts in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Schedule a FREE consultation today and learn how I can help!


 

Group therapy offerings


Nurturing our Needs: Expressive Arts Therapy Group for Eating Recovery

In this this 6-week therapy group, clients will explore how their emotional needs impact their relationship with food and eating. They will engage in creative approaches to build self-care practices and compassion for their bodies. Learn more and register here.

 

FAQs

What is your availability?

My general availability is Sunday through Tuesday.

Where are sessions held?

What are your rates?

Do you accept insurance?

What is your cancellation policy?

 

More from River: My Beliefs About Healing

acrylic self-portrait of River Chew

One thing I often ask clients to do when we begin working together is to create a list of their core beliefs about themselves and the world. For so many of us, the lessons we learned in our past, especially as young children, stick with us for the rest of our life. We may have beliefs about our worth as people, our bodies, our relationships, and many other aspects of our lives. These beliefs can have a profound influence on the trajectory of our lives, and they are often at the root of our struggles with mental health.


Creating a list of core beliefs helps me start to get to know my clients. It gives me an idea of what topics we may want to discuss, or what therapy modalities might be most helpful. And it helps me understand why someone is coming to therapy in the first place, and what might help them experience relief from pain and stress.


But therapy is not a one-way relationship. Just like I need to know about my client’s beliefs to help provide them with the best possible support, clients need to know something about my beliefs in order to feel safe and comfortable working with me. As a therapist who is in recovery from my own mental health struggles, I value showing up authentically and speaking to my own experience when I interact with clients.


I share this because I know that clients need to know something about me as a person and as a therapist, in order to trust me to walk alongside them on their healing journey. So, in a first step towards building that trust, here are four of my core beliefs about what it means to heal from mental illness, and how I bring them into my work as a therapist:



1. I believe that healing happens in relationships.


Both research and my personal experiences tell me that the specific techniques a therapist uses aren’t as important as the therapeutic relationship itself. Because so many of us have experienced trauma or pain in relationships with others, experiencing a healthy and supportive therapeutic relationship can help us rebuild the capacity to trust others and show up as our authentic selves.


I know that personally, I don’t look back on my journey in therapy and think much about the times I sat in my therapist’s office tossing a ball back and forth for bilateral stimulation while we did EMDR, or pressing my hands into the carpet while we worked through a grounding exercise. Instead, I remember the times when I told her secrets that I was deeply ashamed of, or things that I had never even spoken aloud to myself, and she responded with care and respect, and without judgment. I remember what it felt like to be in a place where I felt safe, and accepted for who I truly am.


In my work with clients, my main goal is always about connection and building relationships. I want to do what I can to make sure you feel safe enough to show up as your authentic self.


2. I believe that freedom of choice is at the root of healing.


So often, the pain we experience during our lives comes from feelings of powerlessness. When we feel that our ability to choose has been taken away from us, our nervous system perceives this as a threat. On one hand, we may start to believe that we need to be totally independent from others in order to protect our freedom and safety. On the other hand, we may develop a belief that we must give up our right to make choices in order to keep ourselves safe from harm. Both of these beliefs can make it hard for us to relate to our loved ones in a healthy way.


I believe that my job as a therapist is to do my absolute best to help you regain a sense of empowerment in your life. That means that, whenever it is possible, I will protect your right to make choices about your own treatment. You get to define what recovery means and looks like for you. That isn’t my decision to make.


To support your freedom of choice, I operate from a harm-reduction framework. Together, we can learn what your definition of healing looks like, and what you believe is the best way to achieve that.


3. I believe that creative expression is inherently healing.


Many trauma therapists will tell you that creating a narrative about our painful experiences–why and how they happened, and what they mean–is an important part of the healing process. I believe this, but I know from both research and experience that trauma impacts our memories and can make it difficult or even impossible to create a narrative that feels cohesive or logical.


Creative expression–through art, music, dance, drama, and play–provides a path for us to tell our stories even when we have incomplete or confusing memories of our traumatic or painful life experiences: a particular image may communicate the intense pain we feel; a particular song may help us connect to and understand our grief; creative writing may give us space to tell our stories in the non-linear ways they exist inside of our minds.


Creative expression and storytelling have been an incredibly important part of my own healing process, and I believe that they can help other folks find recovery as well. Whether it’s through acting out a scene, writing poetry, creating art, or anything else that feels right to you, we can work together to help you find the best way to tell your story.


4. I believe that connecting to our sense of safety helps us heal.


In my experience, our struggles with mental health are almost always tangled up with our efforts to seek out a sense of safety. When we struggle with anxiety, we are often on high alert because our nervous system wants to make sure we stay physically or emotionally safe. When we struggle with addiction, we may be using substances or compulsive behaviors to numb scary emotions so that we can feel calm and safe in our bodies. These strategies help protect us in some ways, but they also can hurt us as well. And so often they leave us feeling disconnected from our physical bodies.


My hope is that by sharing these beliefs with you, you can learn a bit more about who I am, and how I show up, both as a person and as a therapist. Therapy is, first and foremost, about building a relationship and finding a space where we feel safe enough to be honest and authentic with ourselves, and with others. The work isn’t about changing who we are. It’s about learning how to be who we are, instead of who we think we’re supposed to be. If you think that we might be a good fit to work together, you can schedule a free consultation with me by clicking the link below.



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