You’re not alone – I’ve been there, too.

I grew up in a family of educators, excelling in language-based coursework while failing dismally at anything related to math. I was constantly told I needed to try harder, pay closer attention, and stop making careless mistakes.

Behaviorally, I flew under the radar at school. But at home, I grew up thinking I was always in trouble. “Calm down, sit still. Are you listening?”

Advice or admonishment, neither was very helpful. My anxiety grew, and I felt defeated. Negative self-talk haunted me. My academics, creativity, social life, and family relationships all suffered.

The explanation for the way I learn came later.

After failing five math classes in college, a family friend who taught special education suggested I get tested for a learning disability, something no one had yet to advise. That suggestion was the catalyst for one of the best days of my life: the revelation that I wasn’t stupid; I simply learn differently. Today I understand that I’m neurodivergent.

Like many women, my ADHD diagnosis came much later, well into adulthood. The various diagnoses offered back in college finally fit together, completing the puzzle and making total sense of those careless mistakes, forgetfulness, auditory processing issues, organizational challenges, day dreaming, procrastination, imposter syndrome, and anxiety.

ADHD also explains my superpowers: insatiable curiosity, hyper-focus ability, and the genuine excitement about many diverse interests.

Using therapy to learn more about my diagnoses and work through past hurts, I’ve been able to reframe my experiences, capitalize on my strengths, develop coping strategies, and advocate for myself (and others), ultimately leading me to a more fulfilling and empowered life.

My experiences have shaped my approach to clinical practice.

My own struggles have motivated me to be of service to others.  Whether grappling with learning differences, anxiety, insomnia, finding myself in the “Sandwich Generation,” caring for (and losing) aging parents, or parenting children with special needs, I have found resources and insights that seem important to share.

I was an adoption social worker (domestic + international) for many years, evaluating, training, and supervising pre-adoptive parents, working with teen and adult adoptees engaged in search and reunion as well as birth country travel, and supporting transracial adoptive families.

This led me to build my family via transracial adoption. I’m proud to identify as an adoption-competent clinician (we are sometimes hard to find!). For me, parenting requires my unrelenting commitment to racial justice, constant advocacy around learning issues and limb differences, and creating space for early childhood grief, loss, and trauma.

Anxiety and grief have been my companions since childhood and are common threads in my clinical work. As a trauma-focused, anti-oppressive, anti-racist therapist, it has been my great honor to serve children + families, older adults, the incarcerated, veterans, actors, artists, filmmakers, freelance creatives, neurodiverse and LGBTQIA+ individuals, and students of all ages.

About Me

A Clinician in Academia

A significant part of my career has been in social work education. For the past 15+ years, I’ve loved teaching social work students at Texas State University. I’ve enjoyed researching, writing, and developing curricula related to clinical issues in adoption, spirituality, funerals, and grief.


Ph.D., Clinical Social Work, New York University
MSW, Clinical Social Work, Columbia University
MS Ed., Special Education, Bank Street College of Education
BSW, Social Work, Florida State University

Post-Graduate Certificate in Adoption Therapy, CUNY Hunter College School of Social Work
Post-Graduate Certificate in Spirituality and Social Work, New York University
Clinical Hypnosis, Certified, American Society of Clinical Hypnosis
Trauma-Informed Hypnotherapy, National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)

Outside of work, I love to do all the things!

I’m a creative who indulges in textiles and mixed media (you can see some of my work at laurasummerhill.com). I love the beach, riding my parent’s vintage bicycle built for two with my kids, my husband’s music, podcasts in the carpool line, boiled peanuts, Tom Petty, and a good book at the end of the day. My prized possessions are my passport and my library card.

Mindfulness and spiritual practices are an integral part of my life. I am trained in Transcendental Meditation, Path of Freedom by Prison Mindfulness Institute, and am active in my faith community.

Community engagement is important to me. I’ve volunteered with The Ties Program, supporting international adoptees participating in birth country travel, Girls Scouts, and teaching ESL. I enjoy volunteering with incarcerated mothers via the Women’s Storybook Project of Texas, talking with community groups about anxiety and grief, and leading workshops on art + creativity. I look forward to supporting veterans with Operation Red Wings Foundation in 2024.