The Banyan tree is remarkable for the way it grows: a single older tree can          produce branches that bend down to the ground to form new roots and new trees.  It’s growth is a magical demonstration of the fertility and power of Nature.  The Banyan is known in India and Hawaii as the Grandfather (or Grandmother) tree. Because an individual tree can grow to become a sheltering forest, the Banyan is  a lovely metaphor for the healing process in therapy.  The relationship between the one and the many brings to mind the individual and the community, or the many parts of the self and the whole Self.




Sally H. Darley, LCSW

New Leaf Wellness Building,     222 N. Verde, Flagstaff, AZ  86001

                                                                                   Phone: (319) 621-4306      Email:




I have been in private practice since 2005.

Since my LMSW degree in 2001, I have 17 years of experience working with people who are facing:

♦  Family or relationship struggles   ♦ Life transitions, including divorce, job change, and aging  ♦  Grief and losses of any kind

♦ LGBTQ issues

♦Anxiety and/or Depression  ♦  Post-traumatic stress  ♦  Bi-polar disorder

I provide Play Therapy for children ages 4 – 10, and work with parents on effective strategies for coping with children’s developmental stages, behavioral problems,and  experiences of grief and loss.  One characteristic of my practice is my use of HUMOR.

Insurance: Currently accepting Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Aetna, Cigna, and United Healthcare (Optum).


After college in Wisconsin (Lawrence University) I studied on a Fulbright grant in Strasbourg, France.  I earned a Ph.D in English Literature in 1976.  I have 3 grown children, whose father died when they were 19, 18, and 12 years old.  I had wanted to work in the bereavement outreach program at Iowa City Hospice, and I was able to do this for a year in 2004.  I coordinated the individual therapy and groups for chldren and teens who had lost loved ones at Hospice, and taught child development and healthy parenting to teens at the United Action for Youth agency in Iowa City.  I also worked for a foster care agency, using the healing models of Play Therapy to work with children in grief who had been removed from their homes.

I  was a volunteer on the Crisis Line at the Crisis Center in Iowa City, and was a Big Sister for 5 years with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Iowa City.

What is therapy and how does it work?

” Therapy” includes the more practical decision-making goals of counseling, but adds the element of deeper emotional exploration.  The process is similar: the client’s personal goals are the guideline, and client and clinician work together to create a safe space of complete trust. The process moves through the identification of wounds, strengths, needs, toward greater confidence in emotional resilience (the ability to tolerate distress).  We humans are fragile creatures, and we are often overwhelmed by circumstances or changes in our relationships.  These setbacks affect our sense of self.  We often struggle to maintain a feeling of safety in the world, especially when we realize we have very little control over the  things and people we would most like to control.

Therapy is a highly individualized experience that offers many benefits.  A good therapy experience begins with and continues to focus on tools  that create a sense of control over the relaxation response: breathwork, guided imagery, mindfulness. The focus on lowering heart rate and reducing the fight/flight/freeze response can help people develop greater confidence in coping with stressful situations.  The process involves  risk and work.  The risks may include becoming aware of uncomfortable feelings, learning strategies for tolerating and accepting them, in order to release them more effectively. Therapy is about changing the thoughts and behaviors that keep us stuck in habits that constrain or harm us.  Since every therapeutic experience is unique, please give me continual feedback about personal goals; they may change during the course of therapy.  In the end, most people’s goals evolve to include a more meaningful self-awareness and a greater sense of connectedness with other people.

It is the relationship between client and therapist that is the fundamental and essential ingredient in all forms of psychotherapy.  The therapist strives to listen deeply, to understand, to offer support, to challenge sometimes—to be objective or provide a reality check—but all in the context of TRUST and CONFIDENTIALITY.


If you would like to view a presentation I made on my use of the grief lens in therapy, it is on YouTube: “Varieties of Grief.”  This talk was to the members of  the Northern Arizona Psychological Society (local psychologists and social workers) August 19, 2016.

The grief lens is key, I believe, because so many of the losses we experience–that are perhaps connected to a death but can be experienced without the death of a loved one–are not recognized socially.  It is difficult to give ourselves permission to grieve, when people tend to admire stoicism: “She is so strong.  She was back at work a week later.”  And our lesser losses, which can include geographic losses, financial losses. job loss, loss of status, age-related losses and limbo-state losses (prolonged uncertainty) are difficult to mourn publically.  They make us feel weak, because they are blows to our sense of SELF.  Who am I, now that this has happened to me?  We are socially embedded beings, and we all seem to need daily validation.  Loss isolates us, and causes us to question our sense of personal safety in the world.  Grief is the natural response to loss, and can lead to deeper questions of self-identity and, especially, the MEANING of our lives.  It is this catalyst of the search for meaning in the face of what feels meaningless that can lead to personal growth.

In addition to the inner chaos we experience after the death of a loved one, many of these “lesser losses” trigger a state of anxiety and/or depression. The social taboo against these illness adds to a sense of being “less than.”  In this age of Facebook, we are burdened with comparison-making.  Other people’s lives look more “successful” materially, and happier.  We tend to put too much energy into creating facades, fake selves, to match what we think is the “successful” or “perfect” lives we imagine others are living.  It is a refreshing realization when we can see that others are secretly doing the same thing.  This realization can inspire a more creative understanding of what lasts, what is most meaningful, in our lives.  As Victor Frankl writes, in Man’s Search for Meaning, happiness cannot be won solely by pursuing it; it is a by-product of the pursuit of meaning.

Therapy can help to untie the knot of thoughts and emotions that make up the background noise in our minds.  The process can help clarify values and solidify a commitment to these values.


There are very few truly comforting words, but these have been helpful to me:

—from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet”:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. . . Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them and the point is to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

“You have many sadnesses, large ones, which passed.  And you say that even this passing has been difficult for you.  But please ask youself . . if perhaps . . .things inside you have transformed.   Perhaps we could bear our sadnesses with greater trust . . .for  they are the moments when something new has entered us, something unknown.

“If you trust in Nature, in the Small Things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly be come huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone  who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then  everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind, perhaps, which stays behind astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness and knowledge.”

From Rumi, 13th Century mystic

The Guest House

This being human is a guest-house
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture.
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

 –-from a Chippewa song:

I go about pitying myself
While I am carried by
The great winds
Across the sky.