Jennifer-PhotoI believe therapy is a way to develop a secure connection that can be rare in everyday life. Developing this connection allows one a space to express authentically what may have been hidden or not heard. Within the safety of this space, real change can begin to occur. So often we believe that by applying reason and willpower to an issue we can instigate change, and are left feeling defeated in the end. In therapy, we get the chance to take these moments of defeat and transform them. Together, we can reorganize, reorient, gain hope, and live more satisfying lives.

As a therapist, my training is as a generalist. I enjoy treating clients across the spectrum of primary concerns. Understanding relationships as part of the fabric of who we are and how we were shaped is a fundamental aspect of my practice. I have skill in treating people who have relationship concerns and relational wounds that they want to work to heal. Building a relationship with someone, whatever the reason that brings them in, and beginning to understand their life as a whole is a uniquely engaging process for me. I particularly enjoy creating long-term relationships in which we are consistently deepening feeling, increasing understanding, and nurturing the capacity for sustaining growth. I respect the multilayered diversity inherent in each person. I find it vital to create a safe space across the many identities my client may hold and am particularly motivated to create space for people who have traditionally struggled to find acceptance.

There are also specific emphasis areas in which I have obtained additional training. I have experience in delivering couples therapy in the Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) model. This has become a passion of mine. I enjoy the process of helping couples to understand their concerns from a different lens, to connect to their needs and fears, and to find relief and increased safety with each other. I also have developed a specialty in the treatment of eating disorders. I have worked in a setting that provided a higher level of care for eating disorders and now work on an outpatient basis in conjunction with local dietitians and primary care providers to provide holistic treatment for those whose level of severity allows.

Professional Bio

Dr. Jennifer Sand Canales, Ph.D. is a licensed counseling psychologist in private practice in West Des Moines, IA. She received her doctorate from Arizona State University (ASU) in 2008. She has worked in college counseling center settings including at ASU and at the University of California–Davis, where she completed her pre-doctoral internship and postdoctoral training. While there, Dr. Canales excelled in providing counseling services for students and in her role in the Multicultural Immersion Program, providing social justice-oriented education for the student body. After licensure, she became a staff psychologist at Summit Eating Disorders & Outreach Program (now Eating Recovery Center of California) for three years working in the Partial Hospitalization Program and Intensive Outpatient Program. Through continued training, she has become passionate about the art of psychotherapy, attachment-based therapy, couples therapy, and long-term therapy.

At the West Des Moines Center for Psychotherapy, Dr. Canales treats individuals and couples. She and her husband regularly facilitate weekend couples workshops to share EFT and this vital way of enhancing safety and security with each other through skills from the book Hold Me Tight. She has also provided psychoeducational seminars on EFT and on attachment-based therapies for therapists.