Therapist, writer Dianna Grayer loves to help others

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AT A GLANCE

Name: Dianna Grayer

Age: 58

Occupation: Marriage and family therapist, core faculty member at Meridian University, Petaluma in the psychology program; author.

Family: Wife: Sheridan Gold, foster child, one dog, two cats, llamas.

Education: Bachelors in recreation at San Francisco State University, master’s degree in counseling from Sonoma State University and Ph.D. from Meridian University, Petaluma in psychology.

Hometown: Baton Rough, Louisiana; been in Petaluma 18 years, having moved here from Marin County.

Community service: I serve food to the homeless community and to those in need every year and offer empowerment via my art, including spoken word, poetry and books. I also appeared in the “Powerful Women Within” presentation as part of Petaluma’s celebration of Women’s History Month.

Award: Inducted into San Francisco State University’s Hall of Fame in 1980 for basketball.

Hobbies: Writing, playing games, hiking and being in nature, especially the beach.

Reading: “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle

Favorite Petaluma-area hangout: Redwood Club.

Website: diannagrayer.com.

Petaluma-based marriage and family therapist Dianna Grayer loves her work and her town.

Learning at a young age to adapt to whatever life threw at her, the Louisiana native found her way to San Francisco State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree before taking a job in a group home for troubled youth. During her time in that post, she become convinced it was time for her to do more, feeling that she had the potential to give more to her clients.

“I knew I was limited in just being a counselor for them, so I went back to school to take psychology classes with the thought of having more to offer the kids I worked with,” she said.

She completed an internship with Petaluma People Services Center, and finding that she loved the town, moved to Petaluma with her family a short time later.

Grayer, 58, set up a private practice in an office in the McNear Building in 1997, and she’s seen hundreds of clients in the subsequent years. She feels inspired by figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and by the perseverance of her mother who “never gave up, no matter what hardship beset her while raising us five kids.”

“I want to inspire, to motivate people to live authentic lives,” she said. “A metaphor I use in practice is that people live in boxes. I try to help them melt those walls. It’s most important to me to be free to be who I am and that’s what I do in my practice, to motivate people to change the things that are holding them back. I love to see people change.”

It was while she was studying at Sonoma State University that Grayer was inspired to begin writing. Since then, she’s penned several children’s books as well as a self-help workbook.

“As I moved along in my studies and internship, all these feelings surfaced and my creative juices started flowing and then came pouring out,” she said. “I would get an idea and the rest just flowed naturally.”

Grayer, who was recently part of the original women’s empowerment piece “Powerful Women Within,” performed by a Petaluma-based troupe, found herself inspired to write her own play, titled “Private Lives Private Lies.” The performance delves into themes such as relationship discord, addiction, discrimination and rejection in the lives of eight people in the lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual community.

The play features 17 cast members, and Grayer initially acted as the director and producer, while handling all the marketing and stage management until she was able to get more hands on deck.

“I had never written a play before and it became the most challenging and uplifting thing I have ever done,” she said. “Doing this play has been so rewarding. My cast members tell me their lives are changing over the months of rehearsal.”

“Private Lives Private Lies” will be held at 7 p.m. April 1 and 2, and at 2 p.m. April 3 at the Graton Community Club at 8996 Graton Road.

For more information or for tickets, visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2510068.

(Contact Lynn Schnitzer at argus@arguscourier.com.)

AT A GLANCE

Name: Dianna Grayer

Age: 58

Occupation: Marriage and family therapist, core faculty member at Meridian University, Petaluma in the psychology program; author.

Family: Wife: Sheridan Gold, foster child, one dog, two cats, llamas.

Education: Bachelors in recreation at San Francisco State University, master’s degree in counseling from Sonoma State University and Ph.D. from Meridian University, Petaluma in psychology.

Hometown: Baton Rough, Louisiana; been in Petaluma 18 years, having moved here from Marin County.

Community service: I serve food to the homeless community and to those in need every year and offer empowerment via my art, including spoken word, poetry and books. I also appeared in the “Powerful Women Within” presentation as part of Petaluma’s celebration of Women’s History Month.

Award: Inducted into San Francisco State University’s Hall of Fame in 1980 for basketball.

Hobbies: Writing, playing games, hiking and being in nature, especially the beach.

Reading: “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle

Favorite Petaluma-area hangout: Redwood Club.

Website: diannagrayer.com.

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