“I very much believe that clients heal themselves and that the counselor is there to assist them on their journey.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
Before entering the mental health field, I was in the construction and development industry and felt the need to accomplish something more with my life. I started volunteering in my community and got involved with at-risk teens and families going through difficult situations. One of the professionals I was working with at the time saw that I was good at it and suggested I become licensed, so I reentered the world of academia and realized that mental health was my calling. Effecting positive change and relieving some of the pain in this world gives me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that my original career never did.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
I very much believe that clients heal themselves and that the counselor is there to assist them on their journey. I view myself as a guide and put a great emphasis on psychoeducation. I work with my clients to help them gain self-awareness and discover what’s causing their pain. In the first few sessions, I focus on getting to know the client and helping the client get to know his or herself better. By the third or fourth session, the client knows what makes them tick, what motivates them, and what holds them back. Then, together, we lay out a treatment plan to tackle the issues at hand—one that includes goals, homework, and medication when needed.
What do you think is the biggest barrier today for people seeking care?
Affordability. Private insurance companies won’t cover mental health as much as they do physical health, which is incredibly detrimental to their clients. When people can’t get the proper help to address their mental health concerns, it can affect other areas of their lives. I believe that mental health issues can often be far more serious than bodily dysfunction because they can break our spirits. When the body is sick, the soul can help us to a certain extent and offer solace. But when the mind is sick, who offers solace or comfort? We need better coverage so that we can all get the mental health treatment we need.
If there was one thing you wish people knew about the therapy experience who might be hesitant to try it, what would that be?
Therapy is not an enigma. When we talk to our friends and discuss our feelings or our problems, we’re doing a form of therapy. But the benefits of going to a professional rather than a friend is that the professional is objective and able to advise you without judgment or any subconscious motives or biases. He or she is strictly there to assist you with your dilemma. A professional is also sensitive to the nuances of emotion, defense mechanisms, and trained in treatments that can help. We can work to heal the underlying emotional pain rather than simply provide a listening ear, which, while helpful, may not go far enough.
If you could pick one or two books that influenced your approach to therapy, what would they be and why?
Viktor Frankl’s “Man's Search for Meaning.” As Frankl wrote, we were born to “carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein [we] cannot be replaced, nor can [our] life be repeated, thus, everyone's task is unique, as [is the] specific opportunity to implement it.” I believe in Frankl’s words. Every human being was created with his or her specific mission in life, and our environment, from our microsystems to our macrosystems, are perfectly structured to fulfill our missions. But determining our unique role in life can feel difficult—that’s where self-study, an important part of my therapeutic approach, comes into the picture.
“Determining our unique role in life can feel difficult — that’s where self-study, an important part of my therapeutic approach, comes into the picture.”