“This work is not just what I chose to do, it’s truly who I am.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
I think this work is simply in my bones. The consistent throughline in my professional life is an affinity for working with children and families and a desire to understand people and relationships. From my first job as a babysitting entrepreneur at 13, all the way up to my current roles as a clinical supervisor and therapist, I’ve always found joy and satisfaction in helping others. Relating to people of all ages and backgrounds and seeing things from multiple angles have always come naturally to me. It took me awhile to realize that I could parlay these abilities into an actual career, but it's the best decision I have made. I’m constantly inspired by the resilience of my clients and the power that relationships have to heal and transform lives. This work is not just what I chose to do, it’s truly who I am.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
I am very invested in every client, couple, and family I work with. I take their time and progress very seriously because I know the ripple effect that our work can have in their lives. At the same time, I’m realistic about the process of change—it can be hard and very daunting. So, I do my best to create an environment in which clients feel safe, seen, heard, and supported. The more we can be ourselves in therapy, the better the outcome will be—just like in any relationship! My working style is collaborative and directive at the same time—I am here to listen, give feedback, and supportively challenge you when necessary. I may also occasionally assign “homework” to help reinforce our work in between sessions.
What do you think is the biggest barrier today for people seeking care?
For some, it’s emotional: Fear, pride, misconceptions about therapy, and/or a distrust of professional helpers can make it difficult for some people to start therapy. Some ethnic or cultural groups have deep legacies of racial discrimination and exploitation, specifically related to healthcare, so hesitation can be well-founded. For others, it’s logistical: Limited access, finances, or scheduling constraints can get in the way. But in general, making ourselves a priority and setting time aside to do this work are usually the hardest parts. Some need a crisis before they can get there, while others find a way to make moves before things get really serious. Starting is both the hardest and the simplest part of the process.
If there was one thing you wish people knew about the therapy experience who might be hesitant to try it, what would that be?
I think that some people would be surprised to know that therapy isn’t just about being analyzed or told what to do. It can actually be a very collaborative and dynamic process—and much of it is determined by what you bring to the table. Think of it as an opportunity to have a nonjudgmental coach in your corner. Someone with the time and distance needed to see your strengths and your situation from different angles and help you experiment with new approaches. And the truth is, if we aren’t more intentional about figuring out our own “stuff,” we run the risk of passing along our pain to our loved ones. If you’ve tried therapy before and it “didn’t work,” I’d encourage you to keep looking—the effectiveness of therapy is largely based on the goodness of fit between the client and the therapist.
What do you think makes a good therapist?
Aside from the obvious qualities—approachability, empathy, compassion, patience, an open mind, and solid clinical skills—I think what's ultimately most important is the willingness to engage and remain curious about people, cultures, and environments outside of your own circle. Therapists who are hungry to learn, willing to be wrong, and serious about their own growth and development, I think, tend to be more engaged, resourceful, and authentic. I also believe that having your own share of personal and/or professional struggles can prepare you to be more effective because you’ll have a frame of reference—a perspective on helping or being helped that isn't just theoretical. And lastly, I would say that the best therapists have a relentless sense of wonder, joy, and hope for their clients—and for the whole world, really.
“Starting is both the hardest and the simplest part of the process.”
Interested in speaking with Jennifer?