Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Little Bit About Myself

Hi there! Welcome to the Forward Recovery blog. Some people know I’ve been around a while. I started up my practice shortly after beginning my post masters internship almost 3 years ago. Now that I’m fully licensed and completed my training, I have decided to relaunch my practice. I got an awesome new office:

And I’ve rolled out a new website.  And now you can even log into my online portal for scheduling and journaling and all kinds of great stuff.  I am even launching a brand new endeavor – corporate mental health coaching.  I will get into more of that in a minute.
I want to share a little bit of my story first – my journey to becoming a therapist and coach.  It started out several years ago when I was working at a Tampa law office.  What I will say about that is it wasn’t for me.  Perhaps it was the style of the firm, I don’t know, but I felt dirty doing the work.  It seemed our job was to try to prevent people who had gotten hurt from getting the help they needed.  My particular job was to type correspondence.  So imagine daily typing letter after letter of ways our firm could justify keeping a person who was injured from getting medical care or money for daily living.  I realized early into that position that I would rather be helping people.  So, I went back to school and got my mental health counseling degree.
Now becoming a licensed counselor is a long process.  It starts with the degree, which includes a year-long internship.  It took me a while to find a position.  I ended up at a substance abuse clinic working in their court-ordered program.  I remember feeling a bit nervous about working with addicts.  I didn’t know what to expect and I had actually seen myself being more of a marriage counselor or helping out families.  I guess it’s like most people in a medical-type field – the specialty finds you, you don’t find it.  But I worried about this experience.  See, I had a picture in my mind of what my clients would be like and I am still amazed today at how wrong I was.  I thought they would be rough and aggressive and dirty.  I worried about whether I would have to deal with violence.  None of that proved true.  In fact, to this day the people I met and helped have my total admiration and respect.  After the first day, my first group, I knew this is where I was supposed to be.  I learned that people in recovery have a lot of courage and generosity.  I learned that if you show them you expect good things from them and prove to them that you support them, they can change their whole lives around.  But what I also learned early on was I needed better skills.  I learned addiction is not its own disease, but is often a symptom of a traumatic past.
After my internship and graduation, I got to work with an amazing counselor who taught me about EMDR.  For the next two years, I worked to learn how to do this amazing style of therapy.  EMDR helps people get past negative experiences that are preventing them from functioning in a healthy way in the present.  It’s the piece that I feel is often missing in traditional substance abuse treatment.  I have used this therapy to help people in recovery, people who are transitioning out of prison, people who have struggled with low-self esteem for years and years, people who were sexually and physically abused.  Later, I trained in a variation of EMDR that can help reduce or eliminate cravings for addictive substances and behaviors.
My favorite thing about being a counselor and coach is watching people change.  Sometimes the change is small and hardly noticeable by others, but I always see it.  I also believe this journey has helped me grow as a person.  I am more grateful for my family, which has always provided me with support and unconditional love.  I am less judgmental, as I know the stories behind some of the strange and destructive behaviors I have seen in my clients.  I am more at peace with myself, as I have learned that we’re all just trying to survive our lives the best way we can.  Anyway,  Welcome to Forward Recovery and I hope to see you soon!

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