|Welcome to another edition of the Therapists Corner! I feel like there are so many talented helping professionals in the world, including counsellors, psychologists, coaches or even naturopath healers, the talented and caring people who have made their career about helping others deserve to be in the spotlight from time to time. It's an honour to be able to showcase some of these caring souls on my blog once a month. I hope you are enjoying reading about the inspiration that has helped these individuals carve their path towards helping others.
experienced traumatic events in her private practice located in Matthews, North Carolina. I’m so happy that Sarah could join us this week.
Let’s get started with the Q&A!
Q1. What first drew you to enter the counselling profession?
When I was in First Grade, I wrote a paper based off of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr “I have a Dream” Speech...it was so beautiful and fluid in the writing of my first grade self...until the final and last sentence “I have a dream of teaching all of the poor children how to spell…” which had absolutely nothing to do with the speech I had just written. It was the first sign I had shown that I was heading down that path...Over the years, I found myself naturally drawn toward those who were homeless, struggling, oppressed. Either I was drawn toward them, or they were drawn toward me (as in randomly walking up to me wherever I was and telling me their life story while I was buying a gallon of milk).
I also wanted to be an archaeologist! I learned, while working in the hospital, the clients did not like driving into Charlotte (which neighbors Matthews) and so I opened my practice in Matthews to help assist in meeting a need. I must tell you though, I still never knew WHY I wanted to be a social worker. I was the student in graduate school, in every class, when completing the initial ice breaker at the beginning of the class each semester who continue to state “I don’t know” when asked why I wanted to be a social worker. For 3 years, every time I was asked, all I could respond with was “I don’t know.” What I DO know is this is definitely my calling, whether I like it or not! I am never leaving this profession. You can’t make me leave! For some reason I was brought into this profession, so I have decided to stop fighting it and just embrace the work I do with others and how I absolutely and genuinely love what I do!
Q2. What kind of clientele do you see in your practice?
Many of my clients are therapists who are practicing in the field. Almost every client I work with has experienced trauma to some extent and so I usually treat utilizing EMDR; however it depends on the individual and their goals. My clients are focused and goal oriented. They are all incredibly hard working. With every client I work with, I am genuinely honored to be their therapist. I am honored to be trusted by others. It means so much to me.
Radio Edit with Brave Step
Listen to Sarah as she is interviewed about her work with Brave Step, an organization that supports individuals who have been impacted by sexual abuse.
Q3. How would you describe the most rewarding aspect of your job as a therapist?
Watching people literally “get it”. You know the moment a client “gets it” and it is SO exciting to watch them change! When I am utilizing EMDR with a client, I am required to be fully present every step of the way. It is the time spent, holding their pain, and the fact they trust me to hold their pain. I view it as being such a honor to work as hard as those working with me.
"My children inspire me to keep reaching for higher goals and meeting those goals."
Q4. Who has inspired you the most in your practice?
Great question! This has changed between numerous people over the years. At this current time, my late husband and my 6 year old twins are my current inspiration when it comes to my practice and treatment of clients. Watching my husband die, the conversations we had at the end of his life, conversations most people never get to have, and his never-ending optimism continues to inspire me to this day and I have taken what I learned, experienced, etc into my sessions which allows him to help others, even though he is deceased.
My husband was a childhood cancer survivor. He never gave up hope, even when he was told there was absolutely nothing that could be done; he still never gave up hope. I fell in love with his desire to enjoy every.single.day and to not take life so seriously. These are all things he learned from surviving cancer the first time. He passed away at the age of 37 from a progressive and rare form of stage 4 stomach cancer. My children inspire me to keep reaching for higher goals and meeting those goals. My children watch every move I make and I am influencing their lives every day with everything I do, say, do not do, etc. My children are very honest and upfront and they inspire me and remind me to continue to be authentic and it is okay to be myself when doing treatment.
Q5. Is there anything you wish clients knew before entering your therapy room for the first time?
Therapists are people too! It is normal to feel awkward! I am a stranger and I expect you to tell me personal details about yourself. It’s awkward all around! Please know you don’t have to use big words or try to somehow impress me. I know you aren’t coming to see me because you are bored and have nothing else better to do! Get ready to work! If you want to work with me be prepared to work because I am not working harder than you. I also want them to know the importance of hanging in there with me for at least 4-5 sessions before deciding therapy is not working for them or if they need another therapist. If I am not able to assist the client in my office, I want to help them get to a therapist who can help! I do not take it personally, at all!
"I want others to know therapists are REAL people and we have our own struggles and triumphs."
Q6. Where do you see yourself in the next 1, 3 and 5 years in terms of your professional career?
Great question! Wow! You are making me think over here! :) Sometimes it can be difficult to answer these questions, especially since watching first hand how short life really is due to the death of my husband. I can tell you a year ago I did not think I would be where I am now! In a year, I expect to be facilitating groups in my practice. I LOVE group work! I literally just signed a lease for a bigger office and I am moving in by Feb 1st! I’m so excited! I also expect to be a fully certified EMDR therapist.
I also expect, in the next year, to be hopefully completing a book I have begun writing about my personal life. It is more of a personal goal but will affect me professionally, which I am fully aware of. I want others to know therapists are REAL people and we have our own struggles and triumphs. I always tell people, “normal” is simply a setting on a dryer! Please, go look at your dryer because I guarantee it is there. Over the next 3 years...don’t laugh, but I am considering working on a PhD! We will see about that goal though :) That goal would likely carry over into the next 5 years as well.
Thank you so much, Sarah, for sharing about yourself, the inspiration you found to become a counselling professional, and the passion that you bring to your career. You are truly an inspiration!
Enjoyed this months Therapists Corner? Want to read more? Check out last months edition, where Jonas shares his inspiration of becoming a counsellor and coach:
Therapists Corner: Q&A with Jonas Ogonowski @ Being & Becoming Integral Counselling
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