When I stated Abegglen Counseling over 3 years ago, I knew that I wanted to change the way people thought of, and accessed, mental health care. I remember seeing my first therapist when I was 20. I was horrified. Not only because I had no idea what to expect but because I interpreted my need for help as being "weak" or "broken." Obviously thats not the case. And though its a bit of a cliche, it is true, that asking for help requires a great deal of courage. I needed help, and thank goodness I found the courage to ask for it.
My counselor was able to show me that what I was completely internalizing (believing that some one else's issues were because of me) and that I could let go, detach, remove myself from all of it without guilt or an explanation. And so I did (or at least started to). I only saw him for a short time as is often the case with your first experience at counseling but in that short time I completely reframed the way I saw myself in relation to others and was able to move forward in my life with healthier coping skills and clarity. I found more courage, I found my spirit, and I found hope. And I knew I wanted to help others find the same.
Simultaneously in my life I was working with children with Autism as well as completing a degree in Special Education and a Masters in Educational Psychology. There is seriously nothing more fun then working with kiddo's who have special needs. They are the sweetest, most open and caring kiddos you will ever meet. But they too, like everyone, struggle with their own mental health concerns. As do their parents, siblings, caregivers, teachers... This population of kiddos, though amazing, can bring up immense feelings of guilt, frustration, grief, fear, sadness, and anger in their loved one's - regardless of best intentions.
Ten years ago there was no research in this area. All the research ever focused on were intervention to promote change in family systems or change in the individual child in order to promote more adaptive beavhiors. My thesis for my Master in Counseling Psychology focused on the impact having a brother/sister has on their siblings - and research was scarce.
Then it all fell into place....and two of my passions combined.
It was then I realized the focus of my therapeutic practice would be supporting children and adults with special needs who are struggling with mental illness - offering psychotherapy to a population who often received little to no mental health counseling. I am able to mix my knowledge of developmental delays, special education, behavior modification with my skills in psychotherapy to treat clients who deal with co-morbid concerns.
Of course I work with a wide array of neurotypical clients as well. This year I was lucky enough to be trained in Dialectical Behavrioal Therapy - an approach to emotional regulation that is showing amazing results helping those with maladaptive behaviors (think, cutting or suicidal ideations) decrease those behaviors and increase healthy skills like mindfulness as well as increase the use of appropriate interpersonal skills (think, asking someone for what you need).
I feel extremely fortunate to not only do what I love, but that I get to work with some amazing clients whose strength and determination never cease to amaze me.
Next week, you'll be introduced to the newest counselor at Abegglen Counseling, Licensed Professional Counselor, National Board Certified Counselor and Substance Abuse Counselor, Courtney Quast. We are so excited to have Courtney join the team and are so excited to now be able to help those suffering from addiction.
SKILL: BELLY BREATHING - with one hand on your belly, and one on your chest, inhale for 4 slow seconds, hold for two, and exhale for 4, making sure that the hand on your belly moves up and down while the hand on your chest stays still.
"Don't let yesterday take up too much of today" - Will Rogers (yeah, thats right, Will Rogers)
[Yes, I am a licensed counselor, but I am not YOUR licensed counselor and this article does not create a client-counselor relationship. I am licensed to practice as a counselor in the state of WI and base my information on my general counseling education and general knowledge. This article is general counseling information and is not to be considered legal or medical advice. Please consult with your mental health professional before you rely on this information]