One theme I keep being pulled back to is authenticity. To be genuine and true to one’s self and identity, to be fully authentic, is an act of bravery and courage. It is saying to the world, I accept me, all parts of me, for who I am.
As I was writing this post, I felt called to share my experience with authenticity. I thought about my journey into the mental health field and why I became a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.
Many of you may be able to relate to a career change. I commonly see a shift in careers in the work I do with clients. They talk about feeling called or finding a sense of purpose. It’s often the catalyst for change and I connect deeply with that.
My story is similar. I was working as an advertising sales executive in NYC and I realized my favorite part of this job was meeting with clients, listening to the challenges they faced, and collaborating with them to develop solutions. I loved the feeling of helping and being a part of that process. I felt called to do that work.
At the same time, I became very interested in travel and wanted to learn about different cultures. I took a six month sabbatical with my now husband, and we traveled to 17 countries exploring different cultures and places. The experiences we had opened my eyes to how diverse and beautiful this world was. It also opened my eyes to the immense suffering of people and how differently mental health was viewed and treated across the globe. I wanted to help. I didn’t know how or what I was going to do. But I had found my purpose.
It was at this moment that I had to make a choice between returning to my life as I had known it, or to heed the call and choose the unknown. I forged on and applied to graduate schools to pursue a career in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
Fast forward 12 years, I am Licensed in Florida as a Mental Health Counselor and have an online private practice specializing in relational and attachment trauma, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. I am also a qualified supervisor for registered mental health counselor interns seeking licensure in Florida. As much as I love counseling, I equally love working with new clinicians and supporting their development in the counseling field. I wanted to work more formally in this space and completed my Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision in 2009. This provided me with the opportunity to adjunct teach and supervise students in clinical mental health graduate programs.
The initial adjustment of leaving a career to pursue a completely different field was scary and there was a lot of uncertainty. I am not minimizing that. If you have ever made a big change in your life, you can relate to that fear. You had tough moments and you questioned yourself. I definitely did. While I had fear and uncertainty, I was able to reconnect with an inner voice and I trusted it. “Keep going,” it said.
I believe that inner voice and wisdom is inherent in all of us. Sometimes clients lose contact with the self. It’s in this sacred space, where I help people reconnect and begin to trust that voice, to trust themselves.
Connection is important now, more than ever. In the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been so much isolation physically, emotionally, and perhaps existentially. Collectively, we have experienced an incredible amount of loss and grief. An overall sense of disconnection. As humans, we yearn to be seen and heard, to belong, and to be fully accepted. The first step is finding our way back and reconnecting with the self, the whole self, to live authentically.
As a professional, I have the great privilege of holding space for clients as they embark on their journey of self-discovery. Witnessing their growth, strength, resilience, and hope affirms I am living my purpose, this is where I need to be.
When I am not working, I love spending time with my family and friends. I love to travel and immerse myself in different cultures. I enjoy a strong cup of coffee, reading, running, working out, and soaking up the warm Florida sun.
What parts of self do you most easily connect with?