What made you decide to become a counselor?
There were actually a lot of little things over time that made me want to be a counselor, not just one thing. I've always been a good listener and good at understanding people's thoughts and feelings. I've always been fundamentally curious about other people's experience of the world and the nature of human consciousness. For a long time this was a very intellectual pursuit for me, studying psychology, biology, dance, and comparative religion. I tried my best to stay in school forever! When I realized that I actually wasn't well-suited to be an academic, I was a little bit lost (ok, a LOT lost). I started volunteering and working for different social services agencies, and realized how much I enjoyed working directly with people. And I started noticing that I was good at it! It was and is so rewarding to sit with people in the midst of intense emotions, offering gentle guidance and support, and see change and renewed hope right in front of my eyes.
Looking back now, I can see that my intellectual pursuits were a little bit of a defense mechanism against looking at my own emotions and processing difficult things I had experienced. Through meditation, dance, and counseling I was able to add in emotional wisdom and somatic understanding to my intellectual pursuits. First by my own experience and then through the experiences of my clients, I have been amazed by the transformations that are possible in the presence of non-judgmental awareness. It's kind-of magic. So, it's been a long and winding road to become a mindful counselor, but now that I'm here, I can't imagine doing anything else!
If you could teach the world one skill or technique to improve their lives, what would it be?
The main thing I wish I could teach everyone is “Don't believe every thing that you think!” There are a lot of different techniques that help with this, but my favorite one is probably visualizing thoughts as leaves falling from a tree onto a river and then drifting downstream, out of your awareness. Watching thoughts come into your consciousness and flow out of your consciousness, without holding onto anything. Not resisting anything or reacting to any thought. I like this meditation because it not only brings a mindful awareness to what you are thinking about, but it also gives you a sense of your observing self, sitting on the bank, watching the flow. I also find it to be very peaceful most of the time.
What is the most common problem your clients bring to you?
Most of my clients have some symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. One of the commonalities among them is having a very strong inner voice that is judgmental and critical of themselves. I think most of us are way more critical of ourselves than of others, and we don't offer ourselves the same empathy and compassion that we offer others. I believe this critical voice is actually trying to protect a part of us that is more sensitive and vulnerable, but the way it is trying to do so is actually mean, sometimes verging on abusive, which ends up making things worse. What is needed is a more self-compassionate voice that acknowledges how we are actually feeling and offers nurturing and gentle support. Can we treat ourselves with the same tenderness we would treat a child who is scared and sad?
Have you personally been in counseling and if so, what did you learn about yourself?
I was in counseling in my mid-twenties and am in counseling now and I love it! It has meant different things to me at different times and I have learned a lot of things about myself. I think what has been most useful for me lately is having a place where I can be honest about what I am thinking and feeling, mostly just being honest with myself. It helps to have an outside perspective when I am caught up in my own thoughts, feelings, and interpretation of events. My therapist is great at helping me recognize when I am stuck in patterns that I learned in childhood that no longer serve me.
If you could recommend one book to all your clients, what would it be?
Harry Potter! Just kidding (or am I?)
Depending on their worldview I would recommend either Living Like You Mean It by Ronald Frederik or A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Living Like You Mean It has more of a psychological perspective while A New Earth has more of a spiritual perspective. The focus of Living Like You Mean It is what happens when we are afraid of our feelings and try to avoid feeling them. The author walks you through how to feel your emotions, tame your fear, and share your emotions with others when you need. A New Earth is about the freedom and joy we can experience when we live in the present moment. It discusses the many ways we intentionally and unintentionally cut ourselves off from our deepest Being by getting lost in our thoughts, believing in a limited and disconnected ego, and reacting automatically from unprocessed emotional pain.
What inspires you to help others?
I strongly believe that change is always possible, no matter what the circumstance. I also believe that everyone has within them a still, small voice that seeks healing, safety, and growth. More than anything, my job as a therapist is to connect you to that voice. We have all the wisdom we need within ourselves, it's sometimes we need help finding it.
Who is your ideal client?
My ideal clients are young adults who are creative, cerebral, or introverted and struggling with their emotions and finding their place in the world.
How do you personally practice self-care?
Probably my biggest form of self-care is watching reality shows about art and the creative process: Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance, RuPaul's Drag Race, Skin Wars, etc. Watching these shows helps me relax and turn off my brain, but they are also very inspiring to me. I'm not the best sleeper, so making sure I get enough regular, quality sleep is very important. I enjoy listening to music, meditating, dancing and painting. Also, I could watch animal videos on the internet for hours, and have done so.
To schedule an appointment with Wendy online click the Schedule Now button below or call 512-578-8070 and ask for Wendy. Or you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Our Blog
Here you will find articles contributed by members of our team. We hope to provide helpful information here to inspire mindful living and general wellness. The information provided here is not a substitue for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need to speak to a professional regarding your mental health, please make an appointment.