I share knowledge in a way that I would have found helpful when I was struggling. I recognize that I can’t be an expert in every issue, so I rely on my clients to provide their expertise and feedback too. Building a mutual understanding also builds confidence and trust. Irvin Yalom wrote, “It’s the relationship that heals,” and I keep that in mind in my work.
1. What is involved in your role?
Mental Health Clinicians are Registered Psychotherapists or Social Workers with training in counselling/psychotherapy. We work with people who have various mental health issues and/or addictions, plus other complex issues. We do our work 1:1 and in groups. We also collaborate and consult with other professionals, inside and outside CMHAWW.
2. Why did you become involved in the mental health field?
I’m a natural helper. My dad was a teacher and my mom was a nurse, and I think that counselling is a good blend of those callings. What drew me to mental health specifically is my own lived experience of chronic illness, episodes of depression, chronic anxiety, and my experiences in recovery from those issues.
3. What brought you to CMHA?
It all started when a friend wanted to volunteer to run a group at Self Help. I went along, discovered the world of peer support, and ended up volunteering! As a therapist-in-training, I had been feeling like a fraud, having my own mental health issues. As a volunteer at Self Help I learned that, with good support and training, having lived experience can be a great strength, both personally and professionally. When I finished school, I got a job at Self Help in the Skills for Safer Living program, and I haven’t looked back.
4. Have you always worked in mental health?
I started working in mental health at around age 30. Before that, I did many different kinds of work. I have worked as a restaurant server, intake for pharmaceutical research, farm worker, tutor, factory worker, psychology experiment research assistant, and deafblind intervenor. I even worked as a performer, presenting school bus safety shows for elementary and middle school students.
5. How do you support people at CMHA in your role?
My approach is partly in use of self, in being as solid, trustworthy, and authentically me as I can be. I think the greatest compliment I ever got at work was being called “congruent”. Of course, it’s also very important to have knowledge and expertise, and I share that knowledge in a way that I would have found helpful when I was struggling. I recognize that I can’t be an expert in every issue, so I rely on my clients to provide their expertise and feedback too. Building a mutual understanding also builds confidence and trust. Irvin Yalom wrote, “It’s the relationship that heals,” and I keep that in mind in my work (Yalom, Love’s Executioner, p. 112).
6. What are you proud of during your time at CMHA?
I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, and impressed with the people who surround me. I’m continually impressed with the resilience and creativity of the people who take a few hours of counselling and turn it into a new life for themselves. I’m proud that I have chosen to face my challenges, stay curious, and thicken my skin. I am privileged, too, to have the opportunity to draw from the expertise, generosity, and strength of my supervisors, colleagues, and clients, for which I’m deeply grateful.
If you are in crisis or wish to discuss whether CMHA has the right service for you, call Here 24/7: 1-844-437-3247 (HERE 247).
Follow the ‘Faces of CMHA’ series for a glimpse into the lives of the people who spend each day at the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington working to inspire and support people to achieve the quality of life they desire. Join our team, click here to view current employment opportunities at CMHA WW.