interviewing a mental health professional

by Caph D., 16

“Old Man in Sorrow” Vincent Van Gogh

I’ve known my therapist, whose name will not be revealed, for almost three years now, yet there is so much I hadn’t known about her until recently interviewing her. “AB,” as I will call her, got her masters degree from Kean University in 2011 to follow her dreams of becoming a licensed clinical social worker. She has helped me through some of my worst days of high school (which were most days) so when thinking of possible candidates to interview, AB was one of the first people I thought of.

Like most mental health professionals, AB entered this profession having experienced her own struggles with mental health, wanting to help others. When she was in high school, AB refused to talk to anyone out of fear of getting in trouble. This is what made her want to encourage others to open up about their issues. But getting through grad school was one of the hardest things she has done in her life.

Screenshot 2019-09-18 at 2.21.40 PM
Jeffrey Decoster

While she wanted to help others with their emotions, grad school forced AB to deal with her own emotions, which she did not want to do. AB needed to help herself before she could help others. She had considered dropping out, but her boyfriend (now husband) encouraged her to push through. AB is glad that she took his word, as she loves her job. She loves to see clients come in during bad times in their life and leave in a happier, healthier place. When asked her favorite thing about her job, she claimed she loved helping people “organize their thoughts” and learning how their minds worked.

Although AB is one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met, she admits her job has put her in difficult situations. While she claims that the most challenging clients can also be the most rewarding, AB recalled an adult male client in 2012 who had been in and out of psychiatric hospitals. He was a talented artist and they would have therapy sessions in his apartment. AB enjoyed getting to know him and eventually formed a bond with this client, but he would become dangerous when off his medication and she had often feared for her own safety. This client, though, gave her experience and insight to use for future situations.

One thing AB wishes more people knew about mental health is that “you can’t always look on the bright side. It isn’t as easy as ‘just don’t be sad’… It’s a real thing.” She hopes that the world can eventually learn the same lessons which she took from her job, as they have shaped her into the person she is today. Having a better understanding of mental health can also give one a better understanding of people in general.

Howell, New Jersey