Welcome! This is my first attempt at blogging, and I'm a little nervous about it! Since this is post #1, I thought it would be best to share how Redbird Counseling came to be. To tell that story, we need to understand how I became a therapist.
When I started college, I had no idea what career path I was headed towards. As corny as it sounds, I loved Law & Order: SVU for as long as I can remember so I decided to start down the psychology and criminal justice path and see where that took me. Before I knew it, I was starting my fourth year of undergrad and realized I needed a plan. I knew early in my programs that I wouldn’t work in law enforcement and that you can’t do much with only an undergraduate degree in psychology. It became apparent that continuing education was inevitable.
I explored the options of law school or a master's in counseling. As excited as the thought of law school made me, I questioned if I would be able to hack it and was further discouraged by the limited job opportunities I was finding. Call it fate or poor planning, it seemed like the path for me was pursuing psychology. I won’t bore you with the stress and hassle of applying to grad schools, but I eventually found a program and was accepted.
My counseling program was two years long. I found myself questioning my career path from the first class. But I persisted. Class after class, I felt so different from the students I was surrounded by. They all appeared completely engaged in class and confident in their choices. Where I, on the other hand, did not.
Nevertheless, I continued forward.
Tears, doubt, imposter syndrome, and fear became my everyday life. I showed up for my clients, handed in my coursework, and gave feedback to my classmates. And then, I started applying for jobs.
Rejection after rejection came. Not even interviews. When, finally, I landed two interviews. One, a well-established clinic that had a good reputation. The other is a small practice that I found only by digging through a google maps search of “mental health clinics” one afternoon. I had a preference for the clinic with a known reputation.
It wasn’t the one who offered me a position however. Feeling desperate as my graduation date quickly approached, I took the first job offered. And to be honest, I was just excited to be working a “big girl job” and make some *hopefully* “big girl money.” I had a place that I was going to land after graduation, and I would figure the rest out later.
What I didn’t know when I accepted that job was that I would be an independent contractor, aka self-employed. I’d never heard anything about being an “independent contractor” in grad school and as a result, I had a lot to learn from my first job beyond just what being a therapist meant. I stayed with that clinic for a little over two years before realizing that it was no longer the right fit for me. It was almost a year after that when I moved to another clinic.
Again, I continued to learn what it meant to be a therapist and started to feel like I understood what it meant to be “self-employed”. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit there was another learning curve. I had to learn a new way to be a therapist when I wasn’t physically present with clients. At first, I was like many people, in that I was thinking I would just “wait it out” until I could see people in person again (including seeing my own therapist). After the initial shock of the world shutting down, I realized that I still needed to pay my bills, so I needed to at least try being a virtual therapist.
It was a hard adjustment for the first couple of months. Yes, it was hard even for therapists. I eventually saw the benefit and that it was just as effective as in-person therapy when you got the hang of it. And I was able to spend much more time with my dog, Bella (pictured above).
After a few major life changes, including a major loss of my own, and a move to a new town, I realized that I needed a change. A new challenge. New responsibilities. So after three years at the second practice, I moved on and started a new clinic of my own.
Choosing a name for this practice that I had such high hopes for, felt like the most important decision of all. My goal was for my practice to be a safe and comforting place. A place where people come to find hope and peace. When my husband suggested the name “Redbird”, I was shocked by how good of a fit the name was for what I envisioned. How it gave my recent losses some connection to this new adventure and how well it fits with the community we were a part of, where the high school mascot just happened to be a cardinal.
Redbirds (or cardinals) are said to be messengers from people who have passed on. They are meant to bring a sense of peace, hope, or comfort when you see them. That’s exactly how I envisioned my practice would impact people too.
Typically, by the time people reach out for therapy, they have been dealing with symptoms for a long time on their own. Depending on how long they’ve waited to address symptoms or how many things they have tried before walking in my door, it’s not uncommon for people to feel hopeless by the time they reach me. So hope, that’s what my goal for Redbird Counseling became.
Thank you to those of you who took the time to read through my and Redbird Counseling’s origin story. We all have to start somewhere with making an impact on our community and the world as a whole. It’s a privilege to get to serve in this deeply meaningful way. If you want to know anything else about Redbird Counseling, please reach out!
Brooke Halliday, MA, LPCC (she/her)
Owner of Redbird Counseling