Meet the Team: Elizabeth
Updated: Dec 5, 2022
Get to know Elizabeth, provisional psychologist at Therapy Alberta, in this interview blog.
Who are you?
I am a mother, sister, friend, therapist, and career woman. I recently became an empty nester, and am learning to cope with it. I believe learning is a never-ending process. I laugh a lot. I find humor has a way of jogging my mind and helping me to cope with difficult times. I enjoy connecting with people professionally and socially.
What led you to become a therapist?
I am the first born in a family of seven - fourteen if we include blended family. Sometimes I think I was a helper long before I became aware of it. I find joy in working with people, especially marginalized groups. I’ve come to learn mental unwellness has a way of marginalizing people within majority population groups, who were otherwise doing well. Becoming a therapist was part of a career change decision made after migrating to Canada ten years ago. Previously, I worked as a social worker in Kenya, but I could not use that title here without recertification. When I came to this country, I faced new struggles I later came to recognize as immigration trauma. My children also struggled to adjust and fit in. When the time came for me to identify new areas of career growth, it was easy for me to select counselling. I want to help and support other people so it doesn't take them as long as it did me to understand themselves within current contexts, heal, and move on.
What is your life philosophy?
I don't have a specific philosophy as I find myself anchoring based on what's currently going on. If I had to choose, I would say “live life to the fullest”. I like to find purpose in the things I do.
Do you ever get overwhelmed by the stuff people tell you?
Oh yes! And sometimes more often than I am aware of. And guess what? When I am overwhelmed it tends to show up in ways that people around me can see. A couple months ago, I was remodeling my kitchen. I decided to save myself some time from packing and unpacking, and just moved everything to the living room. Well, a friend visited and was not impressed by the mess. I've learned to pay attention to some of the things people tell me about me.
How do you handle being a therapist?
Over time, I've been able to find a comfortable work-life balance. I pay attention to my body. I have relationships with friends, peers and therapist colleagues. I try to practice ongoing self care and when I can, I take a vacation break.
What makes your job fulfilling?
The opportunity to connect with people and hear their unique stories and experiences. It gives me joy to observe and be part of that light bulb moment when my client experiences a mind shift or finds a new area of growth, however small, that could add a little satisfaction to their day to day living.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Sleep is my favorite pastime - I wish I could list it as a hobby! I love to cook. One of my favorite foods to cook is Chapati (Kenyan flat bread). My friends consider cooking chapati a chore. I call it a labor of love and find it therapeutic, plus I get to enjoy the tasty end product or share it with them! I also knit and crochet; I want to start or join a crochet club. I also enjoy traveling with my three children and friends to discover Canada. On special occasions I jump on the opportunity to dress up in traditional cultural costumes.
What are you watching right now?
PVR recordings of Murdock Mysteries. It's a detective series set in the 1800s. I find it intriguing and it has helped me learn a lot about Canadian history. I used to enjoy watching this with one of my kids, but somehow when they got to grade 12, they got too busy or did not fancy my company as much. I have a huge backlog of recordings to catch up on.
What are you reading right now?
The Complete Adult Psychotherapy Treatment Planner. Boring, I know. It's helping me to build vocabulary for my practice!. Believe me when I tell you, English is hard. I've also been spending some time reading blog posts and peoples posts on social media. Surprisingly, I do get some news there, especially about past and present friends.
Cats or dogs or other?
At the moment, I’d say neither. My daughter thinks I'm a cat person. Growing up in the village, we had cats and fierce yet loving guard dogs.
What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?
At that age all I wanted was to go to university. One of my dad’s favorite sayings was “education is the key to success”. Around the same time, I became aware that people in my country got paid a stipend to go to university, and I couldn't wait to be paid to go to school. I do enjoy learning new things!
Indoors or outdoors?
In my current practice I work from home. Indoors keeps me warm in the winter. In the summer I struggle to keep myself cool enough. My home is one of the older ones that were built without AC. On hot summer days I prefer winter to summer. I do enjoy the outdoors quite a lot in the summer as there is plenty to do- backyard gardening, walks in the park, picnics, barbeque, travel. This past summer my family and I visited Vancouver and Victoria, BC. Capilano Suspension Bridge was an experience to behold. We also took the ferry to Victoria and took lots of pictures at the Parliament building.
What’s your wish for your clients?
I wish I had a magic wand to help them make their desired change…so much wishful thinking. I wish my clients could have a deeper awareness and understanding of what is working and not working for them. I have come to learn that when there is so much happening around us we tend to pay less attention to our bodies and the powers within.