Get to know Jennifer, a Trauma & EMDR Therapist at Therapy Alberta, in this interview blog.
Who are you?
Hello, I am Jenn. I am a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, teacher, advocate and therapist. I am born and raised in Calgary, Alberta; however, I lived on beautiful Vancouver Island for a couple of years and that part of my life has really influenced me and my lifestyle. My mother is French Canadian (Quebec) and my father grew up in Saskatchewan, so there is a literal piece of my heart from Coast to Coast.
There are parts of me that are adventurous and silly and parts of me that are quiet and serious. I love a good laugh, and more than anything I love quality time with my family and friends.
What led you to become a therapist/counsellor?
I have always gravitated to jobs and careers where helping was at the heart of what I do. I started my career in Child and Youth Care Counselling and loved the one to one support and interaction with youth. Then I worked as a Protection Worker with Child and Family Services and was inspired by the strength and resilience of many of the families that I worked with. This was a driving force in my desire to pursue a career as a therapist as I wanted to be able to support the healing journey of children, youth and their families.
Do you ever get overwhelmed by the stuff people tell you?
Sometimes, I do. But most often I feel more than just overwhelm. I am human and every story I hear is incredibly tender and vulnerable. I am practiced at managing and responding to my feelings, you might notice me take a breath or maybe a sip of my tea to soothe myself and ensure that I am present and attuned. I work with individuals who have had traumatic experiences, traumatic or complex bereavement, compassion fatigue or many other adversities and witnessing their strength, resilience and persistence is often what I feel the most.
How do you handle being a therapist?
By practicing what I recommend to my clients. Self-care, connection and play!!
Self-care is my daily routine of exercise, reading and mindfulness. I know myself well enough to know that if I am not moving my body and exercising my mind I am not at my best. I also know myself well enough to know that I need people. I am not an extrovert, but I do need to be in spaces where I hear laughter and movement. Connection is critical to wellbeing and after the Covid-19 lock down I have become acutely aware of how much I need connection and belonging with others. Most importantly I need Play. This might be taking my dog for a walk, going for a hike, cooking a meal with my kids, board games with the family, bowling, or colouring. But Play is something I prescribe to myself at least a couple of times per week in order for me to be my most attuned, present and compassionate self.
What makes your job fulfilling?
Everything. I sincerely feel privileged to be trusted and to have the honour of working as a therapist. It is incredibly brave to seek out professional help, and I am so grateful to be able to work with individuals who are prioritizing their wellness, relationships and healing. Being able to watch people grow, heal and achieve their goals is incredibly fulfilling.
What would you tell someone who’s nervous to start therapy?
If it is your first time to counselling then I would say “Welcome and thank you for being here.”
Please know that I am here to support you and guide you, but you are always in control of your journey.
What are your hobbies?
During the pandemic I took up plants. I am really enjoying my plants and caring for them. I had no idea how much time it took to nurture them and care for them and I am finding it a really enjoyable process.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I lived my entire life in Calgary (well all but 2.5 years) and only in 2022 did I try floating the Bow River for the first time. Floating on the river is one of my favourite things to do and I can’t believe I waited so long to try it! Otherwise, I love to be outside: hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, paddle boarding! However, all these sports are summer sports so in the winter I spend more time at the gym, catching up on reading, trying new winter sports like cross country skiing or pond skating (I am literally the worst at winter sports, but I try and enjoy!). I also read and have a lifelong goal to learn how to play the piano.
What are you reading right now?
I’m that person that has a few books on the go. I recently joined a book club to encourage more pleasure reading and fiction. Otherwise I am reading books that support and inform my work as a therapist. I also love to listen to audio books. So, at any given moment I can have three to four books going at a time. My most recent books that I have read and recommend are:
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John
From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle
Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Hunter
Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown
Cats or dogs or other?
Dogs. It would be dogs and cats but my husband is very allergic to cats so my parents raised my cats for me. Currently I have a 9-year-old Shepard/Bernese mountain dog cross that we adopted from a rescue agency. He came to us with medical conditions and despite all his medical concerns he shows up every day happy, loving, loyal, tender and playful! A true inspiration and miracle in our home.
What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?
A singer and a pianist. And, no, I cannot do either well but they still bring me joy!
What’s your favorite quote?
I have so many favorite quotes. I am someone who puts quotes in frames and signs cards with inspirational and loving quotes. It is something quite ‘cheesy’ about me and I love it.
Today my favorite quote is “We need to see ourselves as basic miracles.” Virginia Satir.
I wish for all people that they can look at themselves, walk with themselves and know that they are inherently beautiful, irreplaceable and an absolute miracle.
There are no mistakes, you are here and you are a miracle.
Indoors or outdoors?
Outdoors!! Always Outdoors. Every day, I find a way to be outside, even if it is just sitting outside while I read or walking my dog, I love to be outdoors.
What’s your wish for your clients?
I wish for my client to feel safe and peaceful in their bodies; satisfied in their relationships and joyful experiences in their days. I wish for my clients to feel loved and to be loving.
Jennifer Hrstic is a Trauma & EMDR Therapist at Therapy Alberta helping adults & teens in Calgary & Alberta. She specializes in working with adults who are struggling with trauma, fatigue, and chronic illness or pain to work towards healing, wellness and meaningful connected relationships.