An Open Letter to the Women Who Helped Shape My Career

How can the women around us help us dream, grow, and serve?

WOMEN WHO INSPIRE

(In honor of Women’s History Month, we invited our contributors to write about the women who inspire them.—Ed.)

Still fresh in my career, the world is evolving like a moving freight train that is so difficult to keep up with as a human, much less an emerging therapist. The process of finding your voice as a therapist is certainly a process. In graduate school, most of us are offered countless theologies, approaches, and specialties to consider as a part of our approach to the therapeutic relationship.

Personally, this was an exciting and overwhelming venture into the ever-changing field of mental health treatment. Graduate school also consists of internships where you are thrust into different systems and placements to try out different populations that further author your methodology and therapeutic philosophy. We are finding our place in this world and developing our identity as therapists. Postschool, many emerging therapists are limited to certain positions due to the never-ending credentialing processes where you work as an “intern” beyond your graduate school years and training.

Moving into the workforce is where you get to try out your wings and start to learn what setting you prefer and what job sites do not work with your style. Through this process, clinicians continue to forge their therapeutic identity. For me personally, my training began in the world of drama therapy and New York University, where I got the opportunity to create therapeutic theater and really feel drawn to the somatic experience of healing. I have worked in inpatient and outpatient settings, and I even started my PhD in mind/body medicine.

Throughout my journey to discover my own clinical voice, there have been a few voices that have significantly impacted my clinical exploration and discovery. I want to acknowledge the female voices and leaders who have encouraged, supported, and walked with me through self-discovery to find my life’s purpose.

Starting with my former colleague-turned-manager, there is a licensed professional counselor who was always a sounding board to my curiosities and exhibited such enthusiasm for my passions. She is going to be a bridesmaid in my wedding in a few months. Her spirit never exhibited anything other than unconditional positive regard and encouragement, sprinkled in with hard truths regarding life and decision-making.

My supervisor always held me accountable for asserting clear boundaries for myself as a woman in a male-dominant organization. She reminded me to check in with my level of comfort around working with certain clients and encouraged me to follow my intuition.

My current clinical director embodies a symbol of my future aspirations. She is around 5 years further into her career, and her role in the clinical workforce is clear and concise. She embodies a warmness that feels welcoming, and she stands firm in her position of leadership.

As I observe the women around me who have played a part in shaping my professional identity, I am humbled to reflect on the kindness that has been offered to me. Without these women, I cannot imagine where my journey would fall, and for that I am grateful, inspired, and hopeful for women clinicians across the globe.

My story is just an example of how female connection can create space to dream, grow, and serve those around us with a gentle heart.

Ms Boyd is a licensed professional counselor at Mindpath Health, a registered drama therapist, a registered yoga teacher, and a PhD candidate in Mind Body Medicine.

Is there a woman who inspires you? Write to us at PTeditor@mmhgroup.com for a chance to contribute to our Women Who Inspire series.