A Day in the Life of a Mental Health Counselor
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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be working in a mental health environment? Or, are you considering the path of a psychologist, counselor, or therapist?

This November, our team at MindFi is pleased to present Stacey Henderson as our Featured Counselor of the Month! Stacey Henderson is a well-being psychologist and researcher. Her scope of work includes studies in developing psychosocial interventions for patients with chronic illness, as well as conducting training workshops for working executives, particularly in the topic of stress and burnout. Stacey also conducts counseling and therapy sessions for individuals who are experiencing stress and anxiety, along with couples who want to improve their relationships.

We’re intrigued by the extent of her services and expertise in the field of mental health and thought that you might be just as curious to know what it’s like to be a mental health counselor. We’ve spent some time with Stacey to get to know more about her and her journey!

What does a typical day look like for you?

I usually start my day with morning stretches and meditation. This helps to give me clarity to plan my day. I use my mornings to reply to messages and then jump straight into work, be it meetings or seeing clients. I also feel learning is a constant process so I am constantly finding ways to learn more about the work I do to better serve my clients, and myself as well! I end my day by doing things that will help me wind down from the meetings and client interactions. Sometimes, I would play the play-station with my husband, or spend quality time with Nala, my little Siberian cat. Cat therapy is always relaxing!

What excites you in your field of work?

I draw strength from seeing people feeling more motivated and being able to discover things that will help them improve areas in their life (which they initially thought would be impossible). That said, whenever I see my clients transform from a person who has given up to now showing hope and promise, it brings me joy and a sense of fulfillment in my work.

What is your biggest challenge as a counselor?

As a counselor, I’m afraid that I may fail my client, or not have the right answers. But the truth is, I don’t always need to have the right answers. I am human too, and it’s okay to say, “gosh, I really don’t know!”. It does not mean I will leave them hanging (haha) but perhaps that’s a journey we can discover together in our therapeutic relationship. Sometimes, I find that my clients just need someone to journey with so that they do not feel alone.

What is your process for preparing for a counseling session?

I would review any ‘homework’ I have given my clients in the previous session so that we can discuss it. Nonetheless, I mostly begin my sessions with a clear and open mind to see what they bring to the table that day. I personally think that this is a very important aspect for anyone who wants to conduct counseling sessions.

What has been your greatest accomplishment with counseling?

Watching my clients step out of their comfort zone and begin to challenge me instead!
That implies that they have started thinking about the inner issues that were affecting their moods and behaviors. I love it whenever they bring in strategies they have tried over the week and noticed how it has affected the way they approach their relationships and conversations.

How do you separate work and personal time to maintain your mental health and overall well-being?

This is where my ability to compartmentalize helps me. I rarely multi-task. When I am enjoying myself, I give it my full attention. The same goes for work and conversations with my clients and giving them my full attention. When I can recharge well, I can give them 100% of my attention.

What do you find is most challenging working in the mental health environment?

Breaking barriers. There are so many fresh, great ideas and innovative ways to go about providing mental health resources for everyone. It is the barriers that we have to work through constantly and not get demotivated along the way. This includes personal barriers and fears that you have to overcome. I find that seeking support from your team and building good relations help to soften these barriers.

What advice would you give to people who want to pursue a career in mental health?

I feel that when you pursue any career, you need to have the passion and interest for it. Also, be curious and open to where your path takes you. Many opportunities will arise and a career in mental health is so vast! It takes dedication and passion, and it is really important to practice self-care at the end of the day to ensure that you are well nourished to then nourish others! J

We’ve also asked Stacey a couple of personal questions to gather more ideas and inspiration;

Do you have a personal “breakthrough moment”?

My personal breakthrough moment was when I quit my previous job and challenged myself to learn, enhance my professional skills, and to not be afraid of where life takes me. That moment of courage and the experiences that I have gained from it since have changed me and even led me to where I am today.

What is a fun fact (or hidden talent) about you?

I always find this to be a tough question (haha), like I am trying to find something impressive. But I think what surprised me the most, was my ability to build a house of cards. I think it takes determination, patience, and careful precision, and I hope that applies to everything else I do!

What is your favorite pastime?

I love spending quality time with my family (including Nala the cat). We don’t need to be doing anything in particular; it could be a meal, an active day out or doing our own things but in the same space. I love the feeling of support and presence I get when we spend time together. I’m quite a gamer nerd too, so my husband and I enjoy gaming afternoons to destress as well.

Who is your inspiration and why?

My husband. I have never seen such determination and the ability for critical thinking when he approaches work. He is also kind, generous, and loyal to his close friends and family, and I admire all his qualities and aspire to share his values. He motivates me to challenge myself, and never say that I can’t do something without trying first.

Stacey specializes in stress and anxiety, as well as navigating relationships with others and self. To help her clients cope, Stacey usually introduces mindfulness strategies. She also enjoys challenging her clients with critical thinking questions to help them reflect inwards when they are feeling stuck and need guidance to move forward.

If you’d like to connect with Stacey, scan the QR code below or click on https://mindfi.page.link/hGPP (for mobile viewers).

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