It’s been suggested I write a more personal “About Me”. I’ve been staring at that title above for quite a while. I’ve spent so much time pouring over other About Me’s on other blogs, websites, and Facebook pages. I’m not sure why it’s so hard for me to write about me, but it is. I’m sure in part it has to do with my counseling because we are trained and encouraged to focus only on the client and not on ourselves. It’s not about us. It’s about you. Still, it might be helpful if you knew a little about me….
I was born a poor Sicilian girl in Brooklyn….kidding. Well, not really, but I won’t start that far back :-)))
After my husband graduated from graduate school he went to work at the University of New Haven in Connecticut and I was able to take advantage of a program there that allows dependents of employees to go to school for free! I’m all about free and decided the timing was finally right for me to finish my BA degree in Psychology and I did. My goal was always to work with teenagers. I’d had an….ahem… interesting adolescence and didn’t really have anyone to talk to. Since I was 19 I had known that I wanted to be the person teenagers could go to for support and encouragement. I’d always been fascinated by resilience and knew that if just one person cared enough, a life might be enhanced and turned around.
My undergraduate internship was in a residential treatment center for children and adolescents in Connecticut. Initially I worked with the 13 – 16 year old girls in the residential unit, but after graduating was hired in the school working first as a one-to-one with a 9 year old, mentally ill boy then in the classroom for the 16 – 18 year old boys. I loved my work there. It was challenging, but very very rewarding. It was there that I came in contact with social workers and knew that’s what I wanted to be.
Another move, that time back to New York and I was able to go to graduate school at the University of Albany to pursue my Master’s degree in Social Work. Somewhere between the application process and the first day of graduate school, I had a revelation and felt very strongly that I was to pursue an education in end of life and bereavement. It was like a calling, a very strong knowing that that was the direction I was to go. It’s impossible to explain…
At the school, there were some fabulous role models…women working as social workers in oncology, gerontology, and counseling who influenced me more than words can say. I absolutely, without a doubt, completely knew that this was what I was supposed to do.
My first year internship was assigned to me; I had no choice (it was assisting the school social worker in a middle school), but the second year I could choose. I applied to and interviewed with a local hospice. Initially, I was declined. She said she liked me and I would be a good fit, but they simply did not utilize interns. After I had been given another assignment, but before I began, that woman called back and said they were making an exception and would like me to intern after all. That was clear confirmation I was on the right track.
My year interning for that hospice was mind-blowing, mind-expanding, and life-changing in a MAJOR way. I was able to hone my end of life counseling skills, walk with families through the most tender, terrifying, and vulnerable time of their lives, and sit with grieving family members as they tried to figure out “What now?”. The experience made me take a hard look at my own life, my relationships, my way of viewing the world and it changed me. On every level it changed me. In a good way.
Immediately following graduation, I started my own private practice, but then another move and I decided to apply to that areas local hospice. I was hired on the spot as a part-time bereavement counselor and medical social worker (working with patients and their families). I worked there for over 11 years and treasured every moment until my resignation in September 2014.
A while ago, I read a study that concluded that telephone counseling people with depression is MORE effective than face to face counseling. The biggest contributing factor is that the telephone does not require one to get groomed and dressed, drive somewhere, wait in a waiting room, etc. for an appointment. It takes too much energy. That was a light-bulb moment for me. Since grief mirrors depression, is it possible that telephone counseling could be more effective for bereavement counseling? If simply answering the telephone can provide counseling for someone right where they are, all the better.
This study, paired with the reality that much of the bereavement counseling we provided at our hospice is done over the telephone, led me to my current endeavor. I’ve walked alongside hundreds of people through their grief effectively over the telephone. After a good year of research about on line businesses, consultations with a small business advisor, long talks with my family and the belief that this was a good idea and good timing, I launched Translating Grief.
Every day I continue to learn and grow and appreciate all that my clients and families teach me. I’m so much more appreciative of the people in my life…and they know it. I know that none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow and I make sure that every day I take time for gratitude and appreciation for all life has to offer.
Bullets About Me:
* I’m the child of divorce (I was 12 when they split)
* I’ve moved over 25 times
* I’m the happy wife of a wonderful man for over 30 years (m. 1981)
* I have two adults, a son (married, 3 children) and a daughter
* I have three amazing grandchildren who call me Nonni
* I currently live in upstate New York, near Albany
* I’m quirky, curious, talkative, appreciative, happy, and generally optimistic – when I’m not worrying myself silly, but I’m working on that…
* I love to travel, swim, travel, play games, travel, explore new places and cultures and people…have I mentioned I love to travel??
* I try to live a life of mindfulness, simplicity and gratitude.
I’m always open to answering more questions you may have. Leave a comment or email me privately.
Copyright 2014 Lisa B. Wolfe, Translating Grief, LLC