It is difficult for me to pick one gender or age group that I feel most comfortable working with in the Therapist role. For much of my career I have worked with at-risk youth. I developed a curriculum to increase literacy and improve communication for 7-9 year old girls that came out of my work as a camp counselor for Girls Inc. in Santa Fe and contributed to my Bachelor's Degree in Counseling Psychology from Wells College in Aurora, NY ('05). When I attended Wells College it was single sex, all female. This was an important choice for me as I feel humans behave differently in gender-exclusive environments. I was focused on my education and did not want to be distracted by the competitive dynamic inevitable in co-ed environments.
When I worked as a Resident Assistant at the youth shelter in Santa Fe. My own tumultuous adolescence gives me an intimate understanding of teen angst. I feel particularly effective at quickly establishing trust and fostering positive change in the lives of the adolescents I work with.
Caring for my grandfather in the last part of his life, I completed my Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology at Southwestern College ('08). Southwestern College specializes in Transformational Psychology, integrating spiritual awareness with a holistic approach to mind/body health. I have found the training I received at Southwestern to be extremely relevant to the Clients I serve at Eldorado Behavioral Health. I think most people are looking for a sense of wholeness and integration, whether they know it or not.
As a Multi-Systemic Therapist for Teambuilders Counseling Services (2010-2013) I had my first opportunity to work with entire families and their communities. The intensive (multiple hours per week), home-based yet wide-reaching (extending out, increasing community involvement therefore increasing resources) model of therapy was invaluable to my education as a Therapist. Through this work I learned how each part of a system effects every other. Change ripples through the individual, the family and changes the community at large. This was extremely informative, experiential and rewarding work.
In 2013, my work with at-risk youth merged with my love of horses when I began co-facilitating Equine Assisted Therapy at Ranch Dubois in Corrales, NM. At Ranch Dubois I helped clients to identify feelings through body awareness, taught emotional regulation, and helped clients identify and explore personal boundaries. The horses are equal partners in the “therapy team” including a horse specialist, and a therapist. In Equine-Assisted Therapy, The horses’ body language, behavior, and expressions mirror what the client is feeling. Equine assisted work is great for those clients who have trouble using their voices, have histories of traumatic stress, or behavioral issues including verbal and physical aggression.
These diverse experiences have taught me the complexity of human nature and relations. On a personal level essentially, connecting with others through empathy and shared suffering has brought me much healing and insight. Maintaining healthy boundaries and caring for myself have been, and are currently, predominant themes. A renewed and rewarding relationship with my mother, my work in counseling youth, adults (in all stages of life), and whole families has given me a valuable, unique perspective into the human experience that I enjoy sharing with my Clients.
Meira Petersen is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LPCC). Meira received her Master's degree in Counseling Psychology from Southwestern College in Santa Fe, NM.