Page 12 - CT August 2016
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Counselor Career Stories – Interview by Danielle Irving
A counselor’s heart: Listening with curiosity
Amy Rosechandler is a licensed mental health counselor and certified group psychotherapist
who works with teenagers and adults at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT’s) Counseling and Psychological Services and in her own private practice, Clarity Mental Health Counseling.
She graduated from the University of Rochester in New York with a master’s in community mental health
counseling. She has also
held positions at Strong Hospital and Unity Hospital in Rochester. Her primary interests include narrative therapy, social justice, feminist theory and solution- focused work.
Danielle Irving: What influenced you to become a professional counselor?
Amy Rosechandler: I
grew up in a tough situation.
My family was up against
a lot of problems, but we had strengths too. There were some adults in my community who played important roles at just the right times and helped ensure my safety, but also saw the best in me, believed in me and gave me access to resources.
I always felt like I wanted to be that “someone” for somebody else. I naturally became curious about poverty, class, gender, marginalization and the role of young people in the community. This was the foundation for my interest in psychology. My guidance counselor in high school said, “Well, you already have a lot of experience with this, so you’ll have an advantage.”
One of the first classes I signed up
for in college was called something like American Radical Thought. I was hooked
on social justice from there. I decided I wanted to spend my time talking to individuals about how to change the world from the inside out.
DI: Tell us about your current role as a mental health therapist at RIT’s Counseling and Psychological Services.
AR: I currently serve as a mental health therapist and groups coordinator at RIT. I provide individual and group therapy
to both undergraduate and graduate students. I also supervise new counselors as part of our training program.
I love working with students because it is such a time of learning and growth. As I mentioned earlier, college was a turning point for me in new thinking
and opportunity. It felt like finally I was in charge of
my own life. I think a lot of college students, no matter
what background, begin to feel that way. College is a great time to come to
counseling and investigate yourself, your values and your worldview. College also presents a lot of challenges. Students engage with developmental turning points about independence, sexuality, relationships, motivation, success and self-esteem. Many students also get
time away to reflect on family dynamics and start to think, “Wait a minute ... That wasn’t healthy!” It’s a critical time toward understanding the self, family and community.
DI: What is necessary for someone to be successful working in this type of setting?
AR: Stepping foot on any college campus, it becomes immediately apparent that you are entering a unique
community and culture. We can serve students better if we get involved in outreach [and] collaboration and even just walk around so we know what’s going on. College mental health providers are working in a unique system, and every problem you see should be placed in context.
It’s also important to have a good understanding of human development and the development of psychopathology to understand how mental health concerns emerge with young people. Some students will be experiencing a first major depressive disorder or panic attack in college and getting treatment for the first time. It can be a critical time for psychoeducation.
It helps to be a jack-of-all-trades. We meet with students who face a wide range of stressors and experiences. We need
to know something about how to help with concerns as wide-ranging as eating disorders, transgender care and challenges related to being on the autism spectrum.
DI: What counseling theory or approach do you follow most closely?
AR: I love narrative therapy and other constructivist theories. I like creating meaning with clients in sessions. The heart of my skill as a therapist is listening with curiosity. Narrative techniques
have allowed me to take full advantage of my curiosity and creativity. Narrative techniques help to listen closely for exceptions to problems, ways to separate the person from the problem, alternative understandings and [then] try to deconstruct the forces behind problems.
Group work is also very powerful to me. Group sessions allow for clients to learn and practice new skills, be validated by peers and support one another’s goals.
12 | | August 2016
Amy Rosechandler

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