Three years ago my life looked very different than it does today. I was working at a job that was fulfilling; however it was very stressful. I was working with mentally ill teenage girls. They were emotional, they were sick and they were demanding. Back then, I didn’t know how to set boundaries and I certainly wanted to “save” them all. It was during that time that I decided that this therapist needed a therapist. Luckily, I found a woman who has been a change catalyst in my life and I am grateful for the work she brought me through. She taught me that I needed to work on myself both in therapy and outside of therapy. She reminded me that without forgiveness of my parents, I would be unable to move forward in my life. She confronted me during the hard times and supported me in the good times. It’s been three years of seeing the same therapist that has helped me build a bridge to my most whole self. I am a better therapist because of my own therapy. I learned to connect with myself and in connecting with myself, I have been able to connect with others. I’ve received book recommendations that I now recommend to my own clients. I’ve completed worksheets that I now have my clients complete. And you know what I get to use every time? Empathy. I have been where my clients are sitting; on someone’s couching crying my eyes out, getting confronted for unhealthy behavior, doing homework assignments and getting support from someone who is willing to tell me like it is while always looking out for my greatest good.

In January of the following year, I came across a personal development workshop called “The Living Course”. I decided to take it as a student and it has helped me shift my life in ways I never knew was possible. During the initial course, I learned about my circle of belief, the feelings of sadness, anger, shame and fear and ways I was still looking for approval for others and not living my authentic life. What I didn’t know about the course was that I was able to go back and assist every six weeks and witness others go through the same journey. In the meantime, I was invited to be on the panel of therapists for the course and I’ve been coming back ever since. See my video testimonial here.

Within six months, I was ready to complete their advanced course. This was a series of three weekends over 80 days and a big focus was on teamwork. The first weekend, I learned to process my feelings of sadness about my childhood. I was able to see how that sadness kept me stuck and unable to move forward with my dreams and goals. During the second weekend, I completed a ropes course with the culmination of jumping off a 30 foot telephone pole while giving up my long ingrained pattern of perfectionism. The final weekend was a fire walk. This walk allowed me to see how powerful of a person I truly am. It has helped me see how to empower myself, my clients and everyone around me. The best part of the experience was a group project where we went to Joe DiMaggio’s Children Hospital and threw a Halloween party. We dressed up in costume, attempting to do the Thriller dance and helped make Halloween special for the children in the hospital.

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The final step in my journey was taking the Leadership Course through Personal Development Community Organization. It was five sessions over 10 months and it was intensive, to say the least. I decided to take the course because I knew there was something more out there for me in terms of personal satisfaction. I had a job that was meeting many of my needs but not all of them. I knew that I was set to do something bigger; however the picture was fuzzy at best. During my leadership course, I worked through ways I was still stuck in my life; valuing safety over spontaneity, control versus flow and resentment versus forgiveness. I had to finally forgive my parents for what they never meant to do. I had to learn to let abundance in my life flow in naturally. And I had to learn to let go, have fun, take care of myself and seize the day. During this 10 month period, I was able to get my private practice off the ground, become a more connected and empathetic therapist and say good-bye to a full-time job that was no longer serving me.

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Being a skilled therapist has been about harnessing the tools I already had inside of me and letting them come to light. Doing my work has allowed me to go deep with clients to places I never imagined before because I have gone to those places myself. I was recently listening to a webinar for private practice by Samara Stone and she mentioned that the secret weapon to building a private practice is taking care of yourself and I loved her message because it worked for me. I am grateful for every person who has helped me in my journey of self-discovery. Because of my work, I am now able to better serve my clients on their journey and there’s no place I would rather go with them than to their true, authentic selves.

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Photo credit: Pinterest

Amanda Patterson, LMHC, CAP decided to become a therapist while attending Nova Southeastern University. She saw the need to help people achieve the life they wanted to live, while creating a life of her own. She completed her master’s in Mental Health Counseling and started a career in the juvenile justice arena. Since then, she has started a private practice in Pembroke Pines Florida, specializing in depression, anxiety relationship issues, and substance abuse. Amanda is a believer in holistic treatment and she practices veganism, meditation and yoga in her life. Find out more about her practice here. For a free 15-minute consultation, call or text Amanda at 954-258-8845 or email her at amanda@amandapattersonlmhc.com.