Tiffanie Leyvas is an associate therapist who evaluates, diagnoses, and treats individuals with emotional disorders. Prior to obtaining her license, she was a stay at home mother, which she considers one of the biggest blessings in her life. Once her kids grew up and were leaving for college, Tiffany decided to go back to school to pursue a degree in professional counseling.
“I think there is a lot to be said about going back into the work place after you’ve been home…I had a friend say to me, you’ve got to give yourself a break… you have to relearn the process of having a job.” Not long ago, Tiffany broke her arm. She was home alone with her new rambunctious puppy. The puppy got under her feet, tripped Tiffany, and she fell and broke her arm. Retelling this story, Tiffany laughs; an ode to her great sense of humor. She called five of her friends looking for a ride to the emergency room, all of whom weren’t able to come and help. “My five best friends are all working! They’re killing it! And I thought I love that, that’s so fucking cool! And then I got back to my arm is broken!”
In total, it’s been a 5-year process. Tiffany went to graduate school online then did her clinical internship with Hospice. “School was easy. What’s scary is when you are sitting in front of someone and you’re thinking what the hell am I supposed to say?” While at Hospice, she provided grief therapy for loved ones whose family members had died. “I was seeing death every day, seeing people mourning, but I was still able to get in the car and go home and do what I needed to do. I think where that comes from is knowing that if I wasn’t there to help them, it would have been worse.” Upon receiving her associate license, Tiffany found a private practice where she is now working towards obtaining her next license, which will allow her to practice as a private therapist.
“I wanted to be a therapist because I grew up with a lot of family issues. I wanted to work with divorced families. Then I went to Hospice and realized I loved this sector and they needed so much help… I want to work in trauma.” Now Tiffany mostly works with patients suffering from some sort of trauma disorder and she credits her capability to empathize as her strongest skill. “I feel like I have an advantage because I’ve suffered depression. I had childhood depression. I had adult depression… I can lend a lot to my clients through my own mental illness.”
“It’s very rewarding! I mean if you think about it this way, I have 35 clients. At the end of the week I’ve seen 35 people and I’ve made things easier for them. That’s a nice thing.” Thirty-five sessions coupled with all the subsequent paperwork and her continuing education, one has to ask, how does she manage work life balance? Tiffany says she’s still learning: “I think it’s because I’m a new therapist. My toolbox is not full. Even when I’m done with the day and I’m fairly caught up on paperwork, I look to the next day and see what’s going on. And I’ll say okay what do I know about this and how to help someone? Then it’s 8 o’clock and I’m reading about abandonment or what’s the best therapy modality for learning about abandonment issues. That won’t be forever. They’ll be in my toolkit!” Even as Tiffany does homework and prepares for upcoming sessions, there’s an expectation to be available in case one of her clients needs her; the job doesn’t really end. What is the biggest takeaway though? “I think as a therapist you learn everyday from your clients about yourself. If you’re not you should be.”
Life experience is a huge thing. Tiffany and other women like her serve as reminders that at any point in our lives we may find a new path and pursue new careers. Life is about learning, evolving, and enjoying the ride. Don’t let the fear of starting out or making a change inhibit you from taking action. And if you’re ever getting frustrated because you feel like your girl friends are all too busy working and kicking-ass, practice a little patience and remember that’s so fucking cool!