I’ve learned along the way that I have a knack for distilling ideas into useable, applicable concepts. So, whether it is in the therapy room, on the written page, or while speaking and training, each outlet sharpens me for the others. When I’m synthesising ideas and applying of concepts, I’m in the zone.
I feel that my purpose in this life is best fulfilled as I place myself in both religious and nonreligious spaces and serve as a guide towards a richer and more satisfying life…the life I believe God wants for everyone. In my private practice as a therapist in Towson, MD, I work with a delightfully diverse clientele. My clients are straight, queer, nonbinary and cisgender. Some are serious Jesus-followers and church-goers, but others are non-religious spiritual folks, atheists, and both secular and Orthodox Jews. Each person’s story, perspective, and life challenges move me, teach me and make me a better therapist and human being.
“His blood is sick and it’ll get better.” This was the thought I had when my parents tried to explain leukemia to me. A year later, after my father died, my worldview fundamentally changed. From then on, I believed that any bad, sad thing could happen. A hard lesson for an eight-year-old, but one that made me someone who could hold and handle my friends’ pain without needing to fix it, bright side it, or reframe it.
In my twenty’s, my mother said, “have you ever considered being a therapist?” I balked, partly because I couldn’t bear the thought that my mother had such keen insight about me. But also because I had this idea that being a therapist meant doing the same thing, day after day, session after session. That terrified me. At the time, I was in campus ministry and I loved the mix of speaking, strategizing, leading, and training that was mixed in with the one-on-one connections with students. I couldn’t imagine giving up the variety in my day-to-day work life. But since I took the plunge, the intrigue and challenge of each client and their story has drawn on all the different parts of me. And I love it.
Ruth Haley Barton
Hillary Jacobs Hendel