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Alumni Spotlight: Nicole Freeman

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Who is Nicole Freeman?

Thanks for asking! I am a mother and a wife and a burgeoning psychotherapist. I graduated in March with my Master’s in counseling psychology. I’m tired but it’s a good tired because my life has purpose and direction

Tell us about Your Work –

I work at an adolescent RTC in Ojai, CA as a primary therapist. My days are spent utilizing DBT, metaphor, and imagination to attempt to outfox my clients who are in the throes of adolescent angst. My goal is to keep my kiddos alive long enough for them to discover exactly how precious their lives are.

How/Why did you get into this line of work?

I was working at a psychiatric hospital that burned down during the Thomas Fires in California last December. I began working as a residential counselor in April and was promoted to interim Primary Therapist in July and then Primary Therapist in September. I am called to work with adolescents and this work seems to complete me. I have adolescent daughters so my client’s are amazed at how culturally relevant I am. I don’t tell them it is because I spend my downtime looking at memes and listening to Travis Scott and Lil Uzi Vert under the tutelage of my kids.

What is most rewarding about it; what makes it all worthwhile?

When a kid admits to my facility, I usually dislike them. They present as behavioral or oppositional. Within a few days they are vulnerable and quirky and I fall in love with them. This process never ceases to amaze me.

What are the most critical problems faced?

Suicide culture, social media, and the inability to be bored. Those are the trifecta of adolescent mental health struggles in my opinion. Navigating insurance can be difficult. Parents who are experiencing guilt and shame surrounding placing their children in treatment. Some become treatment interfering as a way to regain some control.

Has there been a defining moment your life that made you decide to take the direction that they did? 

I was lounging at The Sacred Space in Summerland with my oldest daughter, Helena. I knew I was ready for a change. It must have been the ions because I decided in that moment to attend Pacifica.

If we’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for you, what would be your “dream” achievement?

To become licensed (I have 800 hours left to accrue). I want, most of all, to be free. Free from debt, anxiety surrounding my perceived inadequacies, and the constraints of time. It’s a lofty dream.

How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?

This is extremely difficult! I get a kick out of my youngest daughter, Ingrid asking me if I “held space” everyday. That keeps me on the rails. Personally, the most difficult thing is being able to detach from work when I’m not at work. Management and petty requirements of the organization cause me more stress than the kids or their families. 

About Pacifica and You –

What brought you to Pacifica?

I fear this won’t be a glamorous answer but Pacifica was close to home and didn’t require the GRE. Now that I’m a hardcore Jungian I understand it was serendipity all along.

How has your Pacifica degree served you professionally in your occupation or your vocation?

I think evidence based organizations are intimidated by my degree. My abilities have been underestimated or seen as adversarial at times because the assumption is that I am resistant to certain treatment modalities or that I’m a hippie. Honestly, I’m savvy enough to use depth in conjunction with any modality. My goal is to help my clients using whatever works best in the moment.

How has your degree served you personally?

This question is almost too big to answer. Every single area of my life has been transformed. Attending Pacifica was like seeing a new color. I couldn’t have even imagined it until I experienced it. 

Any last thoughts/a favorite quote?

  • “Know thyself”
  • “The future is roses”

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