Who is Maxine B. Langdon Starr?
I think of myself as creative, honest, hard-working, and fun-loving.
Tell us about your work –
I’m a full time Educationally Related Mental Health Therapist for the Upland Unified School District, primarily at the high school and secondary levels. I work within Special Education but am available to the whole staff and student body to help support mental health needs.
I am also co-owner/partner of Sunflower Therapies in Rancho Cucamonga, California, an interdisciplinary, family owned and operated private practice providing children, adolescents, and families with counseling and speech and language services.
I like to think of my client as the expert of their own situation. I cherish and appreciate the opportunity to experience a person’s life story from their perspective.
In addition, I have been teaching as an adjunct professor at several institutions: Brandman University (Palm Desert, Irvine, and San Diego campuses) and Chapman University, in their Marriage and Family Therapy programs, and National University, in their School Psychology, School Counseling, and Applied Behavior Analysis degree programs.
How/Why did you get into this line of work?
When I was a 13-year old in middle school, I experienced a great
deal of bullying. This was before mental health services were officially offered in schools. Thankfully, a school counselor and personal therapy helped me make it through my teenage years. I eventually worked through my stressors and made it my mission to help teens and young adults work out their issues. I love what I do!
What is most rewarding about it; what makes it all worthwhile?
I really respect all of my patients and students because I recognize
that they have a unique story and/or life path that they are willing to share with me. We are able to create truly meaningful relationships through openness and understanding.
What are the most critical problems faced?
Aligning the schools/educational systems and principles of psychotherapy is not always easy!
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?
I have a dream to continue incorporating psychotherapy into educational (K-12) settings. I wish to continue the interdisciplinary work I’ve been able to do with school psychologists, counselors, and speech language pathologists. My special dream is to start working on a book that addresses counseling principles for other disciplines outside of psychology (education, speech and language).
How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?
I make sure to schedule in some form of self-care at least once every week, whether it is taking a new fitness class, alternative medicine appointment, or a spa/staycation experience. Sometimes I take a new way home in the evening, or make a point to re-connect with nature, or an old friend, and turn off the technology.
I enjoy blogging about self-care on YourTango (https://www.yourtango.com/experts/doctor-starr), and in fact I have added a second specialty to my practice (besides adolescents): women and self-esteem. So I make a point to practice what I preach!
About Pacifica and You
What brought you to Pacifica?
I loved and appreciated my Master’s Training and all the techniques I learned, but I missed the therapy room. I wanted to learn how to harness more of myself as a therapist and bring that, as well as other disciplines, such as religion, mythology, and philosophy along with it so that I could better serve patients (and students!) wanting to take a deeper inventory of themselves.
How has your Pacifica degree served you professionally in your occupation or your vocation?
Pacifica has offered me a wealth of knowledge, helping me to further develop myself as a clinician, thus enabling me to better assist my wide variety of patients, as well as the way in which I present material to students. Pacifica Graduate Institute has helped me journey to a place of working not just from a particular treatment modality, but also from a place that incorporates various disciplines outside the realm of psychology, and from a genuine place of soul.
How has your degree served you personally?
It’s helped me with self-esteem, confirming that I can do whatever I put my mind to! Completing a doctorate degree while finishing my associate hours on the road to licensure as an MFT was no easy feat. I really am proud that I was able to accomplish so much; especially when in addition to my academic responsibilities, I was dealing with some extremely difficult family matters. I knew that finishing my education was a priority and I am glad I stuck with it!
Any last thoughts or a favorite quote?
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. -Confucius