After a year of thinking/hesitating/strategizing and doing other things, I'm happy to announce the beginning of my counseling, support and education practice for parents. I couldn't be more excited to be partnering with Ellee Owen & Jolynda Anderson at Birth & Soul. I am so fortunate to be working with those who share my passion for childbirth & parent education, coffee, and out-of-the-box thinking.
My earliest thoughts of starting this began at Familywise while finishing my undergraduate at the University of Minnesota in 2011. I worked with parents, infants and children on optimal emotional, cognitive, language, and physical development. I carried over this interest and experience into Marriage & Family Therapy program at the Adler Graduate School. The Adlerian principles of individuality, social connectedness, and social equality only sharpened my focus and desire to help families. In 2015, I started at the University of Minnesota Health's Recovery Services and spent a year helping families & couples. During that time, I provided education and counseling to families and couples on stress, anxiety, healthy relationships, and communication.
Throughout all of this I became a father...twice.
Becoming a father at a young age is what made this work even more personal for me. I have felt that same feeling of being overwhelmed, confused, and frustrated during this life transition. As a father, I have felt my feelings and experiences were ignored. I have dealt with the sometimes contradicting and confusing expectations from society and loved ones. I have had to learn to better maintain my mental well-being and relationships with the daily and ever-changing demands of my kids.
However, while preparing for my second child, I was fortunate to not only be more experienced but more supported emotionally, physically, and socially. We had consciously decided on a doula & midwife and actively engaged and were supported by them throughout the pregnancy, birth and postpartum. We slowly began to unlearn the belief that asking for help shows "weakness" or "inadequate parenting," and actively sought out our caring, reliable community of friends & family. These sort of experiences dramatically changed my outlook on becoming a father and mental heath professional. This also pushed me to explore and understand other important topics that impact fatherhood including brain changes, social problems, mental health, relationship health, and paternity leave. Eventually, I cumulatively wrote on these topics and more in my thesis on "The Impact of Paternal Perinatal Supportive Services: An Integrative Model Proposal."
While finishing graduate school in 2015, I had the opportunity to talk about my thesis and experience as a father at the Minnesota Fathers and Family Conference in St. Cloud. I was able to share and discuss with other professionals my research on a biological basis for fatherhood and the need for a more integrative model of maternal care for families.
While this was just one discussion and presentation, the interest and excitement from both father and birth professionals in the room validated the need for this kind of support. I am thrilled for this next phase of my journey in helping families and parents. I look forward to giving the encouragement and support all parents and families deserve.