Name: Jill Nelson
Licensing Info: Licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC), Illinois, License #180.010125
Where do you live? Chicago, Humboldt Park
Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Time working at Talkspace: 4 months
Time working as a therapist: 6 years
Why are you working in therapy/mental health?
So many reasons. It began when I was a kid and loved the original “The Bob Newhart Show.” Newhart played a psychologist who lived in Chicago, and I wanted to be him. I loved the idea of sitting down, talking to people and finding out more about them. It recently dawned on me — 40 years later — that I’ve made my dream come true!
I also was a very hypervigilant, anxious child due to circumstances in my upbringing and that affected me the rest of my life. It wasn’t until I sought answers through my own therapy that I realized the ramifications of my upbringing and how those issues carried through my adult years. The journey was so satisfying and enlightening.
Finally, I worked for many years (after I left the corporate world) as a fitness specialist, and discovered I was challenged and motivated by helping people to make their own healthy lifestyle changes. Many times, issues arose and created an obstacle to their progress and I wanted to learn more about how to better address their issues.
So, later in life, I enrolled in graduate school and eventually became a licensed counselor, and eventually a licensed clinical counselor (the highest level counselor license in Illinois). I have my own face-to-face practice in Chicago, and I also see health coaching clients in my studio, plus now I have my online practice through Talkspace. I love it! In fact, I was reading an article today about retiring early, and I thought, “How lucky am I that I don’t want to retire! I love what I do so much that I cannot imagine living without it!”
What made you start working at Talkspace?
Frankly, I was being nosy! I had never heard of Talkspace, so when the ad popped up on my Facebook, I wanted to find out more about the company and how this kind of therapy worked. I had heard of teletherapy, but this was different. I followed the link and the rest is history!
I had no intention to work with Talkspace and no preconceived notions about the company. But when I learned what Talkspace is all about, I wanted to work with them. Then, after I attended the Future of Therapy Clinical Conference, I was pretty amazed at how extremely lucky I am! I cannot express enough how impressed I am with Talkspace.
What has made you feel the most pride in your work?
I feel the most gratification when a client has an “A Ha!” moment, specifically by seeing the client do the work to get there. I feel I am merely holding the flashlight so that others can begin to see as their eyes adjust to new perceptions.
Can you think of a specific instance that was inspiring?
There have been several. Recently a client had one of those moments I mentioned when she began to realize her behavior was actually enabling others to treat her a certain way. Something finally resonated, and it was so cool to watch her body language and listen to her words. I could tell she was incredulous! And the light bulb illuminated! This is so inspiring.
Why is what you do so important?
I am an existentialist by nature and very pragmatic in my technique. Life is short; death gives meaning to life. So how can we live our lives to their highest and best potential? I believe that means finding the middle way to happiness and peace. Many of us have experiences that have gotten in the way of that happiness and peace, and I feel it is important to surmount those obstacles to improve the remaining part of our life.
If you had one piece of advice for a therapy seeker, what would it be?
I would advise them that mental health changes happen over a long period of time because we have spent many years with our brains wired in particular ways. It takes time to reveal what those ways are, figure out why they wired in that fashion and then work to make positive changes. I’m a big interpersonal neurobiology nerd and I apply in my practice the findings from recent neuroscience research. Change takes time, effort, tears, commitment and motivation, but it will be worth it in the end.
What do you do for fun?
Years ago, I was crazier than I am today! I rode my bike from Minneapolis to Chicago to raise money for AIDS research, I ran marathons, did triathlons and was a part-time drill instructor in a fitness bootcamp. I also was a founding member of the Windy City Rollers roller derby league, was their trainer and skated on a team. My derby name was “Ivana Krushya.” But now my beat up body can’t handle that stuff anymore, so now I enjoy spending time at home with my three dogs and cat, and love to cook and read… books about neurobiology, of course!