IVPC: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. I wanted to start by asking what potential clients can expect when working with you?
Emily Wilson: I think they can expect a safe, non-judgmental environment, full of empathy and understanding. They can also expect that I will meet them where they’re at in their journey and that can look different for everyone. We’re there to work together to figure out how each person can either be the better version that they want to be or at least try to find a way to enjoy life.
IVPC: What was your background before coming to InnerVoice?
Emily Wilson: I’m still working with the Alzheimer’s Association and before that, I worked as a certified nursing assistant at skilled nursing facilities and assisted living, and with hospice. I am definitely familiar with death and dying as well as having a terminal illness and how that can affect not only the person experiencing it, but everyone around them as well.
Working at the Helpline as a care consultant, we’re trained with solution focused brief therapy. They invited Yvonne Dolan who’s the founder of Solution Focus Institute. And so it was really great to hear her use SFBT as a natural language of how it’s supposed to be and how these tools truly help a person. It’s really wonderful to see it come together. The reason why I also like that modality is because it’s so collaborative and that’s what my hope is in sessions. It’s collaborative, I want the client to feel heard and be on the same page, even if it means, we have to redefine what our goal looks like.
IVPC: What motivated you to become a therapist?
Emily Wilson: Yeah, I mean that’s such a great question. I think for me I love the aspect of connection. And I think especially working with senior adults and knowing how impactful that connection can be. I enjoy figuring out with clients what well-being looks like for each individual. What happiness looks like or a better version looks like. I want to be able to not only have that connection but to be helpful in that connection, I think is so powerful. I love it so much when something clicks and snaps and you hear that breath of air. It’s awesome.
I really just admire and appreciate the aspect of resiliency and how powerful people can be and how much that they have the ability to change.
IVPC: What would you tell someone considering therapy for the first time?
Emily Wilson: That it’s understandable that it can be scary and daunting. But it’s definitely worth it,especially in the long run. And change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process,it takes time, but it can be such a beautiful journey.
For me, mental health treatment is similar to going to the gym. It’s being able to have that space to care for your brain, for your body, and sometimes even for your soul too. And that this is just part of taking care of yourself. And it is needed.
IVPC: What are your top five wellness and self-care strategies?
Emily Wilson: My top five include going to the gym, having a daily workout but also walking around the lake as long as the weather allows it and of course that we’re not having any forest fires from Canada coming in the area. Definitely a good skincare routine and going to therapy myself. Also, reading and listening to podcasts. I find myself drawn to therapy books and things like that. And leisurely books like Colleen Hoover.
IVPC: What book would you recommend to clients?
Emily Wilson: What Happened To You is my all-time favorite book. I mean, I can read that again and again. There is actually an EMDR section which I loved. It is Oprah and Dr. Bruce Perry, a child psychiatrist/neuroscientist.
Also, Permission to Feel is so great. It has an emotion wheel similar to the one we share with clients. And it talks about how our feelings provide so much information, even the bad ones, or what we perceive as bad, they actually provide the most important information. It discusses how important it is for child development too, to have the ability to process those feelings and to name those feelings.
The author really emphasizes not only why it’s important. But also how it can be applied. Not only in schools, but businesses and everywhere else.
IVPC: What is your personal mantra or motto?
Emily Wilson: I have a few, but one of them that’s been sticking recently is this idea of this too shall pass. Especially when it comes to really heavy or really scary emotions. Just having that reminder the emotion is not going to be all or nothing or forever. That this too shall pass and it will provide so much information and so much opportunity for growth. Especially in those scary moments.
And I think of another quote: avoidance is the heart of suffering. The more you avoid those emotions, the more you avoid not digging deep into those weeds of what’s going on, the bigger it becomes.
Emily earned her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Central Michigan University and her Master’s degree from Loyola University Chicago, and her journey in the field of mental health has taken her through diverse settings, including skilled nursing, assisted living, domestic violence shelters, hospitals, and the Alzheimer’s Association helpline.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
InnerVoice Psychotherapy and Consultation is located in Chicago, IL and Skokie, IL.