Year of Graduation: 1997
Major(s): Psychology and Theater
Graduate School: Drama Therapy-New York University; Clinical Psychology-Minnesota School of Professional Psychology
Please give a brief description of your current position and where you're working.
I'm a drama therapist and psychologist at Allina Health in Richfield, where I provide therapy and testing for children, adolescents, and adults.
What path did you follow to arrive at your current job?
My path started at CSB where I completed a double major in theater and psychology. From St. Ben's, I applied to New York University for drama therapy. After graduating from NYU, St. Cloud Hospital actually created a job of Drama Therapist for me and I worked there before having my own private practice. However, I felt limited in private practice because there was no licensure of creative arts therapist in Minnesota like there was in New York. I went back to school at the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology to become a psychologist. When I first started, there weren't many drama therapists, so I've been able to watch the field of drama therapy grow.
During the past few years, I have been providing psychological services in a primary care clinic. Working at an Allina Health clinic has given me the opportunity to explore and expand my practice. Because physicians are recommending psychological care or evaluations within their own clinic, patients are more willing to be seen, and more likely to be seen, before their level of distress and impairment would have motivated them to self-refer for mental health treatment.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
I recommend talking with or interviewing drama therapists. Learn about drama therapy from the National Association of Drama Therapy (http://www.nadt.org/ ), and have a strong background in both psychology and theatre.
What skills are important in your field?
Drama therapists and psychologists are able to do good work when they are creative, flexible, compassionate, empathic, and good at time management. Important to recognize that they may not always be the best fit or provider for every person. Just like any relationship, a connection cannot be contrived. Sometimes the best intervention is referral to a different drama therapist or psychologist.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
Being involved in both the psychology and theatre departments really helped me. My professors encouraged me and helped me realize that I had the capacity to do what I wanted to do. Ultimately the relationships that you develop with the faculty are the most valuable for preparing for the future. I was fortunate enough to take classes from and be mentored by two incredible professors, one in each major, Dr. Kaarin Johnston and the late Dr. Linda Mealey. Without these two women, I don't believe that I would have had the confidence or courage to pursue advanced degrees.
What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your job?
I am honored to get to be the person whom people trust with their most uncomfortable emotions. Additionally, I get to witness people changing their lives. To learn more about my work: http://wellness.allinahealth.org/providers/16569
Interested in connecting with alums to tap into their expertise and learn about career opportunities?
Participate in the “Take a Bennie/Johnnie to Lunch” program. To learn more, check out: