For Holly Patterson, counseling others in their grief is also a healing process for her.
When her husband, Tim Patterson, died from cancer in February of 2014, like most any spouse would be her world was shattered. A teacher at the time, she felt going back into the classroom while grieving was not an option – and she grieved for a long time.
But while processing her grief, she came to a decision that helped herself and others.
“I spent four years processing my grief, working on my school counseling masters, my grief certification, then finally making a third career change and deciding to get my masters in psychology to be a fully licensed therapist,” she said. “I tell my story to give others hope when their grief journey feels hopeless.
“(Author) David Kessler writes about the sixth stage of grief, finding meaning. When you can find meaning in a significant loss, healing can be felt.”
In May of 2021 she graduated from Amberton University and now she works with Taylor Counseling Group in their Waco office.
“The reason I became a therapist is because I wanted to be available for someone else who is going through grief. I was in education at the time and knew school counseling was not going to satisfy my counseling itch,” Patterson said.
Patterson said her favorite value that represents her work at Taylor Counseling is the phrase ‘human capital.” As the quality of clients’ lives increase, they will enrich the lives around them.
“We believe that as the value of human capital increases, so will the value of our communities and our society as a whole,” she said. “This means countless lives are impacted when a person seeks mental health therapy.
“Growing forward, to me, equates to healing. We continue to heal daily and don’t stop healing, if we’re lucky. Every time you share your story, you heal. This is why healing can last a lifetime.”
Patterson said in order to fully help her clients, she makes sure they know she understands where they are. While the pain will never completely go away, sharing her story creates a therapeutic relationship good for both her and the client, along with building a necessary trust.
Patterson also advises anyone who has lost a loved one to consider group therapy, especially if money is an issue as finding individual affordable therapy can be an issue. However, she noted that Taylor offers affordable care using a sliding scale.
“I am an associate which means I am still working on my hours to become fully licensed. Therefore, I am a part of the Affordable Care program because I cannot accept insurance, according to the State of Texas,” she said.
But whatever direction, she strongly suggests reaching out to someone. It can make all the difference in the world, and she’s proof.
“I’m proof that someone can grow forward in grief and find meaning in such a great loss,” she said.