This is the story of three therapists. Their stories are compelling, interesting and add gravitas to their expertise. I am confident when I refer to them that the client is in great hands. Why? Because I know their story–they are boundaried professionals who recognize that their authenticity is a gateway to a relationship. They are not afraid of hiding behind the “therapeutic shield” and have no need to show up at the top of the clinical hierarchy. They share themselves in an completely appropriate way and get terrific results. See what you think–would you refer to these clinicians?


Rose is a missionary child. That is, she was the daughter of missionaries in China. While she lived a blissful existence until the age of 12, her life turned upside down when she came back to the states to go to boarding school. She was an American, with her blonde hair and blue eyes and yet, her cultural orientation was Chinese. Her experience is a dramatic backdrop for her clinical niche; children of immigrants struggling in school; older adoptive children; children of servicemen and women. Her story doesn’t dominate the therapy; it informs it.

Jack is from a small town in Oklahoma. He got great financial aid for college from a prestigious liberal arts college in the northeast and continued on to get his Ph.D. He married, divorced and came out at age 29.

Jack has worked hard to develop new relationships, repair some old ones and maintain his Midwestern roots. He’s faced elitism, bigotry, confusion (his own and others), and alienation. I saw him give a talk at a conference on cultural diversity. Through his own story, and his research on attachment, he showed us how the arc of his experiences informed his counseling practice. His niche? Not what you might think. He has a specialty in Transition to College. He runs a group, does pod-casting around the issue and has a lively Facebook group.

Finally, there’s Katherine. She was a world class runner. Through graduate school, two kids and a busy career as a consultant for managed care, she overcame obstacles that informed her sport–injury, aging, and the pace of a career. She improvised, adapted, switched to biking and brought her kids along. A few illnesses got in the way; and sidelined Katherine while she waded through traditional and eastern medicine to get to the bottom of it.

Her journey has been a series of setbacks, wins and losses. Her story nicely dovetails with her niche: Health and wellness counseling. Her clients are athletes themselves or they are baffled by their own chronic illness and facing some of those same obstacles.

These three therapists take the essence of their stories and share their journey in a compelling, passionate way to initiate change for their clients. The clients are grateful for the access to the whole person. And while, the stories don’t dominate the therapy, the therapy is aided by the story and the struggle. Consider this form of authenticity when discovering your niche and connections.