Oftentimes in my first session with a client, we’ll discuss their longer-term dreams and goals. I.e. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Besides a brief phase where I wanted to be a secret agent for the FBI or play basketball for the WNBA, I could confidently answer that I wanted to be a mental health therapist. (Although, if the FBI happens to recruit me to solve a high profile case at any point in my life, the answer is a resounding “yes”)!
Several events have been formative in my pursuit toward a career in counseling. Firstly, I grew up with a mom who was a counselor at my elementary school and church. This exposed me to the possibility of helping kids and their families in a deeply personal way, and it certainly inspired my interest toward a career as a helping professional.
Secondly, loving someone with a developmental disability opened my eyes to the immense challenges that face individuals with such diagnoses (like autism). “Back in my day”, not much was known about autism in the general public, let alone the medical community. The lack of understanding and limited support, in combination with bullying and cruel treatment would lead anyone to despair. At that time and even now, I feel anger in recalling these events, and that is what stirred me toward action.
Now to get a little more personal with my own struggles (oh yes, I have plenty!). Anxiety. It’s the worst. And I had a bountiful supply of it growing up. Battling anxiety as a child and as an adult can be shameful, lonely, and feel hopeless at times. Struggling through such issues has allowed me to practice more genuine empathy with my clients, no matter their version of pain. I’ve also experienced the freedom that comes from effective help. My hope is to pass along such a life-line to others.
After graduating from Mississippi Statue University with a BS in Psychology, I went on to get my Masters degrees in both Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Applied Behavior Analysis. All the while, I have had the privilege of working in a variety of mental health settings, including residential, partial hospitalization, and outpatient individual and group care. Throughout these settings, I worked with complex cases including chronically suicidal and self-harming individuals, oftentimes with many prior treatment failures. As a result of expert training in this area, I was able to able to become one of the first Linehan Board Certified DBT Clinicians in the state of Tennessee, which has been a tremendous honor that has allowed me to offer my clients the assurance that my therapeutic approaches are up to evidence-based standards.
But don’t worry, I never gave up on my first mission: to offer support and guidance to individuals diagnosed with developmental disabilities. Since becoming licensed as a behavior analyst, I have run social skills groups, provided school-based interventions, and offered individual and family treatment for those affected by developmental disorders. And I truly love this work. It has been highly rewarding to go alongside this population and their families and personally witness their growth, their unique gifts and personalities, and their resilience in the face of much adversity.
Throughout these formative years, I’ve seen such high needs, yet scarce available and effective care. As my mission has been shaped, I have dreamed of opening a practice with like-minded professionals, trained in evidence-based care, with the ability to be compassionately present with each child, adult, or family who walks through our door. Germantown Behavioral Solutions has been that dream realized for me, and I hope that it can be an encouragement, support, and needed resource for our community, for you, and for your loved ones.
About the author: Emily Vanderpool is the owner/ founder of Germantown Behavioral Solutions. She is a Licensed Behavior Analyst, a Licensed Professional Counselor, and a Dialectical Behavior Therapy-Linehan Board Certified (DBT-LBC) Clinician. Outside of work, Emily enjoys spending time with her husband, their two boys, and their dog Penny. You can catch her rooting on the MS State bulldogs, watching HGTV and subsequently attempting some home improvement DIY on her house, or enjoying the great outdoors on their family farm.