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Episode 8: Brittany Shank and Emily Jones

Brittany and Emily discuss societal views, challenges with the media, and how these hard topics are impacting our lives. Both share their unique experiences in life and their therapeutic experience. We are so thankful to have had them on the show!

Contact Information for Brittany Shank and Emily Jones

Abound Counseling:

Phone: 701-223-1510

Hey guys. On today’s episode I have Brittany Shank and Emily Jones with me. Both are therapists with Abound Counseling in Fargo, North Dakota. I thought it would be good to have them on to talk about social media and society as a whole and how the view of society really impacts us on a daily basis. Not only for ourselves, but for our clients as well. So, I really hope that you enjoy our conversation.

K: Alright ladies, here we go! Thank you for being on the show. This is the first time that I have two guests which is really exciting. So I’m thinking, Emily and Brittany, if you can introduce yourself so people can get an idea of who you are and learn your voices?

B: Absolutely. My name is Brittany Shank. I am a mommy, I am a wife and I am a therapist. I have two little kiddos, one that is four years old and she is the most Independence, spunky little girl I’m pretty sure anybody could ever meet. She will definitely suffice on her own for the rest of her life. We always joke that we try to make sure she goes down one road - either superhero or supervillain. We’re trying really hard not to go down the supervillain road. She has a little brother who is one and a half and he is, naturally, the most chill, the most calm. He is still not fully walking because his older sister will carry him and dote on him in any way that he needs it. So we have two amazing kids that are on totally opposite ends of the spectrum which has really helped me hone in on parenting skills with all different types of kids.

It has also put me at a little bit of ease that who are kids are is not one hundred percent our fault. At some point they are born with a little bit of it. (laughing) That’s kind of my home life. As a therapist, I work for Abound Counseling in Fargo and I’ve been in my position for about two and a half years. It was amazing and such a breath of fresh air to find my passion and find what I was truly meant to do. I feel super super grateful to be able to live that every single day - helping a variety of people and kind of being able to sit with people and help them process stuff. I feel really honored to be a part of a lot of people’s journey and to be able to walk with them.

K: I love that. Thank you so much for sharing about yourself and sharing about your passion. Emily, do you want to introduce yourself?

E: Yeah, sure. Brittany, I hope you don’t mind that I do this but girl, you left out a really important piece. She’s been a long time member of the Air National Guard here in Fargo and I think it’s big so I’m just going to plug that for you.

K: Yes, absolutely. That needs to be added for sure.

E: Sorry if you didn’t want that shared.

B: You are totally fine. Thank you for bringing that up. It’s so easy to gloss over the parts of who we really are. You have these thoughts like I am my occupation and I am a mommy and I am a wife but it’s so easy to glimpse over the other stuff that makes me me, so thank you for bringing that up.

K: Yes, thank you.

E: Yes, of course. So, my name is Emily Jones. I am also a therapist with Abound Counseling in Fargo. I am a North Dakota transplant. I have been a little bit around the United States. I was born and raised in Kentucky and lived there until I was twenty. I lived for a significant amount of time in Washington State and Kansas before my husband retired from active duty in the military and we moved back to North Dakota. I am a retired army wife - that is just one facet of what I am and it is definitely provided perspective and a certain lense on how I communicate and interact with the world. I, as well, am a mom. I have a thirteen year old son and a nine year old son and no, I can’t believe I have children that old. In my mind, I’m twenty. I am amazingly eclectic and a little eccentric, I would say. I really try to bring creativity into what I do and really try to infuse that into most aspects of my life. I am a huge Disney fan, a huge Broadway musical lover and if you ever see me driving down the road, it probably looks like I’m having a seizure because I’m singing along with whatever soundtrack is current at the moment. So, that's me. That’s who I am.

K: Thank you both so much for introducing yourselves. And I do have to say to both of you guys and your families, thank you so much for your service truly because that is not an easy lifestyle by any means. That’s some tough stuff. But I love that reframing of how it can really shift that perspective and shift that leans of how you see the world and that’s so beneficial as well.

Can you guys both take the opportunity before we really jump into this to talk a little bit about the client population that you typically work with so that people have an understanding of that?

E: So, I really like to work with a broad age range of clients. I mentioned I’m a little eclectic and that definitely feeds into my client population. I love working with littles. I am what you would call, DC zero to five trained which means that I am able to diagnose children as young as zero and yes, there is mental health components to that which I think is a conversation for another day. I do love my littles. I have two three year old that I actually see - one on my own and then one in conjunction with another therapist. I could not do that solely so I would say that my favorite population, the ones that just tug at my heart, are those twelve and thirteen year olds, boys and girls. I think that middle school is such a hard, hard piece of life and I love to be able to sit with kids and help them develop who they are and figure out their sense of self. I think it’s super important. I think that a lot of therapists shy away from that for really good reasons because it’s a little scary but I love them and I have an advocates heart so I do feel strongly about helping those kids. But I also really like my adults and I need my adults. There’s no way that I could see just kids so the audlts kind fo give that breath of fresh air for me. It’s a little bit easier. It’s not as tough or time consuming and emotion consuming I would say as well. I see kids, like I said, as young as three and then up to mid-sixties, up towards seventy too. I typically work with kids with pretty significant trauma.

K: Well, thank you so much and I know that we’ve talked about this before but I am very much the same way. I have to have variety. That’s just how I am. My youngest client right now is eight and the oldest that I’ve worked with recently was eighty three. I like a wide range and I think, in a lot of ways, that keeps us on our toes to have to shift and function quickly so I love that you have that same perspective. So, Brittany, do you want to tell us a little bit about your client base?

B: Yes, of course. I do just have to add though that Emily is literally an artist and she is phenomenal with kids who like to express themselves through art so I think that is something that Emily has that I one hundred percent do not have. But I think it gives kids and adults a way of expressing themselves in ways that not all of us therapists can give them. So, if you can pin that on there.

K: Yeah. I did not know that. I am so glad that you mentioned that. I, quite honestly, do not have that either so I’m seriously proud. You should see what I made earlier with a client. I’m seriously embarrassed to show it, to be honest. But I love that you have that talent, so that’s great.

E: Thanks.

B: Okay, so just a little bit about the clientele that I serve - I am very, very, very similar to you guys but with my own little spin on it. So I love to see kids that have had a traumatic experience. So whether that’s kids on foster care or kids that still live with their biological parents or whatever sort of parents they might be living with that have just had a bit of a tougher life. I absolutely love working with those kids. I very specifically like working with kids who are in the foster care system and have had extreme traumas. The stories that kids have that makes your stomach turn a little bit are quite honestly the kids I love working with because it’s so inspiring to see the change in those kids and I think all the time that if you have a kid who can overcome something that makes our adult stomachs turn, like what can’t people overcome then?

E: Preach.

K: I love that.

B: And so those are truly some of my favorite stories, the stories that are so so so difficult to tell because they are just, quite honestly, that horrendous. BUt then to know that we can get through this and you can get through this and your life isn’t your past and doesn’t have to be the life you live. Those are, quite honestly, my favorite cases. But I too like a little bit of a sprinkle of everything because I’m pretty sure that if I did that work eight hours a day every day I’d get burned out quickly so I do like to sprinkle in a little bit of everything. The youngest client that I’ve seen was six months old and normally I get a gasp when I say that but those years or those months are just so so important for kids. I think that’s underestimated and underspoken about that even at six months old they are extreme needs that kids have that are actually very simple to give them if we understand what that is. Yes, I’ve had a six month old before and yes, there was work to do but it was beautiful. I’ve also seen adults. The oldest adult I think I’ve had was in her late sixties. I’ve had a variety in between there. So I like to have perspective from all different avenues and I like to hear stories from all different avenues and watch people heal through all the different frames as well.

I have two other areas that I’m specifically interested in. One of them is mommies who are in the thick of mommy-hood and I think all of us mommies totally get what that means. The tough “I don’t know how I’m going to get through this. I have puke all over my clothes and I’m walking into work and I dealt with five tantrums just getting in the car this morning.” Like that thick mommyhood where you feel like you’re losing who you are and you need to remember who you are while you’re raising these babies that are so miraculous and wonderful. And sometimes you may not be able to work with them through that miraculous and wonderful and that’s okay. To help those people really in the thick of mommyhood is one of my passions mostly because I too struggle with it and have struggled with it and I think there’s something in being able to connect with people who just truly get it.

K: I would absolutely agree with that and I love the way you word it - that is the best. You honestly could not have written a better summary for where your heart is at with that. That is a passion of mine as well and there is such truth in what you said. There is something to be said for coming alongside somebody and saying “This kind of sucks. Let’s just call it like it is.” Not every moment is beautiful and that’s okay! I love that you’re doing that work. That’s great.

B: It is. And I think we need permission to know that. To know that sometimes people think, “What in the world did I get myself into here?” And then twenty minutes later to think, “Oh my gosh! How could I have felt that way?!” That’s normal. It’s normal. Having somebody that understands that is just so beautiful and so necessary.

The other piece of work that I just have a lot of passion for is, like Emily had mentioned earlier, I am a veteran of the military and I have been enlisted for thirteen years and one of the opportunities that I got through them is to work with victims of sexual assault, survivors of sexual assault. That is just a piece of my heart that I have a passion and people who have been through that and their heroism of getting through that is just an extreme passion of mine. Military, military veterans that have endured sexual assault either within or outside of the military really have a true piece of my soul. That’s the clientele population that I see and who I spend my days with. I do get, and Emily has heard this so many times, I do see really little kids. I’m also certified in the DC 0-5 but quite honestly I’m super super super - I don’t want to say picky because I don’t think that’s true, but aware of how many of those little littles I see that takes the most energy out of me and not in a necessarily bad way by any means but it takes more of my mind to work with those kids and thinking a little bit differently with the really little littles-.

E: There’s so much more systemic there, too because it’s not like taking the kid. It’s truly a whole system perspective that you use with those littles.

B: And I am so much a believer in therapy that allows for attachment and connection and involvement of whatever caregiver is involved. With especially those little littles I feel like the therapy is not just for the little kiddos. It’s for the entire system around them. I hope it’s a service to everybody - to myself, the kiddos and the families surrounding them as a whole but I just choose to not take too many of those on. That way, with the ones that I do have, I can give my best attention them.

K: I think that’s great. It’s great to be able to acknowledge that and just have that insight to know what our balance - if there really is a thing called balance - you know? What we feel comfortable doing so that we can show up as the best versions of ourselves. I love that you’re very honest about that. You know, one of the things that I”m just really interested in is how the reporting in America - news reporting, social media, all of those little avenues that we didn’t necessarily have before, how that’s really affecting ourselves and affecting our clients. Are you guys noticing that with clients? Do you notice that there’s almost a fear-base to reporting that is greatly affecting our clients on a daily basis?

E: I definitely find it with my teenagers. Maybe it’s not so much with the reporting as it is with the social media and I know that’s not the question that you were necessarily asking but there is a lot of that fear and even as they’re just scrolling through social media, a lot of the associated press media is embedded within that so things on Instagram - a lot of my teenagers tell me that I’m an old person because I use FaceBook but some of them still use FaceBook. A lot of the older ones do. And I definitely see it with some of my adult clients that i see like, “Can you believe this is happening?” I think that’s the pervasive feeling amongst everyone and not just my clients that I see but in my personal life as well is that constant question of “Can you believe this?” I do think that it has an impact. It definitely has an impact on me as a human being.

K: Right. Right. And I love that you brought that up. That’s one thing as well. Everyone is just so exposed. We think about it in two parts. We think about how it affects clients that we’re working with. It also affects us individually and affects our work with them if that makes any sense. It’s kind of hard to navigate that at times and so I’m wondering if you guys have some recommendations. What do you share, even with family members and friends. How do you recommend to navigate social media or news outlets? A lot of people wake up in the morning and what do they do? They turn on the news and then you hear fifty bad things that have happened. How do you guys recommend people navigate that?

B: Well first can I ask are we talking about reporting of anything specific? Or are we just talking about social media in general as a whole of what we’re seeing on there?

K: I would say in general and maybe you guys can give some feedback on this as well. Most of the time what I notice in daily life and with clients is that there seems to be just a few topics that are most triggering for people. The other portion of things is that whenever there is something that comes out on the news like a sexual assault or anything that is related to addiction. Those two particular topics seem to specifically be the most impactful to people on a daily basis. So I’m wondering client-wise, yourself-wise, family-wise, how do you even navigate that?

B: Emily, if you don’t mind me taking over here for a second. I think that social media or I know that social media is super tricky. Regardless of what realm we’re looking at. So if we’re talking about some of the hot topics like reporting of sexual assault or political campaigns or anything like that, I think that what is tough is many times when those things are brought up, it almost causes a fight. Well, it doesn't almost. It causes a fight. You have somebody from each end that are fighting their side of it and then the people who are in the middle are not voicing their opinions, kind of being like the monkey in the middle. Does everybody know what the monkey in the middle is? It’s like they’re being bantered from side to side. The thing that we’re missing though is at what point do we come together? At what point do we respect each other and start building each other up instead of fighting for a side. Emily and I truly have discussed this concept quite often in many different realms but the concept of if we’re feeling anger or jealousy, really the human piece of that is somehow coming together in that instead of fighting. We all know about the highschool girls where one girl is jealous of the other and so she starts making fun of and getting all of her friends to make fun of the girl she’s jealous of but if anybody actually sat down with the girl who’s kind of the head of the bullying and talked to her about what her true feelings are and it came out that actually I am a little bit jealous and what could I do to fix it? What could I do to change the things about me that I’m so self-conscious of? It would help us so much but we’re so secluded in our sides so often and so against coming together. Rarely with a Republican or Democrat link hands with someone the opposite of you. It seems so foreign in our society right now. But gosh, that’s what we need for healing. We don’t have to fundamentally agree on the differences we have but there are some fundamentals we can agree on like we’re all human and we’re all people and let's all start building each other up instead of constantly pulling each other down.

K: You know, Brene Brown, you guys have probably heard of her work. You’ve probably heard of her concept as far as either you’re with us or against us. She calls it like it is - she says that’s complete bullshit because it’s not. You don’t have to agree with somebody at all points. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you are completely against everything that person believes but you may have some variation and differences and that doesn’t mean you’re an enemy. That’s where I think it gets misconstrued is a lot of times you feel like if someone doesn’t agree with you, they’re absolutely the enemy and you have to believe they are.

E: To piggyback off of what Brittany was saying, there’s this idea of winning and losing. We’re so in this shifted mindset of not collaboration, that there’s got to be a winner and there’s got to be a loser but in reality, when we have that mindset, everybody’s losing. Everybody’s losing. I want to go back to something that you had mentioned in the way that you had described it as this fear reporting. I definitely feel it myself and often times what I’m doing for myself in that situation is what’s the real point here? I think that we're also in a society where we take authority as all knowing. Whether that be the media, politicians, law enforcement - if they’re in those roles then they must automatically know what they’re talking about and they must be valid sources, right? That’s not necessarily true. What’s behind it? Charley Joyce who actually is the person who created Abound with Lutheran Social Services - he and I have this conversation constantly about the Adlerian concept of therapy. So what that means is what’s underneath that? What’s really under that? When we talk to people who are angry, right? Okay but why? Is it because you’re really hurt? Is it because you’re really sad? That’s what I try to examine when I see news articles come out and try to really figure out what’s the purpose of this? Are you truly telling me this to warn me of this or are you trying to be distracting? I think the media does a really good job of distracting people from the actual news which is actually going on. I’m a little bit of a conspiracy theorist, not going to lie. I really want to know what the actual point is here and I do think there are times when we do need to be informed and we do need to know that this is a real threat. I want to honor that and validate that for sure. But one of the things I tell people all the time is to take it with a grain of salt, right? There’s probably themes of truth to this. If so, what do you need to do with the information? What’s an important concept for you? What does this mean for you? When we’re talking about things like sexual assault and drug addiction, those things are so personal. It’s really hard to separate your own personal experience from what someone else might go through. Recently on the news here in the Fargo area there was a conversation about sexual assault and one of the comments that was made was that as a survivor, this person knew what it meant to be a survivor and so what the other person was going through could not be true because that’s not what happened. Those actions were not what that person did. And that’s just not true. We know that everyone reacts to traumatic experiences very differently. That depends on a lot of factors. The other thing I really urge people to do is let's practice some empathy please. Right? Like, this is not your experience. This is someone else's experience and if you had the same background as them, you might have acted the same exact way. We don’t get to judge someone just because we’re sitting behind a computer screen or a telephone and we are supposedly detached from the situation. We don’t get to not be accountable for the things we do and say.

K: I think that’s a big portion of it though, don’t you think? Sometimes it feel like, because it’s separated, whether you’re typing it out on FaceBook or commenting on whatever, it’s separated so people don't think that they’re held responsible for the statements that they’re making but unfortunately, those statements have huge impacts. As we all know, our words matter. There will be times, I’ll be honest, when I’m reading an article and I read some of the comments and I would love to be like, “That is just a really ridiculous point of view!” But I don’t do that because is it going to be beneficial to me? No. Is it going to be beneficial to them? No. And is it going to solve anything? Nope. And so that’s what i really encourage people to think about. Is it beneficial to you? Is it beneficial to them? Does it solve anything? If it doesn't, then why even engage in that in the moment if it’s just going to cause more frustration and turmoil in your own life?

I also think as social workers - do you think we have a unique view? Like a unique ability to see all sides of the situation?

E: To a detriment.

B: Yes, absolutely. Because we hear it. We are so lucky and so honored to hear people’s stories but we get to hear stories from all different sides. I talk about working with kids in foster care. Often times when you work with kids in foster care, you’re working with the whole support system which often times will include parents, it will include foster parents, grandparents and so you have a kiddo that comes in and tells their story and maybe the person that caused their neglect or their abuse was a mom or a dad and then often times you’ll hear the mom or the dad’s side of it and it really puts in that perspective how different things can be viewed and how different something you didn’t envision happening could happen. It really kind of humbles your soul a little bit into not judging so hard, to accept that there could be opposite sides to the story or that somebody might have viewed the story a lot more differently than you did. Often times I talk about the elephant in the room and if there was this elephant in the room, and we’re all sitting and wherever your chairs are in the room and we’re all staring at the same elephant. If I said, “Hey, everybody describe this elephant to me.” All of our descriptions are one hundred percent different. I’m describing the butt, they’re describing the legs or the arms but it’s all the same person or situation. It’s all right.

It’s just seen in a different view.

K: Oh, I love that. I’m going to remember that one. I’ll give you credit but I’m going to remember that one.

B: You know the other thing I just can’t help but think of when we’re talking about kind of the winning and the losing with political tides is I think when we fight to make other people look bad, we’re really losing a lot of people in the middle of that. I don’t care if we’re voting for sheriffs or mayor or county commissioner or presidents or any of those elected officials. Whoever that is - it’s almost gotten to the point that we know more dirt on them than we know about the good they’re going to do for us. What kind of society is that to live in? Where the person we’re electing is based on who has the least amount of judgement. What type of people have the courage - there’s lot of them but really, we’re minimizing our schools if we say, “Brittany, if you ever want to be elected as a judge in your city, you’re going to need to go under this scrutiny where instead of us knowing about the good you can do, I want to know about all of the bad things that might come up with you. I think that really refines the people that are going to come forward for that position and additionally, I think we lose a lot of voters in that case. I think it’s hard to feel good about voting on the least worst, if you will.

K: I have honestly said that sometimes. Sometimes I do feel like I”m just voting for the least terrible person and I agree. I think that would be fantastic to have more of a focus but even now with election and everything going on, we’re getting all of these ads and in one second it’s towards one person, in the next second, it’s towards the other and so attacking and so negative. At this point, the majority of people that I run into just in life are like, “I cannot wait for this to be done because I’m over all of the negativity during election time.”

E: My thirteen year old threatened to burn a flier that showed up in our mailbox because he’s so done with it. This child doesn’t even watch tv. Everything he’s seeing is ads on YouTube and that is pretty significant. They’re just being bombarded with all of this negativity, like you said and he doesn’t care about who did what. Like Brittany’s talking about, here’s my thirteen year old and this is what we’re teaching him politics is and we hold our children to a higher standard for being kind and not bullying than we do elected officials.

B: You know a lot of community is voting is down it's been a tough time especially with the younger crowd coming forward to vote. I have to put some weight on the fact that at some point are teaching our young people that this is what voting is about being bashed and about bringing your worst out when all of us as human beings have done good or bad that we’ve done. It doesn't make us good or bad. There is a fear-base then involved in voting more people are wanting to be voted into something. It’s really truly no wonder why our younger crowd is not getting into the voting polls where we're seeing the older crowds. I can't imagine that it doesn't have anything to do with being turned off by the ridicule and criticism that's involved in it.

K: Right. I think that you are very very accurate in that. I'm sure that that has an effect and I even think that when kids are young we can set them on a really firm foundation now politically as a whole. I won't say that I can't have an individual impact because it absolutely can but I do think that it can be hard to feel like we as an individual have very much ability to make those choices but even just in our own child's life. For instance, I'm thinking of my son and if he makes a bad decision. Now of course his mom is a therapist and I don't know if you guys do this to but instead of saying like, “Oh you're bad” I will be like, “Well that was a really bad choice. Because he's not bad. He's a great kid. But he's a kid. He's not even 3 and he's going to make some crappy choices. if I as an adult make crappy choices. just like you said earlier I can't hold him to a higher level that I'm willing to hold myself and I can't tell him that he's bad because he makes a mistake if I'm not willing to look at myself and say that was a really crappy mistake. You know it makes me think of that conversation that we had, Emily, where we talked about how we wanted other people to believe that we have changed from who we were in our past lives but we don't want to believe that they are any different.

B: You know I totally agree with that. When I was in high school, I made really bad choices. I made the person who I was look terrible and quite honestly even to this day when I run into somebody and they ask if they know me from high school it takes just about everything I have not to run and hide. But I want them to know that just because I made poor choices at that time in my life does not mean that I am still those choices or that that's my core of my being. And I think you are so on point Kelly with what we’re teaching our kids. We Implement something very similar at home and thankfully I have some mentor somewhere that taught me this concept and how we are not what our actions used to be. When we have made a poor decision we have those same talks of so I'm not happy with the choice that you made but I still love you as a person. We literally have those talks where I say mommy is mad right now. Does mommy still love you? Yes. I just don't like the choice you made.

K: Yes absolutely. You know I was thinking just last night oh, it was Halloween so let's be real. If you are a parent then you will just know that Halloween is hard. You go trick or treating, there's just so much going on. It's just exhausting, right?

E: And can I just say, if you don't mind me interjecting here, I had to this morning in session where you could tell but last night was hard. They were wonderful and they worked really super hard but you could tell these poor babies were exhausted. Maybe they had a little too much candy.

K: My son is almost three and so that just takes a lot out of a three-year-old anyway just to be out and doing all of that stop. So last night he was just so tired and he was so mad at me. he likes to say go away and we tell him that that's not nice of course but he says, “Go away Mommy.” I said I'm not going anywhere. It doesn't matter how many times you tell me to go away I'm not going to. Now keep in mind, he was in my room so he was also in my space. He had the opportunity to leave and I let him know that if he wanted to she could. But I think sometimes children need to know that. They need to know that no matter what you say, no matter what you do, no matter what actions you have I'm going to be here regardless.

E: Yup. You might have some consequences for those. And I’m going to love you through it.

K: Yes, absolutely. And how different is that. What a big impact that can make. I also have to note in case anybody is listening to this and thinking of course you guys are therapists. I can't speak for you guys but I am not perfect. I am human and I make mistakes so I think it's important to note that. But I do think if we can Implement those small changes in our children's lives that have an impact, that can have an impact on society as a whole.

B: I think that's what makes us good at what we do. Who wants to go to a therapist that has lived a super good and easy life. Not me! I want to know that you have been through the trenches too and that you know what it feels like oh, that life isn't easy. Life is difficult and rewarding and beautiful all at the same time and that's okay.

K: Yes. I love that. That's a great perspective. I want somebody like I said earlier who will just call it like it is. It sucks sometimes and that's okay. And when somebody can just release it all with you and hold that space for you and your story, that makes such an impact. I agree. I absolutely agree with that.

In thinking about social work as a whole, are there things that you wish people knew about social work that they don't know?

E: I don't want to steal your baby! (laughing)

K: We need a billboard that says that or a bumper sticker. I'm not here to steal your children. That is definitely one thing. (laughing) What about you Brittany? Is there anything that comes to mind?

B: Yeah. That’s a loaded question. We could do a whole podcast on that because there are some things But I could talk about in regards to social work but I don't feel like that's necessarily appropriate today at this time. I guess social work, if I were to describe it oh, I think there's a lot of misconceptions about just what it is. The first time social work was mentioned to me I was going to college to get my degree in criminal justice. It was actually my last semester and somebody mentioned social work to me and the first thing I thought was one, what is that? And two, I'm pretty sure that person doesn't get paid very much. There were things that I learned differently about and I could definitely get up on a soapbox about but we’re going to Past that and I'm going to say that social work is such a beautiful field because there is really truly so much that you can do inside of it. And I am 90% sure that I am a therapist but has not quite been diagnosed with ADHD but is ADHD. I would like to say that the beauty inside of private social work is that you don't have to commit to one thing forever. where are social workers who work for the county and work with kids that are in the child welfare system. There are social workers at homeless shelters, there are social workers in nursing homes, there are social workers that are therapists and there is a whole realm of specializations that you can get into with that. We have social workers that work in all different avenues of life.

If you like working with kids, or elderly, or I'm sure that there are social work positions where you can work with animals in some sort of way, training them to be therapy dogs. I'm sure there is. For someone who has a lot of love for helping people and helping change the world, this is such a beautiful profession for you and I would urge you to get with somebody who has their degree and who loves it to help you explore what that could look like if that feels like a calling to you.

My initial reaction were the two things that I had said and the third was and someone said case management and I was like what is that mean? Case management does not necessarily mean your job. There are also case management jobs fitting for some people but with social work I guess I would like to go to know that there is wealth of different things that you can do inside of this profession if you really believe about ethics and helping people change the world.

K: I really agree with that. To add to that I would say I would really like for people to sit down and have a conversation with a social worker. I think that often in the media we are very much portrayed in a negative light which is really discouraging. I'll be honest with you, to this day my mother hates the fact that I'm a social worker because she just thinks that I'm going to take everybody's babies away from them. That's a battle that I have fought for years but much like Brittany, before I decided to go back to school as an adult and become a social worker, I didn't understand. I did not understand full realm of what this meant and to now be on the other side of it and to understand that there is a very real reason that we are a license to body of professionals is hugely important to understand. There is a reason that we have to do the school that we do. There are reasons that we have to take the exams that we take. And there are reasons that we have to do internships to become licensed in order to call ourselves social workers. We are supposed to be held to a higher standard for ethics and having an unconditional positive regard for humanity. I would love to be able to sit down with the public as a whole and say, “Let me tell you about what I do and how I do it.” I think that toxic systems really play a role in how we are portrayed as a profession.

K: Yes, absolutely. I vote we do another podcast episode of at some point because it sounds like something you both are very passionate about and I do think that for anything by the time this comes out you're going to hear me say the several times but I talked to my husband and we were talking about how there's just these neat to little niches herbal wisdom for Avatar Society I've jobs. For instance the one thing that always comes up when we're talking is making a pencil. There are so many things that go into that when you think about that or making a computer or being a teacher. There are so many pockets of information and so many amazing people that do these jobs and fulfill these needs for us and we just don't know until we know. go to spread that information I feel would be very beneficial so in wrapping this up I want to ask you guys a few questions that I've been asking everyone. I know that you guys are familiar with Brene Brown. Have either of you read her book “Into the Wilderness”?

E: Yep.

B: Yep.

K: Her concept of walking out into the Wilderness and feeling alone and isolated but still taking that step in and then, of course along the way, finding other people out there with you. Can you guys tell me a situation - it can either be professional or personal - but a situation in your life where you really felt like you stepped into the wilderness?

E: That's a really good question. I think that I would have to say really just taking the leap into going back to school as an adult with two small children to become a social worker. it was really hard. It was really tough. And I actually finish school while my husband was deployed to Afghanistan. That was an interesting last couple of semesters for me.

To be honest even in the program that I was in and it was in an excellent undergrad program at Kansas City State University. I cannot say enough good things about their faculty. Even within my cohorts I did not truly feel like I had found my people. I kind of questioned if this was the right thing because I was feeling very connected to the faculty and very connected to the curriculum and all of the tenants but not necessarily to my cohort. And I think that was really an age difference thing. I think it was a life experience thing and I don't say that with any judgment towards my cohort. It was just that feeling of aloneness but I was going to push through this and come through the other side and I'm so glad that I did because that's when I found my people.

K: I love that. Has been my favorite thing hearing different stories from guests as far as going into the Wilderness. The other side of things. I think that is just so motivating and encouraging two people that are on the other side we're on the cusp of stepping out there. To know that things can be better. Will there be hard days? Absolutely. But can it be awesome? Yes for sure. So thank you for sharing that. I appreciate that. So Brittney what about you?

B: Yes. So I kind of alluded a little bit earlier to Mi choices in high school really not being the most gentle or most kind of choices. I really kind of lived this lifestyle of not being quite sure what my purpose was or who there was that I needed to impress or really what life was. really I was like this little tiny floating canoe on the ocean not really knowing and just doing what I wanted to do and not really caring if it caused ripples or not. This is what I had to offer the world. The transition from high school to after high school I literally had no vision for myself. I remember thinking a lot of times that I didn't really know if I was going to survive past eighteen and it wasn’t because I had any self-deprecating thoughts or anything like that. I just could not envision myself in my future or what I really cared about. I was lost and alone and just kind of stuck in the wilderness. I don't know. I was just by myself, kind of scared of what was around the corner and I don't really know at what point things began to click. It didn't all just happen at once. But at some point I had made a decision That I was going to apply at colleges. I had no idea what I was going to go for and A friend brought me to the military because her dad wanted her to check it out. I was just this bobbing thing in the middle of the ocean so I just latched onto anything that came by and was like, “Oh sure I'll go with you.”

Within just a few short months I had gone with my friend to a recruiter and was like, “Yeah sure I can do that.” I didn't really know what that meant or what vision that would create for me. I was also accepted to NDSU I'm so with those two things kind of happening at once, simultaneously in beautiful. It really paved a path out of the wilderness and into society for me. I feel like the path was laid for me and I just had to walk and not Venture off of it at that point. Also in the process I would remind myself that I had the choice to either go on this path that was laid it down or to stay quietly and alone in the wilderness. I'm seriously thankful that I chose to walk that path and into a Plainfield where I found passion and belonging. It was definitely a time in my life where I could very clearly see being in the dark and being isolated and alone and really unworthy until I found that place where light started to shine and I actually got to be who I was and start paying my own road for myself.

K: I love that you so much. Thank you so much for both of you to share and be so vulnerable with all of that. That's a really hard question but like I said I just think that can be so helpful for others to know that we have all had really challenging times in our lives but also to be able to hear how somebody is able to work through that and walk through that and so I really appreciate you guys sharing that. So, the very last question who would you say are your biggest encouragers and why?

E: Hands down Britney is like my number one for sure. She's the person that I go to. Really a part of the reason for that, Kelly, is Britney is the kind of person that is going to give it to me straight. She's so encouraging in her honesty and authenticity and I cannot say how important that is in an adult friendship to have somebody that is going to call you on your shit. That's one of the most profound things that I have found as an adult's in my friendships is that I am going to look for the people that are going to encourage me and support me even when they disagree with me and even when they're going to say, “Come on. Are you for real? Let's think about this differently.” So, hands down Brittney. I cannot even think of anybody above her.

The Second is my husband. He is absolutely going to back me up and love me through everything even when I've gone to Brittany and she is been like, “Come on. You’ve got to think about this differently.” he's going to say, “Nope. I love and support you”. He puts a lot of faith in me even when I feel like maybe he shouldn't. He drives me insane y'all. but I can't imagine not having that Chinese. It's just amazing. And I just have to say as a work environment I can't say enough about our work environment. It is so amazing to work with a group of people we just want to do a good job without it being imposed by Joint Commission or we've got to do this bureaucratic bullshit and it's just a bunch of people who want to do a really good job for the community and are so passionate. That, in itself, is a major encouragement.

K: . I would really agree with that. I believe that. As both of you are talking, your passion shows through. When you talk about Sara, when you talk about whoever it is with the Abound providers, you are so passionate and so supportive and really I think put clients first. That is not always found in agencies - the idea of wanting to put clients first. I think the idea is there a lot but the actual application of it is not. I love that we have that ability and we have that type of environment where we can truly work with a client and figure out what is in the best interest of the client and be able to move forward with that.

Of course, I always throw out this disclaimer within the guidelines of social work but I think it's great to be able to brainstorm ideas that maybe other agencies truly would not be able to do and we can do that. It's nice to have that flexibility and that freedom.

E: Absolutely.

K: Brittany your turn. You're up!

B: So first, Emily, thank you so much for that. You are the sweetest soul in the whole world. I was thinking while Emily was explaining her whole answer to that question that that is a loaded question.

K:I like to give those if you haven’t noticed. (laughing)

B: My follow-up question that I was thinking in my head is at what point in life? I literally have had like pick a time in my life and I could tell you who that is or pick a circumstance and I could tell you who that was. Quite honestly, there have been so many people that have, probably without even knowing, helped me or guided me or encouraged me. I can think all the way back to elementary school those pivotal people in life that had shown me what home could look like or what having disagreements with siblings could look like or what getting grounded could look like. There was a time where I was thinking, “Oh, so that's how a relationship or marriage looks like.” So really, all the way back I have been pulling threads of people from them and influences from them, ways of resolving things, from people that probably don't even know have helped my path more than they could ever even imagine.

That's a really tough question for me. I would say that if we were referring to specific situations like parenting I have a certain group of people that I really highly look to for parenting advice and what that really looks like. I have a really close friends. Her name is Anna, shout-out girlfriend! She really shows me a new way of parenting and what that could look like. And then there's Emily who teaches me how to give Grace to myself and my parenting, prepares me with new ideas of how I could actually tweaked things or do things differently and feel good about it. She has reassured me that I am doing a good job and that I'm not messing my kids up, even when they're being the most independent, temperamental child that I have.

If we're talking about business there have been some that has been the most influential people therapy wise and has really let me do stuff that I didn't believe in myself I could do and has empowered me to do that.

If we're talking about home stuff my husband has been the biggest encourager that I could ever imagine. he was all for me going to school when we had a little tiny baby who was colicky at home and had taken care of the house while I was deployed or on trips. I just feel like I have this miraculous growth of people around me that just step in when I need them so badly and somehow recognized that.

To pick one or to pick one incidents for right now is just so impossible for me to do because there are just these people who are so miraculous that really get me where I'm at and know where I'm at and can help me a totally different times. I'm honestly so excited for everybody that I have around me and also I am appreciative because I do remember the days when I felt like that group of people was not there. the group that I had created I felt unworthy of.

E: It’s community.

K: Yes. It's that connection piece We're all seeking. We all need that. And I love your perspective of pulling little bits and pieces from each person in your life and how really encouraging that is to have everyone who could have made an impact on somebody and not ever known. They could have not had the smallest idea that we've been able to be impactful on their life so I even think in those moments when we are feeling down about ourselves just to remind ourselves of that. My small interactions in the world can have huge impact. well I really appreciate both of you being willing to come on the podcast and talk about that and I definitely see some more episodes in the future. But I'm wondering do you guys have anywhere that you would like to have people contact you if they have any questions or if they're interested in just talking more with you about a certain topic?

E: Yeah, so I’m not sure if you’ve disclosed this before on the podcast. I haven't heard it. I've listen to the podcast, that's not what I mean. You know what I'm saying! How to find us online - you can Google us. You can actually look for abound counseling Fargo providers and a whole list of people will come up and you can reach us that way. I love to talk with people. If they are looking for certain information or they just want some more information about something on a particular topic or if they have questions about their kiddos or their family I need some support I love to talk with people so you can find us that way.

K: I'm really glad that you touched on that because I actually had not. That's fantastic that people will be able to have some access to you guys that way. I think that's great. And I think that it's great that you're willing to just literally have someone call you up and talk about every topic to. That is a really unique service to offer so I definitely appreciate that. Do you guys have any last thoughts before we wrap up here?

B:No but thanks for having us on here!

E: Thank you so much for having us.

K: Absolutely. This was fun! You guys take care!

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