Member Spotlight – April 2022
April’s GAMFT Member Spotlight is Vaishali Jordan, LMFT. Read on below to learn more about another one of our interesting members who is doing great work in our state!
I knew I wanted to be some sort of counselor. I was always the person people came to talk to. I really enjoyed that because being Indian, born in India, throughout my school life, I was not allowed to date, go to birthday parties, go to friend’s homes. People would come talk to me about their problems and it was my way of connecting to people. I grew up in a very conservative Indian family that was very traditional, and my parents did not want me to be Americanized. I experienced very strict house rules. Growing up in the San Francisco area and then in the south, I experienced a unique kind of homelessness and racism. This feeling of homelessness came from not feeling a part of my family’s culture, or the culture I was in every day. I felt that I did not into either culture. I found that I was able to connect to this part of me, my childhood traumas, when I worked with an Indian family for the first time who did not speak English that was dealing with a domestic violence case not long ago. It was eye opening to me to help this family who has never heard of a therapist and doesn’t know what therapy is. I realized after the work that I did with the family how much I still feel this sense of homelessness, this difficulty of fitting in to the culture that I came from and that I am part of now. And I got to thinking more about that under-served population, my culture and others, who don’t know they can seek help or how.
So even though I knew I wanted to be come sort of counselor, it isn’t where my story begins. I went to Mississippi State for a semester before getting married and having kids, and I didn’t go back until my oldest was in high school. I attended Macon State for a public service degree, and I was working at the time as a patient representative at Navicent Medical Center. I loved my job. I thought I was going to keep that degree… and then life happened. I found myself going through struggles in my personal life and thought it was best to pursue my Masters degree then instead of waiting to be busier and meet my goals. During my education at Mercer, I was able to use research from a class to show the hospital how using therapeutic services can impact readmission rate. I thought that this was all leading me to a career as a therapist in the hospital, but then I began contract work.
I eventually went full time as a contractor where I was able to really work with my passion. I remarried around this time and my wonderfully supportive husband encouraged me to open my own contracting agency. So I did it! I now work with domestic violence, trauma assessment, substance abuse, court-ordered cases and many more. I enjoy speaking at events at Mercer to the students and explain what MFT’s can do besides private practice, traditional therapy.
I do see a few people now privately doing traditional therapy, but I really enjoy the work I do within the community, within the clients’ homes. It is so challenging in a unique way because it really makes you step outside your comfort zone to go into people’s homes. It can be really difficult to go into peoples’ homes because of the various environments that you can find yourself in; and there can be safety concerns. Within my agency, we work with many abuse cases, and I like the challenge of seeing a client that doesn’t trust anyone, the system, therapists, anyone. Because then I can see where I earn that trust. I like being able to show them that I can listen to them without judging them and help them find a way out of what they are in.
The people that I work with can be people that others don’t believe have the right to change because of some of the things they’ve done. I see a person that still deserves help. I have worked with individuals who have abused others and hurt others, and it is very difficult sometimes. But I challenge myself to constantly believe that they have the right to make a change and improve their lives. I connect with the tragedy and trauma in my life that has left me feeling at times that I wasn’t worth it to connect with other people who might feel that way.
So I thought the medical field was where I belonged and where I could make the most impact. I was totally invested. My passion though, was working within the field I am in now. I find that we need more experienced, licensed, effective therapists who are willing to work within this field where the individuals don’t come to you like they do in private practice, but are required to see you, or are sent to you because of their situation. Earning trust with someone like this is very different from earning trust with an individual in private practice. It’s so rewarding when I am a part of helping someone see their potential. I really believe that there is so much more MFT’s can do than private practice. You can bring a therapy approach into so many different fields that we don’t consider. Even within my community work, I am a mediator, a supporter, a therapist, a witness… We have so many roles that we can take on if we just broaden our scope beyond the traditional work that we’ve done so far.