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Meet Jennifer Stinson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Stinson.

Jennifer, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I have been working in the field of mental health for about 25 years now.  When I was in college earning my Bachelor’s degree, I worked as a research assistant, collecting data on how people experience intense emotions like shame.  I also worked in a family trauma center, supervising activities for kids while their parents attended therapy groups.  After earning my doctorate degree in psychology, I pursued jobs where I could spend my days providing mental health services. Over the years, I’ve worked in residential facilities, community mental health clinics, and private practice. I’ve conducted therapy sessions in homes, schools and clinical offices. My goal has always been to help people adapt and cope with difficult experiences so that they can lead rich and fulfilling lives and contribute to a healthy society.

Through the twists and turns of my life, including becoming a mother, growing older, and facing personal challenges, my ideas about how to promote mental health have evolved and become more holistic. I used to think being a psychologist was a job I could do. And now I think of it as a lifestyle I must live. I don’t ask my clients to do things that I don’t do myself. I meditate, exercise, try to get enough sleep, spend time with friends, and use humor to offset the rough parts of life. I try to be the best mom I can be because I want to contribute to a new generation of resilient, mentally healthy people. And I have published two books, “The Inappropriate Baby Book” and “Even Fairies Fart” which playfully address topics like transitioning to parenthood and dealing with social comparisons. People often quote Ghandi saying, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” That is how I feel about promoting mental health. It extends beyond my office job. It is something I try to embody in all aspects of my life.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There is still a lot of stigma and misunderstanding in our culture about mental health and therapy. I felt it myself the first time I went to therapy many years ago. I felt as if I shouldn’t need help. It was uncomfortable for me to feel vulnerable. But everyone has struggles and challenges. Humans are social creatures, and we all go through periods where we need to feel valued, cared for and understood by someone else. There is nothing wrong with that.

I have come to believe that the most loving thing you can do for your family and friends is to take good care of yourself, both mentally and physically. Taking care of myself allows me to be present for my family and my clients. It helps me to stay engaged in an emotionally-demanding job without getting burnt out.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I work in a therapy group with several other colleagues. Our group is called Soultenders. We provide therapy services to people all over the San Gabriel Valley and the greater Los Angeles area. I specialize in working with people who are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or difficulty adjusting to a major life transitions. Our group is unique because we take many forms of health insurance, so our services are accessible to people who might not be able to afford to pay out of pocket for therapy.

I am proud of my work as a therapist, and I am also proud of my work as an author. My books, “The Inappropriate Baby Book” and “Even Fairies Fart” are available at bookstores like Vroman’s and on Amazon. “The Inappropriate Baby Book” is a funny gift for new parents. I did the illustrations for this book as well as the writing. “Even Fairies Fart” is a children’s book that pokes fun at the fact that we all make mistakes and do embarrassing things. No one is perfect. I think this message is especially important for kids growing up with social media and pressures to project certain images.

What were you like growing up?
I grew up in Alaska in the 1980’s. My parents divorced when I was young, and I moved around quite a bit, changing school often. Looking back, I think what first attracted me to the field of psychology was a desire to understand people and figure out where I fit in. I was a creative kid, an observer of others, and a bit of an introvert. I liked drawing, writing and dancing. I spent a lot of time outdoors, playing in the woods or the snow or flying with my dad in his small plane.

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