My Journey into Private Practice………..

July 22, 2010

Here is an article that I wrote for an upcoming graduate school newsletter addressing my own journey into starting my own private practice.  Please feel free to read, share with others and enjoy!

Post adoption and attachment therapy has long been a focus for adoptees and their families but has somehow remained a mystery to the general public. I am really pleased to see that our society is opening up to the former social taboos of adoption and taking an interest in the highs and lows of the post adoption process. Recent headlines whether it be a celebrity such as Brad Pitt or Sandra Bullock adopting or the latest scandal of the 7-year-old Russian boy who was sent back on an airplane by his adoptive mother has opened up a progressive opportunity to bring both mystery and myth to the forefront and to explore the so called “sleeper” effects of multi-cultural, multi-national and blended families of all kinds. My hope is that through my own work at life INSIGHTS and the work of many others, there can continue to be an abundance of resources and support for the adopted community.

I, myself was adopted from Seoul, Korea at three months old. Growing up in Deephaven, Minnesota I remember all of the high and lows that I experienced in both family and peer settings. Never looking like those around me and yet feeling so completely a part of the family that I lived with day in and day out. To me, my parents were my parents, although as my peers began to ask more direct and sometimes bordering on rude questions I have to say that it would shake me from time to time.  I looked like one culture and yet felt at home in another. I tried the Korean culture camps in my area but felt as though I didn’t want to wear both cultures. Looking back it was almost as if trying to balance the two at such a young age meant nothing more to me at the time than belonging to neither.   Childhood was a confusing time for my identity and yet I enjoyed making new friends, exploring an abundance of activities and trips with my family and excelling at school and sports.  Adoption wasn’t a debilitating experience in the least but there were very few resources and even fewer human contacts for myself or my family to lean on, ask questions to or learn from.

I traveled back to Seoul in the summer of 2005. My family and I entered into a life altering experience for two weeks and I know now that I will never be the same again. The orphanages and the birth mother homes were beyond anything I could have ever wrapped my head around. Not only was it inspiring and heartbreaking but for the first time I was able to see what my own journey must have looked like. I watched foster mothers say good-bye to their foster children who were being blessed and sent to America to meet their new families.  I could go on and on but it was just one awe inspiring event after another.

When I returned home I knew that somehow I had been given the opportunity to see and experience all that I had for a reason.  It would take me two more years to finally couple both my passion for psychology and children with what was under my nose the whole time.  I wanted to open a private practice specializing in post adoption and attachment therapy. Some might say I put the cart before the horse but looking back it was a real blessing for me to have such a passionate purpose throughout my two years at Adler Graduate School.  I knew the Adler Graduate School was the place for me when I sat down with Ev Haas for the first time and she immediately recognized my last name. It turns out not only did she have a pretty awesome and powerful past with my mother but my parents and I actually spent my first Christmas with her and a bunch of other “Minnesota Transplants” as she called the group. All of these crazy people who were braving the cold blizzards of Minnesota and all with a common goal of celebrating the holidays and trying to stay as warm as possible!

This story was so fitting for what I was looking for in a school mentality. I like to describe my experience at Adler Graduate School as everyone coming together from their own personal version of “somewhere” with a goal of going out into the world to spread the message of encouragement and hope. That is exactly what I wanted to do for adoptees and their families. I knew that there was a population that had the same questions, concerns and conflicts as I had experienced in my own life.

After I graduated from Adler in July of 2009 I knew that it was finally time to put up my sign and see if there were going to be any families out there who thought my services would be of value.  It was one thing to hypothetically pump myself up and say that opening a practice was a great idea and that post adoption and attachment therapy was a valuable niche but it was another thing to hang up an actual sign and wait for potential clients. I had some amazing mentors and very supportive and enthusiastic friends and family that helped me spread the word and set up marketing materials. I began speaking on adoption panels and networking with local educators, physicians and other therapists in the community.  It was a whirlwind of activity and as I became a more visual face in the community the word did literally start to spread like wildfire! Parents wanted support groups and groups for their kids, school social workers wanted school groups during certain hours of the day. Parents brought their children and their spouses and the word caught on that there was this post adoption and attachment specialist in the area  who was actually….gasp….adopted herself!

It has been such a gift to be able to build a career in such a meaningful and close to my heart specialty. When I think back to the beginning of graduate school, I feel so blessed to have had a purpose from the moment I stepped foot into the Adler School parking lot. People ask me if it was scary opening a practice and if I knew right away that I would be successful or not. The answer is of course it was scary and as I like to call it, a calculated risk. I had no way of knowing how successful the endeavor would be.  However, the experiences in my own life really led me down this path and set many of the amazing pieces of this journey in motion all by themselves. I live as an adoptee ever day of my own life and helping others walk through the similar and yet different path that I began 28 years ago is such a gift for me.  What I am learning is that the experiences and steps that we take in our lives are as every much choosing you as you are choosing them. life INSIGHTS in all its glory really is a choice that found me.

For more information on life INSIGHTS and Kara E. Priesmeyer, MA please visit her website at http://www.lifeinsightsmn.com

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