No matter what we do, what we do matters….
Meet Ann Forde Murray. Ann is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in private practice here in Downers Grove, IL. A therapist for more than 22 years, Ann has maintained her own clinical therapy practice in the heart of downtown for over 14 years, helping countless individuals find their resilience and their self-worth.
G: There is a lot going on in the world right now, and mental health is coming to the forefront on many national and global issues these days. Tell me a little bit about how you see things.
A: Like you, I was discouraged and stunned by some of what I am seeing. But I am more hopeful than anything, because I just believe that we are going to grow. That we are destined to seek light and that any challenge that comes can be like that refining fire. It was hard for me to feel discouraged because I am a natural encourager. It’s going to get better but we have to all be a part of that. There’s so much work to be done though.
G: So what you do, in essence, is take a problem and then turn it into a springboard for learning and growth. Is that a natural instinct for you?
A: Probably. I think it is all about growth. I am also a Christian and have faith in God and I just believe that good can come of all things. I absolutely believe that. Even things that people do for harm, I believe God can use for good. Not that I don’t have moments of discouragement or doubt, I have plenty.
G: What are you most proud of having accomplished in your professional career?
A: I love when people get insights into themselves and when they move away from judging themselves. When they get empowered, and move away from shame they unburden. There are so many moments of insight and growth and when they realize they are ok, they are enough, they start to walk a little taller and are more curious about themselves. My work really is all about connecting with people so that they are not alone in this process. I think curiosity is the key to what’s going on for people and figuring things out.
G: Curiosity is interesting. I agree that it’s a good way to approach an issue and is an underrated quality. It seems like a kinder, gentler way to walk through life when you can be unsure and not know but follow a curious thread and just see.
A: Yes! I have a series of Curious George books here in the office and I love them. Curious people make mistakes, and sometimes you can be a little naughty, but then be compassionate with yourself rather than judging. Curiosity about how did I get here, and curiosity about where do I want to go? Because I think we get burdened down by judgement and shame. So I try to connect with people so that they are not in it alone.
G: So you really see that as your role? You give them that gift of being with them without judging and supporting their curious exploration.
A: Yes. For 50 minutes a week, you can talk to me and you don’t have to take care of me. You don’t have to worry about me. You can say what you need to say in a safe place and go on. Because it might be something that is not going to get better any time soon. But connection makes it better.
G: When I was a Clinical Social Worker, I remember feeling like I loved the work. I was so passionate about it. But it can also feel like a job. It can be easy to disconnect to the power of what we do. Do you feel the impact that you are making on a regular basis?
A: I think I do. But not all the time. It comes and goes. When I feel really good and appreciate what I do, I try to harness that. But at the end of the day, it’s like anything you are passionate about. You have to nurture your passion. I believe that even if you aren’t feeling the passion, if you nurture it, it will come back.
G: What keeps you inspired in your work, in your daily living?
A: I try to be mindful of what is happening in the world and how it intersects with the type of work that I do. I try to read clinical things or notice things on social media. That, and finding time every day for prayer and meditation. I always try to quiet myself in the morning and before I come into the office.
G: Do you feel like you get answers to those prayer?
A: There is a felt sense of when you are really connecting. It’s not all the time, but sometimes there is this energetic connection. Sometimes I can get hard on myself and judge myself. I find myself thinking, “This person should really be seeing a counselor”, and then I realize that’s supposed to be me! But then someone will come back and say that there was something I said that really worked for them. Sometimes I feel like it can really be led by God and it’s all working.
For more information about Ann, visit annmurraytherapy.com