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Meet Anne Russey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anne Russey.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Anne. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’ve always had a heart for helping and an ear for listening. I volunteered on a peer counseling helpline in college (at Texas A&M- whoop!), have informally counseled many friends and family members over the years and feel so much joy and satisfaction getting to help my clients grow into the best versions of themselves through the work we do together in my role now as a professional counselor.

I’m grateful for the opportunities I had during the first seven years of my career serving primarily Houston’s LGBTQ+ and HIV+ populations. Through my role as a clinical case manager and non-profit program coordinator, I developed and grew as a counselor alongside and under the supervision of some of the most dedicated and skilled clinicians and leaders in our community, and had the privilege of working with some of the bravest and most resilient clients facing sometimes impossible circumstances. Growing as a clinician in this setting allowed me to learn that I could work well with clients from all different walks of life, often very different from myself. Working with diverse client populations allowed me to become more aware of the privileges I’ve had in my life (many of which are not earned but rather a byproduct of being a white, cisgender, heterosexual person), strengthened my belief in every human beings’ inherent worth and goodness and strengthened my resolve to fight and advocate for those who our society and culture often try to oppress.

The work I did in the non-profit setting taught me how to be creative, compassionate, resourceful and eternally optimistic even in the midst of limited resources and sometimes chaotic and unpredictable circumstances. I learned from my clinical supervisor how to skillfully and appropriately help my clients process and heal from the things causing them emotional pain like trauma, addiction and mental illness. I learned from another supervisor that sometimes you just have to show up, jump into the trench alongside your client and help them come up with a plan to find their way out. I learned that it’s okay not to have all the answers and that there are no magic wands in counseling.

Those lessons laid the foundation on which I built Anne Russey Counseling.

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?
Unfortunately, seven years of throwing myself into the work I was doing in the community mental health setting, three years of motherhood induced sleep deprivation and a refusal to prioritize self-care led to a severe case of compassion fatigue, exhaustion and burn out. In September of 2017, I made a really difficult decision to step away from my career as a non-profit program manager and entered into a season of figuring out what I actually wanted out of my life, both personally and professionally. I felt like I was letting everyone around me down but knew in my heart that it was the best decision to make for myself and my family and that in the long run the agency would be better served by someone who could offer them the dedication and energy they deserved.

I was fortunate to find a soft place to land with a fantastic group counseling practice where I was able to focus solely on counseling my clients, and not worry about any extra responsibilities. The pace of my life finally felt slower and much more manageable. I had more control over my schedule and the number of hours I was working away from my family and began to implement self-care back into my life. I realized, to my surprise, that when I wasn’t feeling incredibly overwhelmed, burnt out and jaded, I was still pretty good at sitting with people in their pain and helping them find their way out of it.

After my year of reset and my family deciding to make the move from Houston to Katy, I felt the pull to begin building my own counseling practice.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I opened Anne Russey Counseling in October of 2018 with the goal of providing affirming, supportive and specialized counseling for LGBTQ+ adults and new moms (and dads) wanting counseling for postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety or other concerns related to perinatal mental health. My office is located in Katy, Texas but I’m able to work with anyone within the state of Texas through online counseling. Online counseling has opened the door for clients to work with me that might live across town, prefer not to hire a sitter or have to bring children to session or just prefer to have their therapy appointment within the comfort of their own home.

Some of my LGBTQ+ clients seek me out to address concerns specific to being an LGBTQ+ person like sexual orientation or gender identity exploration, coming out or gender dysphoria, while many come in for counseling for anxiety, depression or work-related stress. I find many of my LGBTQ+ clients choose to work with me because they know I am an affirming and competent counselor who is not going to pathologize or blame their sexual orientation or gender identity for whatever issues they’re wanting to address.

The clients who come to me to address concerns related to parenthood are sometimes battling symptoms of postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety or feeling overwhelmed by the stress of parenthood and wanting to regain a sense of control over their lives. I love helping new moms (and dads) figure out who they are in the context of their new role as a parent. When working with parents, there tends to be a lot of questioning of previously held expectations, beliefs and priorities that can create tension, discomfort, anxiety and sometimes panic. We identify and implement tools and strategies that help them feel more equipped to handle the transition and stress they’re under.

My clients are smart, capable and kind. They are problem solvers in most areas of their life, often perfectionists and have usually tried everything they can think of on their own before finally reaching out for counseling. I don’t believe in the “blank slate” approach to therapy that frankly can feel like you’re talking to a brick wall. I believe in helping my clients feel safe, comfortable and supported and believe in bringing my full self to my work. Some of my clients ask me about my personal life and family and I answer them honestly. Others don’t really do that so much and that’s fine too. A counseling session should never feel like it’s more about the therapist than the client, but I also don’t think it needs to feel like your therapist is some mysterious shell of a person or some kind of all-knowing being who has it all figured out. We talk about the past, but usually in the context of how it’s affecting the present. I tend to take an active approach to counseling, helping my client’s problem solve, brainstorm and implement effective coping skills and strategies that move them towards the outcomes they desire.

What were you like growing up?
My parents would both say I’ve always been a “feeler.” I’ve been an empath from the start. My mom has told stories about how I would be the kid on the soccer field trying to help the other team score. My interests have always revolved around serving people in some capacity. I grew up as a rule follower and strived to be the teacher’s pet. While I think those characteristics helped me make friends and kept me out of trouble as a kid, I also think they led me to be kind of a pushover and probably contributed to some of the things I’ve struggled with as an adult.

Fortunately counseling training programs and working in community mental health settings are great places to learn to set boundaries and become more assertive. I still don’t love conflict and tend to worry a lot about trying please everybody, but I no longer do it at the cost of myself or the values and priorities I hold (most of the time). It turns out these are characteristics and challenges I see reflected in many of the clients I work with. My own experiences, paired with my training as a professional counselor allow me unique insight into the struggles of other empaths and people pleasers. Through counseling, I help them learn how to stand up for themselves and assert their needs in ways that are in line with their values, the relationships they want to have and the type of lives they want to live.

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Anne Russey

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