Choosing the Path of Healing: Exploring some Personal Journeys Behind Mental Health Advocacy

By Jacob Wallin, Elizabeth Young, and Maggie Perion, Master Level Clinical Interns

With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, Owens Counseling newest two interns were asked the question: What brought you to this field to advocate for mental health & help people in the journey of change & growth? Below are their responses!


Ah, the classic childhood question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Like many kids, I enthusiastically declared that I was destined for the NFL. As children, we often dream of pursuing careers that align with what we perceive as ‘fun’ or ‘awesome’ at that moment.

But life has a funny way of throwing curveballs, doesn’t it? Around the age of 10 or 11, while hanging out with my great-grandmother, she proclaimed that my purpose on this planet was to help others. She even jokingly proposed that I should become her therapist when I grew up. I eagerly exclaimed, “Of course!” in the moment, but looking back now, I can’t help but chuckle at the potential ethical conundrum that would have been!

Now, let me tell you, that conversation was a game-changer. Suddenly, I found myself contemplating a more realistic career path—one that resonated with my newfound sense of purpose. They say if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life, and I was captivated by that thought.

With this seed of inspiration planted firmly in my mind, my journey took an unexpected turn. No longer fixated solely on NFL glory, I began to explore avenues that aligned with my passion for making a difference in people’s lives. It was as if a light had been switched on, illuminating a path towards a meaningful career.

Embracing the belief that personal growth and change are constants in life, I found myself drawn to the role of guiding others on their own journeys. Each person’s story is unique, a tapestry woven with both triumphs and tribulations. And I realized that I wanted to be a part of that narrative—to lend a helping hand, offer support, and witness the beauty of transformation.

So, here I am, far from the football fields of my childhood dreams but infinitely grateful for the winding path that led me here. From NFL aspirations to the fulfilling realm of mental health advocacy, my journey may have been unconventional, but it’s one I wouldn’t trade for anything.


As an advanced practitioner clinical pharmacist, I have worked closely in the medical model of psychiatric interventions and drugs as a specialty for many years and as a certified health and wellness coach. While I have been trained extensively in medication management of psychopharmacology, I have always had to work closely with mental health practitioners be they psychiatric nurses or counselors and therapists. I have witnessed over the years the increasing need for counselors and those trained to work with addictions, especially through the opioid crisis we have been challenged with. In my work, I yearned to play a bigger role in helping clients be healthy and well and live their best lives. During COVID-19, I realized I could no longer wait to make this possible due to the increasing need for mental health clinicians in our communities.

So, I made a conscious and intentional plan to return to graduate school to earn my master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling and obtain the credentials I needed to expand my healthcare provider role. I was incredibly fortunate to be chosen for an internship with the Owens Counseling team. This experience is preparing me well to become an associate counselor with a private practice, which is my goal. I am adopting an eclectic, integrative, and person-centered style of counseling which allows me to bring the best of a variety of interventions to address the unique concerns of my clients, expertly and professionally networking with their entire healthcare team, and provide my clients with an empathetic and validating counseling experience.


I became interested in the counseling field after positive experiences receiving counseling myself! Having therapists who have helped me learn, overcome, and persevere inspired me to want to be able to give back and do the same for others. Additionally, my background as a high school teacher eventually led to my interest in pursuing counseling. In the classroom, I enjoyed developing relationships with students and contributing to and witnessing their growth and I wanted to pursue a new opportunity where I could continue to empower others!

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