Meet Julie O'Hara!
Julie is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has been a part of the Family Guidance and Therapy team for 1 and a 1/2 years. Julie has experience working with couples looking to improve their communication, increase connection and intimacy, reduce conflict, and who are adapting to various life stages such as dating, preparing for marriage, growing families, divorce, and launching. She is currently working with children and adolescents diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and is being trained in Relationship Development Intervention (RDI). Using an RDI lens. At the Family Guidance and Therapy Center of Southern California, each team member works from a set of personal values that drive client care. In the interview below, learn why Julie decided to become a clinician, the values that she brings to the FGTC team, and what challenges her on a personal level.
The most rewarding part of my work is when a client proudly shares about an experience that demonstrates their hard work and that they have achieved their therapeutic goal. While this moment may not be traceable back to one particular change in behavior or moment of insight, I can be confident that the hard work they have put into therapy has helped them achieve their goal.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in San Diego and I hope to stay here forever! I enjoy spending time with friends and laughing as much as possible. I love to be outside and in the sun as much a possible, whether I'm hiking, kayaking or taking my fur baby on a walk around the neighborhood.
What inspired you to work as a therapist?
I have always enjoyed being the person that my friends felt comfortable talking to about anything and I believe it is so important to have someone in your life who you can share even the most challenging experiences with. I began my journey toward becoming a therapist with the hope that I could be this person for people who didn't feel as if they had someone in their life to process their emotions with. I quickly learned that therapy is so much more that simply chatting about feelings and I also learned that I have so much more to offer than simply listening, although that is an important piece.
Explain your personal value words and why they
are important to you.
I would have to say that connection and gratitude are the most prominent value words for myself. I believe that connection is underlying everything we do and feel. The connection I feel with others significantly influences my mood and plays an important role in how I experience life. Gratitude is also an important value of mine because I feel that when I have gratitude I am being the person I want to be. When I am grateful for the people, places, and experiences in my life I get to fully enjoy all that I have in this life.
What is unique about your work with clients?
My work with clients is unique because I create a comfortable and inviting environment within each session that allows clients to feel as if they are simply chatting with a close friend. Within this environment, I use evidence based theory to highlight client strengths and increase hope as they work toward achieving their goals.
What’s the most challenging and rewarding part of your work?
The most challenging part of my work is the ambiguity. As someone who appreciates structure and precision, I am constantly challenged by the lack of clear and concrete results within the therapeutic setting. However, the most rewarding part of my work is when a client proudly shares about an experience that demonstrates their hard work and that they have achieved their therapeutic goal. While this moment may not be traceable back to one particular change in behavior or moment of insight, I can be confident that the hard work they have put into therapy has helped them achieve their goal.
After a long work week, how do you de-stress or unwind?
I de-stress by spending time with my husband and dog. I love to explore San Diego through trying different restaurants and getting outside as much as possible. Also, there is nothing a mocha freeze and churro from Costco can't fix!
Tell us a funny story about yourself!
In high school I attended a conference with the associated student bodies from each high school in the district. Each of the student body presidents was pulled on stage to compete in a competition to see who could "get the crowd going" the best without any time to plan. My reaction was to begin beat boxing and rapping while inviting the crowd to repeat after me. Although I can't help but laugh as I look back at the performance, my novice beat boxing skills won me the competition.