Meet Katherine Frerich!
Congratulations to Katherine who just finished her training to become the newest RDI certified consultant! She has been a part of the Family Guidance and Therapy team for 2.5 years and works as our Director of Communications. She has a passion for children and their families and is driven to show them that life-changing therapy is possible. At the Family Guidance and Therapy Center, each team member works from a set of personal values that drive client care. In the interview below, learn why Katherine decided to become a clinician, the values that she brings to the FGTC team, and what challenges her on a personal level.
The most challenging part of this work I do is changing the mindset that RDI is like nothing else you have ever tried. The most rewarding part of this work is seeing a parent have an "ah ha" moment, then they finally get it.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I have been with my husband for 31 years and we have a 15 year old daughter. I am originally from Las Vegas, Nevada and we moved to San Diego 9 years ago. I am a molecular oncology specialist that works in breast cancer. I am a huge advocate of women's health.
What inspired you to work as a therapist?
My daughter was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism when she was 2 years and 9 months old. We immediately started standard care therapy receiving 36 hours a week of intervention for an entire year. My daughter had no language, so I never knew what she knew but through this therapy we discovered that she could memorize and learn things. What it also showed us was that this therapy didn't make her more "human". You may wonder what does that mean, human to me means being able to connect and make relationships with others. My daughter was not able to do that, she remained by herself, to herself and confined to our home.
I heard of a therapy/intervention called RDI (Relationship Development Intervention) here in San Diego. I flew here to go to the 4-day seminar and learned more about this intervention. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, is there really a therapy that addresses the core deficits of autism? Is it possible to teach a kid like my daughter to think for herself versus just memorize stuff? Well the answer to that is yes! I started RDI therapy with my daughter 12 years ago, it changed our lives. When I realized how much I learned, what I learned through the teaching of my daughter Niesla. I wanted to get RDI certified. I wanted the opportunity to show parents that it is possible...
Explain your personal value words and why they are important to you.
Respect: I think that it is so important to respect kids with autism, respect families and their dynamics and values. It doesn't have to be your own values just that you respect every individual.
Real: I want everyone to be real and true. I want "real" connections and real life. Pretending to be like everyone else is not living your real life.
Community: Isolation and not putting yourself out there is not conductive to a happy successful life (success is how you define it). I believe that community makes you have purpose, accountability and acceptance. It is having people who can accept and relate to your existence. My community has helped me have a "go to" family that makes me feel like I am not alone in my journey. I want everyone to find their community and I make it a priority to help others connect.
What is unique about your work with clients?
My experience as a parent with a kid with autism. (Look at the answer from question, What inspired you to work as a therapist?)
What’s the most challenging and rewarding part of your work?
The most challenging part of this work I do is changing the mindset. RDI is like nothing else you have ever tried. It will feel strange and uncomfortable, but all those things will add up to a kid that can think for themselves. The most rewarding part of this work is seeing a parent have an "ah ha" moment, then they finally get it.
After a long work week, how do you de-stress or unwind?
All my weeks are very long and intense, but Friday is our family's favorite day. We all come home and have Happy Hour, which is a glass of wine (no wine for our daughter) with a great charcuterie board. I hug and kiss on my husband and my daughter and we all get to what we call "lay like broccoli" (that term is from Pretty Woman which means veg out). We also love going to the beach on Saturday to walk and hang out.
Tell us a funny story about yourself!
When I was dating my boyfriend, who is now my husband, he came to my rescue. I am deathly afraid of roaches and I was home alone when I saw one run out to the living room. I started screaming and yelling like I was being murdered. I then ran and grabbed the only thing I could find which was oven cleaner and began to spray the roach with it. I sprayed it until it was a mountain of white foam. I then watched to make sure that it was dead, but it started climbing out of the white foam. That's when I started screaming again and ran to the kitchen and stood on two kitchen table chairs. I used them as stilts and walked over to the phone which was attached to the wall. I called my boyfriend crying and freaking out about what had just happened. He said that he would drive over and kill it. He lived 40 minutes away from me. I literally stood on the chairs until he arrived at my house and killed the roach. I was a hot sweaty terrified mess, but he saved me.
Wow Kat. And to think I used to love catching roaches in my classroom and freezing them to scare my students. What a hilarious story!!! I could do some Roach-handling therapy with you to get over your fears 😉
Your crazy friend – Dorene