Meet Samantha Alexander!
Samantha is a board certified behavior analyst who has been a part of the Family Guidance and Therapy since August 2016. Samantha enjoys working with children and families in multiple capacities. 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 Samantha decided to become a therapist, the values that she brings to the FGTC team, and what challenges her on a personal level.
I've always felt that as the professional I needed to be in the passenger seat. I believe that parents have to be at the wheel when it comes to intervention. I am available to provide guidance, support, ideas and expertise but I can't decide where we are going. I start my work with parent empowerment so they feel competent and ready to lead because while I may know autism they know their child.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm from rural North Carolina so am the quintessential transplant who ran from my little town with hopes of taking on the city (although that was a really long time ago!) These days I'm the wife of a wonderful deployed active duty sailor, mom to a rambunctious 2 year old with special needs, dog mom to the sweetest geriatric pup, best friend, sister and social justice warrior. I start my days early and collapse into bed every night feeling like I conquered the world.
What inspired you to work as a therapist?
I've always enjoyed working with children and families and have had great opportunities to work with them in multiple capacities through the years. My first job was as a junior camp counselor when I was in high school. I had a supervisor that told me to "always hug the kids who rush up to you in the hallways.You don't know the last time they were hugged and kids need hugs."
I work with kids and families because that was the first time I realized that there were kids who didn't get hugged and that I could provide that hug.
Explain your personal value words and why they are important to you.
There are so many guiding principles in my life. I do my best to acknowledge, affirm, respect and celebrate the differences and commonalities between myself and the many people of the world. I believe my value words were Diversity, Flexibility and Empathy because they best encompassed my dedication to creating a better more inclusive community that is responsive to the needs of all.
What is unique about your work with clients?
More recently, I find that my role as a mom to a special needs toddler also makes my work unique. My ability to empathize and take the time to really listen has truly expanded as I have been put in the role of therapy mom and professional. I have skin in the game and that changes your perspective - for the better!
What’s the most challenging and rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding part by far is getting a front row seat to the growth, development and maturation of some amazing people. Typically, we only get a chance to really see our own kids grow and change but through my work I really have an amazing opportunity to be part of so many unique and impressive journeys.
After a long work week, how do you de-stress or unwind?
If it's been really long week I call in reinforcements! My sister or a friend for a little empowerment and relaxation. They may settle in with me for a Netflix, tea and conversation or just stand beside me while I wash a weeks worth of dishes. I love spending time with the people I love no matter what we do.
Tell us a funny story about yourself!
I majored in Anthropology in undergrad because I love cultures and people. I took a summer internship in Costa Rica on an archaeological dig where we learned to uncover pottery. One morning while we were digging my leg started to itch - so I scratched it and realized there was something in my pants leg. I was so scared that I ended up taking off my pants on the spot and screaming hysterically and shook a HUGE (think small rat size) beetle out of my pants leg. Needless to say I was horrified. I promptly abandoned my plan to go into anthropology and made sure I had adequate credits for a dual degree in psychology that following semester. The only picture to remember the incident is from one of the other students old digital cameras, it's grainy and shows me standing in a mud pit with no pants and my mouth wide open.