Meet Walanda Johnson!
Walanda is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has been a part of the Family Guidance and Therapy team for 8 months. She has a passion for children, families and couples and has spent many of her years as a clinician working with "at risk" youth. Walanda has extensive experience in substance use disorders, depressive and anxiety disorders, oppositional and conduct disorders, attention deficits, and psychosis. 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 Walanda decided to become a clinician, the values that she brings to the FGTC team, and what challenges her on a personal level.
As my instructor informed me in grad school, it is not the role of the therapist to make the journey for their clients, but to guide them to the answers that already lie within themselves. This is what I desire most in working in this field. It is a collaborative work.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a San Diego native and have lived here my entire life. I always knew I wanted to work with children but teaching didn’t seem like the right guy, and after experiencing a great deal of loss in my early adulthood I stumbled into counseling and have been in love ever since. I am a passionate individual who loves to help people find the answers that lie within their hearts.
What inspired you to work as a therapist?
Like I said earlier, I experienced major losses in my 20's and I believe God led me to the field. I stumbled into an office to ask about graduate school and when the administrator talked about the counseling program, I had chills and butterflies. That’s when I knew counseling was for me.
Explain your personal value words and why they are important to you.
There are many values I stand by but some of them self-awareness, growth, authenticity, and truth. I believe all these are needful in helping us to be our best selves and show up in the world as that person.
What is unique about your work with clients?
My awareness is sharp. I am sensitive to feelings that occur in session with clients, and I strive to directly, with kindness, explore those feelings and thoughts in a way that is Socratic without advice giving as I believe answers are within oneself.
What’s the most challenging and rewarding part of your work?
Most challenging is when I am not able to help someone. Most rewarding is when clients allow me to be a part of their journey. It’s an honor when someone shares their soul.
After a long work week, how do you de-stress or unwind?
I sleep, exercise, fill my bucket spending time with the people I love. I pray and meditate.
Tell us a funny story about yourself!
I don’t know if this is funny. Looking back now it is. When I was in high school I got the chickenpox for the first time which one can imagine is traumatic for a 15yo girl. Anyway, that weekend my drill team also was selected to perform during an NBA halftime game. I didn’t know I was chickenpox sick. I messed up the entire routine on air...in front of thousands of people, depending on who watched. More embarrassing than funny but that’s what came to mind.