Read a short interview below to learn a bit more about our new CCIH Staff member, Michelle Horner!
What initially got you interested in therapy?
In my undergraduate studies, I was drawn to both the fields of psychology and criminal justice with limited understanding of how I could make sense of these two interests. A criminal justice professor of mine would frequently use the adage “hurt people, hurt people.” This compassionate interpretation of human suffering and violence deeply resonated and intrigued me.
Eventually, I found myself pursuing graduate studies in clinical forensic psychology, still with a limited understanding about how I wanted to apply these two areas of study. A study abroad trip to Zambia introduced me to the connections between systemic and institutional policies and the perpetuation of trauma which was further illuminated by my training experiences in juvenile and adult correctional settings. The prevalence of trauma and systemic oppression experienced by these individuals quickly shaped my understanding of the trajectory of my career. The underlying thread across my training and early career pursuits has been to understand the complexity of the human adaptation to trauma.
My choice to go into therapeutic work was multi-layered, but I firmly believe that one of the driving forces has been my witness to the incredible power of the healing process. I feel a tremendous honor when people allow me to bear witness to and help hold the intensity of the suffering from their experiences. My goals are to help people begin to develop compassion for and a sense of power and agency to reclaim their mind and body from the experiences of trauma to increase their capacity for energy and positive experiences.
Many of the people I work alongside with ask me about my capacity to hear about their experiences and suffering. My response is that I have the resources and support that I need in order to be present for and engaged in the work that I do, along with the hope that I hold for their healing. One of the areas of support I need is a strong network of professionals that share my passion, knowledge, and respect for this area of work. The supportive nature and collaborative approach fostered within the CCIH team and focus on the treatment of complex trauma and dissociative disorders was vitally important to my decision to choose CCIH when relocating to Chicago.
What do you like to do when you are not in session?
After leaving Chicago to live and train on the east and west coasts for three years, I’m enjoying exploring both familiar and new parts of Chicago and the surrounding areas. One of my favorite ways to explore is through viewing street murals and trying new food and restaurants. I am also a big fan of attending live performances and experiencing the different types of energies that are evoked in the audience and within myself. Whether attending concerts, poetry sessions, comedy shows, or sports games, I find the capacity for creativity, self-expression, and perseverance in these acts to be remarkable. When looking for more solace, I also enjoy camping, kayaking, and hiking. Despite these varied interests, I value spending the majority of my time playing, taking walks, and talking with my partner and our two dogs.