Welcome Our New Mental Health Counselor, Daniela Baumgarthuber

We are thrilled to welcome Daniela Baumgarthuber to our team of mental health counselors in our Counseling & Addiction Services program! Read on to learn about her experience, interests, and approach to counseling.

You previously worked with our Supportive Living Services program here at JFS, supporting people with cognitive disabilities and persistent mental health issues. What excites you about your new role as a Mental Health Counselor in our Counseling program?

I started with Jewish Family Service in the Supportive Living Services program in 2015 as a second-year MSW intern through the University of Washington School of Social Work. After graduating in 2016, I was hired on as a case manager with the department and got to continue working with the team and clients.

It has always been my career goal to become a mental health counselor, and in 2020, I became fully licensed as an Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). As soon as I became fully licensed, I joined a group private practice and provided individual therapy to adults 18+ while continuing to work as a case manager at Jewish Family Service.

When a mental health counselor position opened up in the JFS Counseling & Addiction Services department, I was excited to apply and be offered the position. What excites me most about working as a mental health counselor at Jewish Family Service is that the department focuses on serving individuals from vulnerable communities impacted by trauma using a social justice lens.

I also appreciate how close-knit the team is and how everyone supports each other’s personal and professional growth. I have witnessed and been part of the great work that JFS does serving the community, and I am delighted to be able to continue to grow my career here!

What will your role as Mental Health Counselor involve?
In my role as a Mental Health Counselor with the Counseling & Addiction Services department, I will provide individual therapy to folks experiencing a wide range of challenges, including trauma, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, grief and loss, and more.

I will have the opportunity to be trained in a number of different evidence-based treatments for trauma and expand my toolkit of treatment modalities to work with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Additionally, I will be able to develop and facilitate therapy groups with other counselors.

What is unique about your approach to mental health counseling?
Because my background is in social work, and since I spent many years working as a case manager here at Jewish Family Service, I like to take a holistic lens to therapy. That means I look at the client and their different environments to better understand how micro (individual and interpersonal), mezzo (communities and organizations), and macro (societal and governmental) factors influence their functioning.

I also use anti-oppression approaches in my work to help clients better understand how their lives are impacted by oppression as a result of their social identities and help them to feel more empowered and connected through advocacy.

What can new clients expect during a session with you?
I often come across as quirky and warm and use humor when appropriate. I want clients to feel comfortable bringing their whole selves into therapy sessions. When working with clients, my approach is collaborative, client-centered, and strengths-based. I like to check in with clients regularly to ensure they feel like we are meeting their needs and goals together.

What is one thing we can all do to improve our mental health – especially during the winter?
Winters in Seattle can be brutal, especially when they are accompanied by few daylight hours, endless gray skies, and countless rainy days. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), aka “the winter blues,” is a real condition that impacts millions of Americans each year.

What can be helpful in mitigating symptoms of SAD is to stay connected with friends and family as much as possible, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy diet, and use a light therapy box with your doctor’s approval. On those rare days when it is sunny, get outside and enjoy those rays of sunshine. If you notice that your mental health continues to suffer, don’t be afraid to reach out for professional support from a mental health counselor and/or prescriber.

What do you like doing in your spare time?
I feel so privileged that I get to live in the scenic Pacific Northwest. During my free time, I love hiking and enjoying the outdoors, attending yoga classes, exploring the city, hanging out with friends and coworkers, and going to concerts.

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