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Mental Health Blog

Therapist in Wilbraham MA: Megan Russis, LICSW

Interview with

August 23, 2022

Megan Russis, LICSW with Handel Behavioral Health, believes that we all struggle at times in our lives and we are not intended to struggle alone.

Perhaps you’ve identified your struggle as a loss, traumatic experience, life transition, or illness. Or maybe you’re feeling anxious or depressed, but don’t know why. Megan will help you work through life’s challenges with safety and support. You will forge new insights about yourself, your emotions and behaviors, that will lead you toward living a more fulfilling and authentic life.

With over 10 years of experience in the social services, Megan offers individual and group therapy for adults and adolescents experiencing a wide range of life challenges including depression, anxiety, substance use disorders and addiction, personality disorders, trauma recovery and post-traumatic stress, eating disorders, relationship concerns, career and academic challenges, and other mental health conditions. Megan’s mission is to guide you toward a place of connection, understanding, and improvement.

Interested in working with Megan? Call us today to schedule an appointment with Megan for online or in-person counseling from our office in Wilbraham.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and your path to becoming a therapist with HBH?

A. I’ve always been passionate about helping people. Life experiences, combined with my desire to help people, shifted my focus in undergraduate school from engineering and architecture to psychology. From there, I went on to receive my graduate degree in social work, which allowed me to work with diverse populations in need of help. With my LCSW, I worked as a clinician and clinical supervisor at a community based organization that helped people struggling with substance use disorders.

Social workers serve huge needs, filling voids people don’t realize until they experience a life changing event. Too many people suffer from circumstances beyond their control, and end up falling through the cracks or getting left behind. I want people to know that I’m here to meet their needs and help them live their fullest lives.

Q. What do you like most about being a therapist?

A. Honestly, I love helping people and I love interacting with people.

I’m approached by people all the time. Whether it’s at the grocery store or during a therapy session, people just end up talking to me and telling me their whole life story. It’s like I’m wearing this sign on my head that says, “I’m a therapist.”

I’m a really open and receptive person. I’m nonjudgemental, compassionate, and empathetic. We all struggle at different times in our lives. We have to confront our circumstances, and be open and honest about what we’re going through to allow connection, understanding, healing, and growth in.

Q. How would you describe your counseling style?

A. I’m a person-centered therapist. I use a strength-based, goal-oriented, and solution-based approach to help the client pursue their goals. I meet the client where they are and encourage them to lead our session.

Person-centered therapy allows the client to lead the therapy session, while the therapist acts as a guide or support through the process. As a patient centered therapist, I view the client as a whole individual with unique qualities that will help guide them through life. Instead of focusing on where the client would or should be, I focus on who the client is in their current situation.

When we’re faced with a difficult situation, we want to solve the problem and relieve the symptoms, yet we believe that we’re influenced by external factors outside of our control. I believe that we have the tools and wisdom within us to make the changes we desire. So, I help clients improve their use of self-direction, increase their clarity of thought, improve their self-esteem, and boost their own reliance to achieve their goals.

When it comes to goal-setting, I encourage clients to identify a specific, measurable, and achievable goal to work towards. Therapy goals are meant to be challenging, after all, you’re improving or changing an area of your life that you’ve found comfort in. To prevent the client from feeling overwhelmed, we’ll set short term goals that lead to the overarching goal.

Q. What are your strengths as a therapist?

A. As a therapist, it’s my job to make the client feel safe, comfortable, and understood. I keep communication open and honest by meeting the client where they are. If the client wants to share how they’re feeling, or if they just want to talk about their favorite TV show, I let the client express their thoughts freely.

I’m very patient when it comes to building a supportive bond with the client. It takes time to build trust, and everyone opens up at different stages. I allow the process to unfold naturally, and I keep the playing field level. I never put myself in a position of power over the client.

Q. What therapeutic techniques and modalities do you like to use?

A. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is my go-to modality. CBT helps clients identify a negative, unwanted thought pattern and reframe their mindsets and behaviors in response to them.

I’m a trauma-informed therapist. I’ve worked with people who have all different types of mental health disorders, and I’ve found CBT incredibly useful in alleviating the symptoms that can manifest into PTSD, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance use disorders.

I also use mindfulness-based techniques like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, and present moment awareness to help slow down the client’s thought process, and bring them back into the present moment.

Q. What do you like about working in Wilbraham?

A. Western Massachusetts has always been home for me. I grew up in Westfield, went to school at Westfield State University, and now I live here. I love that the population is getting more and more diverse, we’re seeing advances and inclusion at all levels of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, sexual expression, religion, economic background, and other diverse backgrounds. Our community is growing, and new needs and opportunities are coming up.

I pursued the field of social work because I want change. I want to make people feel understood and supported, and I feel like I have a voice and can make a difference living here.

About The Author

Nettie Hoagland Headshot

Nettie Hoagland is a writer with experience in local news reporting and nonprofit communications and community development. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in Media Studies, Journalism, and Digital Arts from Saint Michael’s College. Nettie is a believer in the healing power of the arts to create connection and community. She is passionate about using writing and storytelling as an instrument for personal and social growth in the field of mental health. Nettie is endlessly curious about all things mental and behavioral health.

Megan Russis Headshot

Megan, LICSW, brings over 10 years of experience in the social services to her therapy practice. Her belief that we all have an inner teacher whose guidance can transform our most difficult circumstances grounds her practice. Megan works with adolescents and adults experiencing a wide range of life challenges including depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance use disorder, eating disorders, and career and academic challenges, among others. More About Author →