Rebekah Lubeck, LCSW is one of the founding members here at Pulse Wellness Cooperative! She brings years of experience as a Social Worker and holds positions on the Pulse board and as our Director of Quality Assurance. We asked Rebekah to answer some questions about who she is and what makes her tick!

1. What inspires you to keep learning and growing in your career?

Number one, I love learning new things. I love learning about new things. And so being a therapist is a little bit selfish, because there’s always something new to learn about from somebody new. Also, because I’ve discovered it’s a really good way to prevent personal burnout. I know that’s not true for everyone. But for me, learning new things keeps me from burning out. Also, I feel like there’s always new and better and different ways to try things and because everybody is different in how they experience and respond to therapy, the bigger toolbox I have, the more I bring to the therapy process. I’m also a perfectionist.

2. Who is someone you admire and/or learn from either personally or professionally?

I’m stuck on who I admire because there’s a lot of them. I just borrow from everyone. There’s no one person, there have been piles and piles of people. But kind of like my answer to what book do I want everyone to read is the one that I’m currently obsessed over. 

I spent probably a year reading almost everything bell hooks ever wrote. She was a huge influence. Alice Miller was another one, The drama of the gifted child, for your own good, like all of that stuff that was really influential early in my psychology education.

I would say the person that follows me most into the therapy room is my own first therapist. I was a baby 18 year old. And it did not take her very long to figure out that the root of most things we need to talk to talk about with shame. And having moved through therapy circles and talk to other people moving through therapy circles, I realized the dumb luck, that a randomly assigned on campus counselor would be such a wealth of knowledge around shame at 18. And so if I think of the thread that I’ve pulled all the way through a lot of life, it’s that.

Also, my two undergraduate English professors would totally make the list of people that broke my brain and put it back together.  Again, not entirely intentionally. All they did was assign me some books. I’m a perfectionist. Who likes A’s. Obviously, I’m going to read them.

3. What book do you wish everyone would read and talk about?

Legitimately whatever book I’m currently reading. I start a book, I fall hard for it. I expect everyone to obsess over it with me until the flame burns out. And then I move on, and I start the next one. Right now, I am rereading Good Omens because Season Two of the tv show is stuck in my brain. So I have been rewatching different episodes, in different orders, listening to the soundtrack,  re-reading the book, and reading internet conspiracies on what the ending of season two meant.

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Pratchett is responsible for quite a few pithy quotes you’ve probably seen in social justice circles from the mouths of his fictional British fantasy characters. The two of them wrote the book, and they explicitly wrote their sections with the purpose of making the other person laugh. So the entire book is hilarious.

4. What is something you find yourself repeating either to clients, your students, or yourself (or all of the above) on a regular basis?

Number one: “Fuck that.” 

Number two: “Oh it makes sense that your brain would do that given what it’s been through.”

5. What theoretical orientation, modality, or thought leader in the field has had the biggest impact on you as an LCSW?

Collaborative problem solving is way up on the list. It was one of the very first things that I got trained in. The idea that people do the best they can with the tools they have, was mind breaking. This was even before I went to grad school. Sitting through that tier one training was so illuminating. The idea that everyone is actually trying their best became a foundational paradigm of how I see the world. It felt like a much gentler version of behaviorism. And as much as I love feelings, behaviorism has always made sense to me. Like, at the end of the day, we are in fact, animals. We’re just complicated animals. And so any model that can put behaviorism together with an emotional state, and compassion is like, “Oh, this makes sense!”

7. Why Pulse?

It started when Roseanne told me she was going to do something cool and I should come work for her. And I did. And then it became a co-op and I got a bunch of cool co-workers. So I stuck around.

I was thinking about going into private practice for a while. And I was really lucky with my co-workers at DHS. I had a little pocket of happiness that I spent five years cultivating and I made it what I wanted. So the idea of leaving that, as much as I wanted to leave the job, I didn’t want to leave having coworkers, and I didn’t really know how to go join a private practice, and I didn’t know how to go start my own. But Rosanne was like, “Hey I’m starting a private practice. You should come.” I’m still here because the values align with me and I identify as queer.

8. Where are you from and what brought you to Portland? What is unique, special, interesting, or frustrating about Portland?

I was born in Portland. So not a lot of choice there. I chose to stay because when I was traveling around, I could never compete with the fact that I could have the beach and the mountains within 40 minutes in either direction. And the tap water tastes better. There’s a reasonably good variety of food. It felt like a big city without being massive. Also I hate change.

9. What’s your ‘why’?

When I was in middle school, I found a random self published memoir of a guy who was a a suicide counselor for youth. He was the person who went into the hospital following a kid’s suicide attempt and would talk to them, and the family. He was just running this tiny one-man nonprofit after care program in the 80s. He was from Portland. It was self published in Portland. And I read it. And I was like “I’d like to do that. That’s really cool!”

Then I kind of took a very meandering way to get there because well, meaning people were like, don’t major in psychology, you’ll never have a job. And so I tried a few other options. And at the end of the day, it all came back to but all I really want to do is play with feelings. That and like psychology books, and anything about relationships and how humans ticked.

I’ve spent most of my life thinking there must be a guidebook for this life, somewhere around here, like people out there seem to know what they’re doing, there must be a guidebook. And then I discovered people did write guidebooks for other people. And some of them are relevant to people in jobs studying why people do what they do. Especially since I hadn’t really understood that from an early age. 

10. If there were one thing you could change within the field of social work what would that be?

If there was one thing that I could change within the field of social work, it was that we would get a lot more organized. And like unions and cooperatives and just as a movement, social work would get back to its roots. We’d quit punting lobbying and advocacy to the one social worker at the political organization. In my mind, social work is a whole lot about understanding systems of power and interacting with systems of power and I feel like we abdicate that as soon as we walk out the door of school.

Learn more about Rebekah!