“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” Angela Davis
The Pulse Wellness Cooperative team is thrilled to welcome Brooke White, LCSW to our clinical team! Brooke brings a wide range of professional experience as a social worker, therapist, supervisor, and educator to her new role at Pulse. We asked Brooke to introduce herself and share a little about what fuels her work.
1. What inspires you to keep learning and growing in your career?
Honestly, this work inspires me to keep learning! When you decide to become a therapist, there is some part of you that knows that you will always be learning about people and humans (in general) but it’s not until you’ve been doing this work for a while that you realize that you are also signing up to constantly be learning about yourself. The more self-work and self-exploration I do, the more I learn things that apply to clients, students, supervisees, and larger systems that I hope to dismantle.
2. Who is someone you admire and/or learn from either personally or professionally?
I mean, I feel really corny but my answer is my clients and students. I feel so honored to watch the bravery and perseverance it takes to truly investigate complicated patterns, responses, and beliefs in therapy and people’s vulnerability inspires and teaches me so much. Similarly, I get to watch students and associates reach out and try something new, look for answers, ask hard questions, and get outside of their comfort zone and it always inspires me to push myself harder and think deeply about what I believe about this work and my role in it.
3. What book do you wish everyone would read and talk about?
There are many books that should be required reading for all humans but one that I really appreciate and that I found in the right season of my life is Wintering by Katherine May. It’s poignant and lovely and teaches us about how to embrace seasons of difficulty but also appreciate that the earth has an entire season where it essentially shuts down and does not try to do or create anything and if we can’t learn from that, what are we even doing?
4. What is something you find yourself repeating either to clients, your students, or yourself (or all of the above) on a regular basis?
I am a BIG fan of metaphor so in general, I share lots and lots of different metaphors for all kinds of situations. I am also often saying, “it’s all data” to students and clients. This means that things seen, felt, and observed by clinicians or clients do not have positive or negative judgments attached, it is all simply information. This also means that the absence of a response, feeling, or experience is also data. And just like data, we don’t hold judgment about it or try to wish it away or to be something else, we simply notice and take what feels relevant and move forward.
5. What theoretical orientation, modality, or thought leader in the field has had the biggest impact on you as an LCSW?
There are so many things I could choose here but I think the most impactful has been understanding systems and the way people, concepts, culture of systems, and norms within systems are connected and impacted by one another. Without an understanding of micro, mezzo, and macro systems I would lack the critical skills necessary to depersonalize challenges and symptoms and behaviors that people engage in. I have noticed that for clients and myself, this recognition is often the key to unlocking new skills and deeper understanding of why we have been affected by problematic relationships, patterns, and beliefs about ourselves.
6. Where do you find joy?
Oh boy, in so many places: my family, my dog (but really, any dog, let’s just say most animals), outdoor spaces, sunshine, good coffee, a good cry, a deep conversation with a person I love, a garden that is producing something beautiful, an excellent book, my work, a good deep and unexpected sleep. (Just to name a few)
7. Why Pulse?
I have worked in nonprofit clinical leadership positions for a long time. When I made the hard decision to leave these spaces, I knew that I needed to be in community with people who were like-minded, open, brilliant, and fun and BOY DID I FIND THEM!
This group is doing important work for their clients, their community, and themselves. I love the cooperative model and the fact that I get to use my administrative brain and skills and apply them to a group that is working to radically change mental health care. When I was working in nonprofit spaces, there were always moments where it felt like it wasn’t okay or acceptable to say what I was really thinking, because we were part of the larger and problematic system and when I started at Pulse, I noticed those things no longer go unsaid and I’m not always the one saying them. This has been a salve that I didn’t even know I needed.
Also, did I mention that they are hilarious and fun? It’s been a real joy to get to know them!
8. Where are you from and what brought you to Portland? What is unique, special, interesting, or frustrating about Portland?
I moved here in 2020 from Austin, TX where I had gone to graduate school and worked in the nonprofit sector for over 10 years. I loved Austin for a lot of reasons but I also constantly felt that I had to make excuses for it – for its policies and attitudes (not to mention its weather!). I know that Portland is not perfect either but no place is and what I see in Portland is funding, available services, accessibility (in many ways), and people who want to be involved in the solution.
This is not often the case in Austin and it’s been a relief to see so many people have access to quality mental health care and insurance (remember, Texas didn’t expand Medicaid and so services are much less accessible!). I also notice that Portland is working on finding ways to address housing issues that seem to feel new for the city (at least for most Portlanders). I was fortunate to work in organizations that were addressing houselessness in Austin and got to be a part of some innovative solutions that I hope will find their way to this community as well.
Besides all of this, I have to say that the people, the weather, and the landscape are incredible and I often pinch myself that I get to live in such a beautiful place.
9. What’s your ‘why’?
Accessibility. Members of my family have had experiences where, not only their lack of accessibility to services has done them harm, but they have been directly harmed by people in power gatekeeping accessibility to much needed mental health services. As an undergraduate student who didn’t know anything about social work, only that I wanted to help people, I was so excited to learn about a profession where people work to provide affordable access to basic human rights in this economy and I couldn’t sign up fast enough.
10. If there were one thing you could change within the field of social work what would that be?
I wish it were better appreciated and compensated. The people engaging in this work help to improve the lives of individuals and entire communities and are often taught that the only way to do that is to sacrifice themselves, their personal health and wellbeing. There is a very toxic belief in many social work spaces that when someone chooses this work, their good will, belief in what is best for the community, and motivation to create change are enough to sustain them but that’s not true. People in this work use hard and soft skills that take a lot of time, effort, and energy to maintain and that needs to be compensated and appreciated.
Visit Brooke’s page, to learn more!