The Pulse Wellness Cooperative team is thrilled to welcome Evelyn Witt, MSW, QMHP-R to our clinical team! Evelyn is a recent MSW graduate and brings a refreshing and embodied approach to her practice. She is currently under supervision to complete the requirements for licensure as a Clinical Social Worker.
We asked Evelyn to introduce herself and share a little about what fuels her work.
1. What inspires you to keep learning and growing in your career?
This might sounds funny, but learning and growing inspires me to keep learning and growing! Supporting clients through change and growth is such a positive feedback loop of inspiring my own change and growth. I get to sit with colleagues and clients as they explore and reflect on new paths and ways of being. That daily exercise in exploration continues to open new doors and seed new ideas for what I want to work on in myself.
2. Who is someone you admire and/or learn from either personally or professionally?
I have deep admiration for my therapist! She has stuck with me for years and together we have built such a supportive space to hold all the challenging complexities of this wild world. She has taught me so much about myself through slow and compassionate exploration. My experience in session with her is a huge part of why I wanted to become a therapist.
3. What book do you wish everyone would read and talk about?
I wish that everyone was reading and talking about Polysecure by Jessica Fern. I love the way that Fern roots the conversation about relationship structures in Attachment Theory. So much of what we see about relationships in the media normalizes controlling and codependent relationship structures. Polysecure complicates some of these norms and centers on building secure attachment. It’s a powerful book for understanding non-monogamy and monogamy alike!
4. What is something you find yourself repeating on a regular basis?
I love to cross-reference feelings and thoughts with our physical body so I often find myself asking, “How does that sit in your body?”. It can be a powerful touch stone for deepening understanding while also cultivating a relationship with our emotions that allows a little space to respond instead of react.
5. What theoretical orientation, modality, or thought leader in the field has had the biggest impact on you as an LCSW?
The theoretical orientation or modality that has the most impact on me as a clinician is systems theory/family systems theory. In systems theory we look at how an individual is situated within overlapping and interlocking systems. We look at smaller systems of friends or family members, and we also look at huge oppressive systems like white supremacy. So often we can feel at the mercy of these big and small systems, but through a systems theory lens I believe that individuals can add new elements that disrupt the established equilibrium of these systems, forcing them to adapt and change. I love this theory because it acknowledges where we are disempowered, and also shines a light on our individual ability to disrupt and change the systems we exist within.
6. Where do you find joy?
Joy has been palpable lately. Finishing hard things, like grad school, and finding people that believe in my potential, like Pulse Wellness, brings me to tears every time. Joy radiates most when I reflect on times when I listed to my intuition, believed in myself, and took a leap of faith that landed me exactly where I didn’t know I needed to go.
7. Why Pulse?
There was a trifecta of green flags that ushered me into Pulse. First, was the cooperative structure. I have always been so upset by the capitalist status quo of exploiting workers for capitalist gains and I appreciate how cooperatives stay in conversation with new approaches to minimize exploitation. Second, was meeting the founder of Pulse, Rosanne Marmor, when she was presenting on therapist self care and sustainable approaches to mitigating social work burn out. I thought— this woman really cares about her team! And the final straw was when Brooke White, my former supervisor, transitioned to working at Pulse. I had spent a year learning from Brooke, and knew I wanted to stay near her extremely experienced background and hilarious personality. On every level Pulse felt like a great fit and getting to know the team has only deepened that feeling.
8. Where are you from and what brought you to Portland? What is unique, special, interesting, or frustrating about Portland?
I am originally from Corvallis, OR. and moved to Portland in 2016 looking for a career change and some city excitement. Zooming out, it’s challenging to hold Portland’s liberal ideals alongside its neoliberal/moderate actions. There are people in this community who have important solutions to our housing, policing, and mental health crisis but instead of listening, city leaders continue to block radical change. On a more positive note, I love my neighborhood community of people who dog sit, share baking ingredients, and chat at the park. I love being connected to my neighborhood and the people in it.
9. What’s your ‘why’?
I believe that experiencing harm can cause us to retreat into ourselves, creating separateness from others. I think a lot of pain, both small and large-scale, can be connected to separateness. The more separate we are, the more blame, shame, and othering we engage with. Blame, shame, and othering at the hand of individuals perpetuates systems like racism, capitalist exploitation, and the prison industrial complex. Through healing we cultivate togetherness. Therefore, I believe that individual healing is a path to shifting exploitative systems that thrive on blame and othering.
10. If there were one thing you could change within the field of social work what would that be?
I have lots that I think needs to change in the field of social work, but one of the bigger things would be financial accessibility to entering the field. Getting a masters degree is expensive and a huge barrier to so many people who are great community leaders and would be incredible clinicians. I know so many people in debt, myself included, because of what it costs to learn these skills.