Natalie A. Hock, MSW, is one of four therapists to join LifeWorks this year through the Greenhouse, our postgraduate psychotherapy training and mentoring program.
In the following interview, Natalie shares some of her motivation to work in the world in a way that makes a difference to others. Don’t miss the inspiring poem by Marc Smith that she cites. It gives real insight into Natalie’s sustaining inner spirit and drive.
What first drew you to the Greenhouse?
I earned my MSW in May 2015. So though I am not new to the working world, I am a quite new! One could even say “green” to the world of professional social work and psychotherapy.
The process of graduate school, and certainly my fieldwork experiences, instilled in me a keen awareness and sensitivity regarding the dynamic clinical needs of individuals and families, but I knew there is much more to be cultivated and nurtured within me. Before applying to the Greenhouse, I knew that continued development of my awareness and sensitivity would be dependent upon and elevated by intentional supervision relationships – both 1:1 and in groups..
I spent time in the corporate world before embarking on my social work and social justice journey. Sadly, it often felt possible to “succeed” in the corporate world without appropriate mentorship and supervision. But, it seems to me, to be impossible to flourish and grow as a social worker and clinician without proper mentorship and supervision. This is likely due to the fact that flourishing as a therapist and as a corporate woman look very different.
I have always had a yearning to be supervised and mentored by an intentional community of peers and experienced colleagues. My 1:1 supervisory relationship during graduate training showed me the importance of clinical “chemistry” between me and my supervisor. My primary interest in the Greenhouse program came from wanting more experiences that would be additive and nurturing. I really wanted a chance to develop close connections with other colleagues – both peers and supervisory.
Tell us about your goals and aspirations—what are you hoping for in the rest of 2016 and beyond?
I would like to invite readers to enjoy the following piece by Chicago’s own Marc Smith: “Pull the Next One Up”. This piece has shaped a lot of my clinical and social justice work thus far, and my primary goal for 2016 has been to live its message of inspiration and endurance as deeply as possible, whether I am working with individuals, families, or groups.
If I had continued on my once-projected undergraduate path and become a philosopher, I would have been an existentialist; undoubtedly, I will always embrace tones of existential theory in building an alliance and engaging in meaning making with clients. In these ways, my emerging theoretical and clinical orientations seem suited to the mission, perspective, and depth psychology orientation of the Greenhouse program.
After the Greenhouse, I plan to start a private practice, and also to continue my work in agencies that serve marginalized and disenfranchised communities. I want eventually to pursue a PhD and to study the mental and physical health effects (both negative and positive) of work and workplace environments on individuals, relationships, and families.
What have you been enjoying most during the Greenhouse year?
I have truly enjoyed the weekly in-service training, our monthly Greenhouse peer group meetings, and the access to the expertise of the clinicians at LifeWorks. We are one of the strongest communities I have ever spent time in. LifeWorks feels like a place where clinicians intentionally come together to grow and be in community with other practitioners.