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School of Education and Human Development University of Colorado Denver

School of Education and Human Development
 

Ruth Possehl

Clinical Supervisor & Psychotherapist, CU Denver Counseling Center


My story:

I remember talking in the 1970's with one of the docs I worked with at the Boulder People's Clinic where I worked as an intake coordinator. He was telling me about a "fascinating type of therapy" in which the therapist had him "give my shoe a voice." I had been interested in engaging in personal therapy myself and had talked to several people about their experiences. Though this description seemed highly bizarre at the time - I was intrigued. Though I didn't necessarily immerse myself in Gestalt as this doctor had, I found counseling extremely helpful. I had recently returned from Australia where I had been a special education teacher and I imagined that I would continue my career in the same area. After my experience in counseling, however, I made a detour into a counseling psychology graduate school program - so began the winding road to work in counseling.

My passion for the field of grief, loss and trauma began several years into my work as a counselor. Due to the deaths of several friends and clients in the space of six months, I launched myself into a Hospice program and eventually became a bereavement counselor. In this setting, I began to learn the richness and benefit of a caring community for people who are making their way through the grief process. I began to see the importance of knowing these grieving clients - culturally, ethnically, socio-economically, in their sexual orientation and the era in which they grew up.

Years later, I had the privilege of working with refugees in Colorado through the Rocky Mountain Survivor's Center and also became trained to write affidavits for people - mostly from Africa - seeking asylum in the U.S. due to their torture experiences. In the fall of 2007, I had the extraordinary opportunity to travel to Rwanda to witness the dynamic Rwandese in their reconciling and healing process as a result of the 1994 genocide. I saw first-hand the importance of purpose and hope in the grief and recovery process. Through my work in the area of loss and trauma, I have gained a deep appreciation for people's resilience and strength. I want to collaborate with students in this area of counseling.

My students at the University of Colorado Denver:

Just as I am honored to work with my diverse clients in the university community, I am honored to work with graduate students in the clinical "culmination" of their program. I'm proud of their commitment to the profession and our Center. I want them to revel in the knowledge that through their skill, care, intuition and compassion, they have impacted their clients-- and they've impacted me. I want them to realize that they are the people providing the "practical application" of all the research and writing that's done in the field - they're always front and center.

Classes I teach at the University of Colorado Denver:

  • Practicum Clinical Supervisor - CPCE 5910
  • Special Topics - Grief and Loss (class being offered fall 2008)
  • Psychotherapist - UC-Denver Student and Community Counseling Center

My research interests:

I plan to continue my education in grief and loss. I am interested also in continuing to research global trauma programs and how they interface with mental health recovery.

My hobbies:

I enjoy traveling - particularly to visit my daughters who live in different cities and countries of the world so that they can be my tour guides! I also love to be in natural settings whether it is hiking in the mountains or digging around in my garden.

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Human Development

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