Get to know mental health specialist Dr. Barb Michelson

photograph of Dr. Barb Michelson Clinical Psychologist

Written by Kristen Minichello

February 3, 2022

This month we are spotlighting a member of our Multi-Disciplinary Team, Dr. Barb Michelson. Dr. Michelson is a Clinical Psychologist who provides mental health support for families receiving services at our Child Advocacy Center.

We asked Dr. Barb Michelson to share a little bit more about herself so that we could all get to know her a little better. This interview was edited for length, content, and clarity.

 

How did you get involved with The Children’s Center?

I was the first regular mental health person to come over. My role is to see how the parents are doing and be supportive of them. At MDT (monthly case review meetings), if something really stuck out about a parent mental health-wise, I would share that. I’m a resource for the Family Advocate if they need a referral for children’s counseling services.

 

What are you most proud of in your work with The Center?

Proud seems like a weird word. I get a lot of satisfaction out of feeling like I’m contributing to the community and supporting the people who are having trouble. They can always call me. They can call me six months later and I can be a resource for them with mental health questions. They typically don’t because they get connected to somebody, but I’m happy if they wanted to.

In terms of my work, one of my most positive memories was at the rec center, some mom said “oh you helped my daughter so much and she’s now in college and is doing so well.” That always gives you a lot of satisfaction when you saw someone when they were 15 and now they are 22 and doing fine.

 

What is the best advice you were ever given?

The advice was from my co-worker. She said with any particular case that you are going to see, lay the groundwork and have a good foundation. Do a thorough intake. Get all the information upfront so that you have as big a picture as possible.

 

When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

A lot of different things. I wanted to be a legal secretary and a probations officer. When I was a kid, I was convinced I wasn’t really all that bright and I didn’t want to go to college, so I thought being a legal secretary made some sense. I could go to secretarial school. I love typing. I thought being a probation officer, I could help people. I ended up going to college, five years of graduate school and writing a dissertation. I’m so glad I don’t have to do that anymore!

 

What convinced you that you could do that if you felt like you weren’t capable of it initially?

It was actually kind of a whacky journey. I went to college. I had a job in college working in the library. I graduated college in New Jersey. I moved to Columbus. Of course, for a guy that I had met in college who I later married – and then later divorced. I got a job in Columbus in a daycare center making less than minimum wage with a college degree. Eventually, I got a job at the patient’s library at Columbus State Hospital and that started my career in mental health.

After two and a half years, we moved to Cleveland for my husband to go to law school. Again, I was looking for a job and I was classified as an activity therapist. Back in the 70s, you could do counseling without a degree. I was able to work in a community mental health center with that title. I worked in downtown Cleveland and then I worked for the City of Cleveland which was a wonderful job. I was sorry when they did away with their mental health unit. I came to Medina to work at the community mental health center.

I realized that these people with PhDs were making a lot more money than me while doing the same job. So I thought I would check out graduate school. I scheduled a meeting with the head of the psych department at Kent just to talk about the program and he said, “well, when can you start.” A lot of my things went my way to go to grad school.

 

What is your favorite way to unwind after a busy day?

I work until 8:00 PM or sometimes 9:00 PM, so then I just go home and watch TV. What I really like to do though is go exercise, which is what I’m doing right after this, and play with my grandchildren. I walk twenty miles a week.

 

What is your favorite season?

I really love every season. I probably like Spring the best although I really like Fall too. I love Spring when everything is like pink and yellow and green.

 

What is one thing you think the community needs to know about The Children’s Center?

I think the community needs to know is that it even exists and what an amazing thing it is that The Children’s Center is here and offers such a wonderful thing to the community. I remember what it was like before there was a Children’s Center. Kids were interviewed ten million times and parents had little to no support. The only support they got was through Job and Family Services. And back then, just like now, they have a ton of cases. It is great for families to have this additional support.

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