Janice March   LMHC-S RPT-S

Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Registered Play Therapist - Supervisor
Qualified Clinical Supervisor

Personal Background

Why would a therapist choose to work with children, and young children in particular, rather than adults? Certainly not because it’s easier, or more profitable! It is neither of those things. It takes more training and a specially furnished and equipped office. And a special temperament, including a large reserve of patience. My decision to work with children’s social and emotional health resulted from several very different life experiences before I came to Sarasota more than twenty years ago.

After some years in academic research, I had moved into teaching and was employed by a community college to teach computer science courses: on campus in the evenings and at a maximum security penitentiary during the day. I worked with the inmates individually and came to know their better selves: their intelligence, persistence, cooperation, humor and respect. And sometimes I learned about their crimes: terrible tragedies, life-altering for victim and perpetrator. More than once I thought “What a disaster! How could these crimes have been prevented? And how did this person end up an inmate here? What happened to him in life, or didn’t happen, with his family, relationships, teachers, coaches, spiritual advisors, as a youth, or as a child or as a baby, that led to this?” I had no answers.

Then circumstances led me abroad and I spent five years teaching English in Japan. At that time the Japanese were crazy in love with everything American, at least everything that was for sale, like McDonald’s, pizza, big expensive sports shoes, jazz, American holidays and learning English. But after a while, thoughtful and curious students and friends felt comfortable enough to ask about some aspects of life in America that weren’t in the curriculum, so to speak. Feeling somewhat defensive, I at first denied, then minimized, then learned with some shock and shame of crack babies, latch-key kids, runaways, kids using drugs, pregnant teenagers, and the surprisingly poor ranking of our educational system internationally. So it was from overseas that I began to try to understand these issues. And I felt responsible for them as American problems, our problems, in a way I never did when I was living in the States.

Once settled in Sarasota, I couldn’t understand why everybody wasn’t alarmed and working on issues relating to our children. Pay attention! This is serious! I felt drawn to do something useful to help American kids live happy, secure, fulfilling lives. And it seemed to me that this would have to be beyond teaching, that the work needed to be done supporting, repairing, healing the emotional lives of children and that must include their families. So I decided to start wherever I could. I went back to school to re-train in the field of mental health and I began working in a paraprofessional capacity in Sarasota’s first runaway shelter and then at a Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) program for locked-up pregnant teenagers. But in working with these teens I found each of them burdened with years of missed opportunities, when more support might have made a difference. These kids were struggling with layers of problems, complex overlapping issues, already changing the course of their lives and the lives of the next generation, the babies these children were having in jail.

I found myself wondering “What could have been different? How could we have helped sooner to prevent the disruption and pain, the wasted years, before society’s response is punishment or institutionalization?” For all the good these programs were doing, I felt help would have been more effective earlier in their lives. Once I had my Masters degree, I chose as clinical supervisor for my internship someone with 20 years of experience working with children in Sarasota: Kathleen Horne MA LMHC. I spent the next 3 years adding to my master’s degree the training and supervision needed to move beyond the minimal requirements of mental health licensure, ways to address social/emotional disturbances earlier and earlier in the life span: Play Therapy, Filial Therapy, and even earlier, Infant Mental Health with mothers and babies.

And that’s why and how I became a mental health therapist with particular interest and skills in working with the youngest clients. Because I think it’s important.

© 2013  |   Janice March LMHC-S RPT-SDesign by Susa Reuter •  www.susa-reuter.de