Today we’d like to introduce you to Gennifer Morley.
Gennifer, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
The story of how I got started begins with my mother returning to school to complete her B.A. when I was about twelve. I found her psychology textbook and brought it into my room. There I culled over the pages, devouring the theory in it. Something came alive in me then, it was one of those moments that you know you’ve found your ‘thing’. My mom would pass away suddenly from pancreatic cancer six years later, completing her B.A. and starting her M.A. in Counseling Psychology before she became ill. Ultimately, I would go on to finish what she started and to become, in many ways, the person I expect she dreamed of being herself.
Between the time she returned school when I was twelve and the time of her passing, I saw her sitting at our dining room table focused and determined, proving things to herself and unwittingly to me. I saw her believing in herself and as a mother of three kids who was also working full time, I saw her drawing more and more strength where there ought to have been exhaustion. I saw alchemy, human potential and choice.
Her passing was critical to a shift in how I saw the world and my own hunger for life. Suddenly, life was finite. It was a resource of incredible potential and easily missed. I was not going to miss it. I went to undergrad for Wilderness therapy at UNH and then transferred to a tiny liberal arts school in AZ. called Prescott College. I went on to pursue a career in medicine after doubting therapy as my true calling. I still call chemistry my unrequited love. I loved it…and it did not love me back. I felt like I was constantly swimming upstream during my pre-med coursework and the lifestyles that I saw the doctors living at the hospital where I was working were not what I wanted for myself. At some point, I admitted to myself that was and had always been, destined to be a therapist and I moved back out west (where my heart has always been) to go to grad school for counseling.
While I’d been in Vermont working on my misguided career path in medicine, my brother passed away unexpectedly but not surprisingly from an opioid overdose. The grieving process of his loss was much harder for me than that of losing my mother a decade before. I felt wrecked and it would be years before the thought of his death didn’t hit me hard every time. This combined with the loss of my mother, forced me to dig deep. No one wants to be brave, no one wants to persevere. We do these things because we have to, we do them to fight for our lives and our livelihood. So, I learned a lot about fighting for my life, the life I’d learned years back was so precious.
I brought all this to graduate school with me and dug even deeper in a mindfulness-based graduate program at Naropa University. Daily meditation and bi-weekly counseling were required in the program, so in addition to the theory, I was learning first hand how to tolerate what felt intolerable, and to stay with myself and slowly accept myself.
I believe it took all of this to have the tenacity, patience and perseverance to start and scale my private counseling practice and consulting business to what it is today. As I write this, I am aware that I will be 41 in six months. That is the age my mother died. I wish nearly every day she was here to see me, to see what came of the seeds she planted at our dining room table. Maybe she is in some way. I am for sure here, juicing the lemon of life.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Struggle was the central function of cultivating my own strength and trust in myself. Most everything I’ve gained or achieved has taken far longer than I thought it should. So, patience has been a hard-learned skill.
The other struggle was believing that my slow starts and failures were a testament to my worth, rather than a lack of skills. At first when I was only seeing a few clients I would sometimes think that when I was more professional or experienced or whatever, folks would show up in droves. While there is some truth to that, it was really rooted in feeling like I needed to be ‘more.’ Once I realized that was faulty thinking, I just started working harder on the things I wasn’t good at and things fell into place. But, it took being able to admit ‘I’ was good, even if I wasn’t good at everything.
Please tell us about North Boulder Counseling.
The vision of North Boulder Counseling is to bring people together. This life is too hard to do alone and when we are anxious or depressed, we tend to try to go it alone. We need each other too much to let anxiety and depression get between us.
North Boulder Counseling started out as just me working a few hours here and there while I was also a personal assistant to a local businessman. Today, I am in the process of hiring two new clinicians and building a robust consulting business to support other therapists in realizing their visions as well.
I’m most proud of the way that this business has brought people together. Not just clients but everyone I have come in contact with. Together we can do what none of us can do alone.
What were you like growing up?
Until middle school I didn’t have a lot of friends and I spent most of my time climbing apple trees in our yard and riding my bike with my little sister. In middle school we moved to a new school district and suddenly, the girls were literally fighting over who got to be my friend. There I bloomed into an incredibly outgoing, boisterous and adventurous person. Now I love people and look forward to listening to them and their stories in all kinds of situations. I will always need to spend time hiking, exercising and meeting up with all kinds of people.
- Psychotherapy session 50m $130
- Consulting session 60m $150
- Laughing $0
- Address: 2975 Valmont St Suite 320, Boulder, CO 80301
- Website: NorthBoulderCounseling.com
- Phone: 720.588.3174
- Email: Gennifer@NorthBoulderCounseling.com
- Instagram: @NorthBoulderCounseling
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NorthBoulderCounseling/