Decatur, Ga. native Ginny Thompson graduated with a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling in 2011 and after studying and living in several other places – including Massachusetts, California and Sweden – she now calls Atlanta home.
At present, she fuses her knowledge of counseling and yoga in her business, Dharma Counseling and Yoga.
“Along my professional path as a counselor, I experienced burnout and took some time away from full-time counseling to focus on yoga, meditation and the mind-body connection,” she wrote on her website. “Living in the forests of Sweden and the desert of Baja California Sur, I completed my advanced yoga teacher training and most importantly, became clear about my ‘dharma,’ or life’s purpose, in bringing mind-body awareness to others in an energetically sustainable way for me.”
Q: What made you choose Georgia State University and the College of Education & Human Development in particular?
A: “It was important for me to study in a program that valued diversity and to study in a community where I would have the opportunity to work with diverse populations during my graduate internship. After living abroad for two years, it was important to study with faculty who prioritized and celebrated multiculturalism. I found this to be so at Georgia State.”
Q: What made you want to become a counselor?
A: “I wanted to better understand myself and my own worldview and to help others with their personal formations. I wanted to support others through dire circumstances in their lives. And I wanted tools to better understand how I could be effective in that way. During my program, Tiffany McNary and Greg Brack inspired me to pursue work in trauma and play therapy. They helped me lay a strong foundation in these subjects, which still informs my work a decade later.”
Q: What fascinates you most about research?
A: “I trained with Bessel van der Kolk and his faculty at the Justice Resource Institute in Boston, Mass. They study the use of yoga to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. As a yoga teacher and trauma counselor, I find this research critical in promoting healing modality for chronic and acute trauma.”
Q: How did our faculty make an impact on you and your career?
A: “Jonathan Orr, Tiffany McNary and Brian Dew were incredible mentors to me throughout my counseling career. They have a passion for the program, its students and the greater good the counseling field brings to local and global communities. They played a large role in my development as a counselor.”
Q: What tips would you give a student who is considering a career in counseling?
A: “I tell people thinking of going to graduate school that it’s like spending two years underwater in the most fascinating ocean. There’s more to learn than you can imagine. The phrase ‘trying to keep your head above water’ didn’t apply to me in graduate school; I was completely submerged in it and loved it. Graduate school is a playground for learning. It’s a place to make mistakes. And you get real-time feedback in ways you often don’t experience in the field. So, dive right in and enjoy.”
Q: Is there something about you that you feel would inspire a new student?
A: “I began a yoga practice to help manage the rigor of graduate study while completing the program. In the Department of Counseling and Psychological Services, there’s a lot of talk about self-care. Making time for yoga helped reduce academic stress and made me a better counselor. Whether it’s yoga, running, biking, art, music or spending time with friends and family, I found prioritizing self-care to be a direct link to my academic and professional success.
Greg Brack, Ph.D.
I try to surround myself with positive communities. And I never hesitate to reach out for support, whether for a consultation or to connect with others in the field. My most fulfilling counseling jobs are when supportive supervisors and colleagues surround me. I now work in a community with Dana Goldman – she’s a fellow Georgia State professional counseling graduate from my cohort. And there are other inspiring women in our practice. We gather on a regular basis to support one another and attend to our ongoing development as helping professionals.”
Q: Do you have any favorite places downtown to eat, study or hang out?
A: “I loved walking to Woodruff Park and for lunch at Dua for delicious Vietnamese food on Broad Street.”
Q: If you could create your own study abroad trip, where would you go and what would you do?
A: “I would create a study abroad trip to Huancayo, Peru. It’s a place near to my heart. I would provide play therapy training to teachers and community members who provide services to children working in the streets there.”
A: Do you have any recommended reading for new students?
A: “I love recommending the book, “The Great Work of Your Life” by Stephen Cope. It’s an immense inspiration to me and it continues to inform my work in helping others live a life in alignment with their true nature.”