For Emily Teegarden (’13, ’16), challenging stigmas related to mental health is a typical day at work. But it’s also her passion.
The Erlanger, Kentucky, native is a primary therapist at the Eating Recovery Center of Ohio, where she leads individual and group therapy sessions for patients with eating, mood and anxiety disorders.
“Mental health awareness is exceedingly important,” she says. “I've met so many individuals who don't realize that other people experience the same things they do related to their mental health. It's so crucial to normalize mental health and separate from any stigma that might be associated.”
Teegarden, who always had an interest in mental health, started out as a Psychology major at Northern Kentucky University. Shortly after she graduated in 2013, she began considering graduate school.
"The most challenging thing was trying to figure out if I was becoming a ‘good’ counselor. Becoming a counselor isn’t something you can get an A in and be done with. You must continuously work and grow.”
As Teegarden reflected on her undergraduate experiences, it wasn’t difficult to make the decision to come back to NKU, where she enrolled in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.
“NKU was and will always be my home,” she says. “The professors took the time to get to know each student and provided us with specific feedback and encouragement to help us grow and become outstanding therapists. I was provided with countless opportunities to explore my interests and passions related to the counseling field and was challenged to take risks to further my growth and development.”
During her time in the program, Teegarden completed a 600-hour internship at a private practice where she was able to provide therapy to individuals, couples and families. She also worked at a grade school one day each week and provided school-based therapy to students.
But the hardest part about graduate school wasn’t the curriculum.
“The most challenging thing was trying to figure out if I was becoming a ‘good’ counselor,” Teegarden says. “Becoming a counselor isn’t something you can get an A in and be done with. You must continuously work and grow.”
Teegarden believes the experiences she had while at NKU helped her prepare to enter the field after she received her master’s degree in 2016.
“I love my job,” she says. “Working with eating disorders was my long-term goal, and I get to do that every single day. I’m forever grateful for NKU and the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.”