Anna Needham isn’t quite Deanna Troi from Star Trek TNG, but she’s pretty close! She became a professional counselor because, even as a teenager, she was always in tune to the pain around her. She would notice strained friendships, families in pain – she could tell when a couple in church wasn’t getting along. Anna could usually see both sides of a disagreement and always had a heart to help.
Anna grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and did her undergraduate work there, then after a year in New Jersey as a live-in nanny, she moved to Colorado Springs for graduate school. While in Colorado, Anna met Ben Needham through E-Harmony.com. They fell head over heels for one another, and the rest was history. While Ben and Anna were dating, she visited Canadian and fell in love all over again, this time with the town.
Anna started her business here in Canadian five years ago, naming it Hope Awakened Counseling. “Hope is central to our health. Science shows that. I knew I wanted that word in my practice name for that reason. So I played around with a few options and landed on Hope Awakened because that’s what I desire for my clients – that when they walk through my doors, the hope within them will be awakened and brought into the light. I desire for everyone to know that their present season will pass. New seasons will come and things will change. So have hope.”
Anna is a licensed professional counselor, LPC. This means she has her masters degree, has passed a state exam, and clocked 3400 hours in her field in order to receive that license. She doesn’t dispense medication, but if it proves necessary, she can work with the patient’s doctor to make it happen. “The client can sign a release to communicate with the doctor, the the doctor can write prescriptions. It gives me the chance to know people on a more intimate level, whereas a doctor doesn’t get to spend as much time with a person.”
Privacy is of utmost importance to Hope Awakened Counseling. They are bound by law and bound by ethics – two different things. The law doesn’t necessarily hold you to ethics, but ethics hold you to the law. The office falls under HIPPA guidelines, just like a doctor’s office or hospital. All information is kept confidential. If someone calls and asks if you’re a client – they don’t say yes or no. What is discussed is strictly between the therapist and client. There is even a sound machine in the halls to make sure no one in the building hears what is said inside the therapy room.
Small towns can make confidentiality challenging, but Anna handles it like a pro. “In Colorado, I never saw clients out and about. Here I see them every day, at the grocery store, post office, restaurants. How I explain it is that if I see you in public, I’ll just pretend I don’t know you. I’ll probably smile like I would smile at anybody. I would never, ever say, ‘Oh hey! I’ll see you at your appointment tomorrow.’ I follow my client’s lead. If you come up and start talking to me, of course I would talk with you, like I would anyone else. But the conversation would be appropriate; it won’t be about our therapeutic relationship. If a client sees me in the grocery store and beelines into another aisle, that’s fine. Go right ahead. Nothing hurts my feelings. I will stay where I am for a little while, and give them a chance to leave. I won’t chase them down. Whatever the client is comfortable with. If they want to avoid me, that’s totally fine. Confidentiality being in a small town doesn’t change, the only thing that might be different is we might run into each other a whole lot more.”
One piece of advice she would give everyone is this: Don’t be afraid to figure out who you really are and then LIVE that out! Don’t be afraid to go on that journey. “That’s something that I’m really passionate about helping people do. Helping people find congruence and identify the Truth about them, Truth with a capital T. Things that are unchanging. Because that identifies who we are, when we can know that and learn to live that way, that in and of itself helps us have healthier relationships with ourselves, with our family and friends, be more of who we really are.”
Hope Awakened Counseling can be found on Facebook here or you can reach them at 806-323-6000.