HHA Inspiration Spotlight: Andrea Inauen
Here at Hudson Healing Arts, we feel incredibly lucky to have Andrea Inauen on our team as a counselor. Since 2002, she’s helped empower clients to be in the driver’s seat of their own lives.
There are so many things we admire about her approach to counseling -- one being her dedication to holding her clients in unconditional positive regard. Driven by the belief that each and every one of us is capable of whatever we put our minds to, Andrea has a wonderful gift for helping people discover their strengths and define what’s most important to them in life.
In this month’s blog, Andrea is sharing the influences and inspirations that have shaped her philosophy, as both a counselor and a human being. We hope you enjoy learning more about her background!
The power of choice
Like many young people, I faced a lot of angst and uncertainty about my career path. I was torn between staying in Connecticut or moving home to be close to my family, and on top of that, I felt guilty for not knowing what to do.
A college career counselor shared some simple words that made a profound impact on my life: “You have the right to do what’s right for you. It’s okay not to know. It’s okay to try and then change your mind.”
More than 20 years later, this advice continues to empower me. I realized that I did have the right to choose what I wanted. On top of that, I didn’t have to “get it right” the first time. As a young person, I just didn’t feel like I had the license to do what I really wanted at the time. Her words of wisdom inspired me to be my own advocate and give voice to what I wanted.
It turned out that my first choice (business) wasn’t for me -- and like she said, that was okay! I got my master’s in social work, in part because of that powerful concept she gave me: What would it be like to give other people a choice, to empower themselves, and to advocate for what's important to them?
Unconditional positive regard
In one of my very first social work classes, I learned the term ‘unconditional positive regard.’ This idea of offering clients full acceptance and support has stuck with me ever since. Creating a safe, compassionate, and non-judgmental space for people to explore their feelings and experiences is so important to me. It takes great courage and strength to come to counseling and truly look in the mirror, and I admire each and every person that does so.
Mary Richmond, one of the pioneers in social work at the turn of the 20th century, is also a strong influence in my initiation into social work for her concept of ‘person in the environment’ or PEI for short. Richmond acknowledges that there are environmental forces that influence your perception and interaction in the world and yourself (rather than something being “wrong” with you or fundamentally flawed).
Embracing & celebrating strengths
The strengths-based perspective, which comes from Dennis Saleebey, has had a profound impact on the way I approach each and every counseling session. The idea of encouraging people to embrace their strengths to manage life challenges resonates with me deeply.
While I'm honored to hold space for people to process their trauma, the ultimate goal is to empower them to tap into the strength within to navigate those traumas. It goes along with the idea of unconditional positive regard: People have what they need within them to survive what they've gone through. I work with clients to develop these tools and rediscover the beauty that’s within them.
It might sound corny, but Mister Rogers is someone who’s always inspired me. He radiated genuine kindness and created a safe space through his programs for children to gather and talk about difficult things. Permission for feelings and kindness to others and also to self is a tenet that influences me and my practice.
It’s okay to be human
Oprah is another human who embodies kindness. Despite her success, she owns being a human being and doesn’t try to act “perfect.” I admire that she is always trying to learn about herself and others, try new things, and do good. She used to say “When you know better, you do better,” which comes back to that lesson I learned back in college: You don’t have to have it all figured out!
People often ask where the name Gigi Counseling came from. Gigi refers to a kind of bamboo plant I was introduced to a long time ago. Bamboo is flexible, resilient, and strong, and it tends to resist breaking when placed under stress. It has qualities within that are not necessarily visible at first glance, but with nurturing and growth, its strengths become apparent. Sound familiar? It is what I know to be true about the clients with whom I work.
These are just a few of the influences that helped shape me as a person and a counselor. My job is not to tell people what to do, but rather to create a safe, kind, and non-threatening space to support them. The ultimate goal is for my clients to discover what they truly want, and to believe they’re capable of it.
It’s so rewarding for me to see people begin to trust their own instincts and values. I love seeing them recognize that they have agency to work through struggles and to care for themselves in a compassionate way.
If you are interested in learning more or setting up an appointment, feel free to reach out at (973) 886-0941.
Hannah Chenoweth is a Hoboken-based conference producer and freelance writer who enjoys covering all aspects of health and wellness.