A Recipe of Rain and Desert
Photo of Mt. Hood by James Morden on Unsplash

A Recipe of Rain and Desert

My roots as both an Oregonian and a New Mexican have blended a sweet and spicy recipe to both my personal and professional sides. The aspiration to be a mental health counselor was sparked young at 13 from my experiences at Portland Impact, a community agency here in Portland where I was blessed with the opportunity to be a youth peer coordinator and was able to participate in a pilot project involving peers in family counseling. My heart then discovered the essential ingredients for my passion and meaning in work.

This professional journey would flow out into New Mexico with the lovely Sandia Mountains in the background, the smell of chile roasting, and the beam of a persistent sun. As a Lobo (wolf), I graduated with my Bachelors of Science in Family Studies and my Master of Arts in a dual track program for Community Counseling and School Counseling from the University of New Mexico. Trauma dominated my work with individuals, couples, and families who experienced struggles with substance use, challenges in the legal and social welfare systems, and navigating the paths between surviving to thriving. I transitioned to working with sexual trauma survivors in both roles of therapist and the Clinical Director at the Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico.

The years baking in the sun meant some respite to rain was much needed. My journey returned me back to the familiar background of breathtaking Mount Hood, the smell of roses, and the sweet drops of rain. I returned searching for an organization that had a vision and a mission in practice that resonated with my own values and philosophies on care. And in the slew of postings and websites, Hope and Healing stood out and drew me in. My heart knew NCC was the place to take the next leap of faith.

With more than 10 years experience in non-profits in both roles of a mental health therapist and manager, I have been blessed to walk diverse paths with inspiring and thriving travelers. These experiences have influenced my recipe that the heartbeat and pulse of mental health care is a nurturing and accepting space where trauma, vulnerability, struggles, strengths, pain, love, compassion, identity, boundaries, and growth can coexist.

Now, the shift into the role of Clinical Manager has cooked up excitement and passion in the continued work with our NCC team, board, and communities in adding more boldness to Hope and Healing. I am inspired to operate in this new role in our commitment to grow our circle of strength to more intersectional communities with our anti-oppression, trauma-informed, and presence as a protective factor. With my blending of rain and desert, I am looking forward to adding some more sugar and spice to the recipe.

-Michelle Sideroff, M.A., LPC, Clinical Manager of The Northwest Catholic Counseling Center