This month for our Clinician Spotlight we spoke with Maggie Maxwell, MA, Resident in Counseling, who brings a warm presence and deeply Christ-centered approach to Alpha Omega Clinic.
Maggie is one of our newest clinicians at our Fairfax location. She has a passion for working with clients who are experiencing anxiety and depression, with a special focus on postpartum mothers. In her work with clients, she focuses on making room for all aspects of the human person; often integrating spiritual, emotional, and mental needs in a harmonious manner. During our interview, I was struck by her gentle and caring presence. It was clear that Maggie has a deep, personal relationship with Christ and strives to see Him in all her clients.
Background and Education
Maggie grew up in the Midwest as one of seven children. Most of her family is in the medical field, so it was natural that she would pursue some kind of career in healthcare. Her experience sitting and talking with patients as she searched for the right fit helped her development a love for slowing down and processing things with others. She attended Benedictine College, where she met her husband and received a bachelor’s in Psychology. She began her master’s degree in 2013 and took some time off after becoming a mother. She then decided to transfer schools and despite all the challenges presented in 2020, she graduated with her master’s in Education and Human Development from George Washington University. When describing her graduate school experience, she said, “There was respect, strong formation and a challenge to be the best counselor possible”. This unique program equipped her to pursue a career as either a School Counselor or Mental Health Counselor. As she graduated, her passion for helping others one-on-one led her to choose Mental Health Counseling and she is now a Resident in Counseling in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Having such a solid and integrated foundation offers Maggie’s clients a diverse perspective that integrates traditional mental health interventions, developmental psychology, and the teachings of the Catholic faith.
A Faith-Centered Approach
“The crown of thorns is God’s indication that He sees mental health needs. There are so many things under that crown that go unseen. That inner world of suffering is something that Christ wanted us to know that He sees and feels”.
Maggie has found that making room for Christ in the therapy room provides an opportunity for God to meet her clients in their struggles. She longs for her clients to experience a close relationship with God which often means helping them work through how their struggles may be blocking access to Him. She noted how scrupulosity, OCD, and postpartum depression/emotional distress can be particularly painful and often endured alone. Maggie knows that feeling alone is so hard on the human heart, yet it is so common. She emphasized this by saying “One of the common themes I keep seeing is the isolation and loneliness. I understand that perspective because all of my family members are back in the Midwest, which has led me to reach out and connect with other women and mothers. I want my clients to know they’re not alone, this is hard, and you have the strengths you need because God is here with you”. I was struck by how relevant Maggie’s words were considering the isolation we have all been through during the course of this pandemic.
It was clear that Maggie has a heart for helping mothers in particular. She described how disorienting motherhood can be, especially for new and working moms, and how important it is to validate and support mothers on their journey. Life can come at a mother fast and it can be understandably overwhelming. Motherhood is a beautiful vocation, and it was such a delight to hear Maggie talk about her experience being with mothers while they struggle through the raw spots along the way. This really highlights how having the honor and privilege of helping God heal others is a truly an amazing experience. Maggie captured this by saying, “Being a therapist has changed my relationship with Christ; I feel a new level of intimacy with Him now. Sitting with others in their inner turmoil has showed me how much Christ knows and sits with all of us in our inner turmoil”.
Putting Clients at Ease
Throughout our conversation, Maggie demonstrated the wisdom of a seasoned clinician. It was clear that she received excellent training from her mentors and graduate program. I was impressed by her ability to capture a client’s experience and offer reassurance. When discussing the pace and process of therapy she said, “Slow and steady growth means it’s not going to go away. Growth is all about going at the right pace and knowing what you’re doing along the way so you can stick with it and own that progress for the rest of your life”.
She also spoke of the fear and anxiety that can come with opening up to someone saying, “Clients may worry about what their therapist thinks of them or if they’re being judged. This makes sense because we all worry about those things but in therapy, we see Christ in our clients; we see who God is calling us to serve. Our clients are not just an embodiment of depression or anxiety but a person who has summoned the courage to show us a vulnerable part of themselves. By speaking into those parts and holding space for them, we want our clients to experience acceptance and healing”.
For anyone considering therapy, Maggie offered these words of advice: “Give it a chance and give it time. The first therapist you meet might not be the right fit and that’s ok; that doesn’t speak to you or the therapist. The therapeutic relationship is so important, and your worth as a person is best honored by finding the right fit. Practically speaking, about three to five sessions should give you a good idea of how comfortable you are with the working relationship. A really good therapist will help you find the right fit because we want what’s best for you!”. She followed up by attending to the rawness of attending therapy, “Coming to therapy isn’t owning any kind of sin or failures. Clients are not a burden; they are wanted and not alone. Therapy is an opportunity to lay down your cross for one hour a week, gain strength, and then carry on again until you no longer need to”.
I was moved by the way Maggie was able to capture how therapy transforms us, therapist and client alike, and changes the world in the process. This has been a common theme during our spotlight interviews and continues to inspire hope in places where hope has been hard to find. These words resonated with me the most and seem like a fitting way to end her spotlight: “As a therapist, my clients humble me daily. There are so many times when I wish I could share more with them and show them how much their influence in therapy can move my heart and change me and my perspective. Just by their vulnerability and ability to invite someone into their suffering, they’re changing the world. It seems like just a small conversation between the two of us and yet the effect they have on others by sharing their cross is so transformative. I’m in awe of their inner strength that can be so hard for them to see. Seeing this drives me to be the best therapist possible so I can help them discover their strength”.
Learn More or Make an Appointment
Maggie is currently accepting new clients at our Fairfax office. Learn more about her here or contact Alpha Omega Clinic if you are interested in making an appointment!