This month for our Clinician Spotlight we spoke with Rita Wasilewski, M.S., Resident in Counseling, who brings an approach centered around hope and empowerment to Alpha Omega Clinic.
Rita is one of our newest clinicians at our Fairfax location. She has a passion for helping her clients overcome the challenges they face by using their innate strengths. Throughout the process of therapy, she strives to build her clients up and foster resilience. During our interview, I was struck by her relentless hope for and belief in the human person. This belief is rooted in her faith and trust in God’s healing power which shines through her work.
Background and Education
Rita has always had a natural gift for helping others. She recalled various experiences throughout her life when others have confided in her and shared their struggles. This helped sow the seeds of her future career. As her children got older, she began considering what she would do. Her husband was then called up for military service later in life. Although pursuing a master’s degree seemed unlikely, she found herself surrounded by military families struggling with the reality of military life. She stated, “I have so much respect and admiration for them. The way they pulled things together and made it work inspired me to want to be part of alleviating their struggles.” Her final push came from reading an article by the President of Divine Mercy University, Fr. Charles Sikorsky. She then pursued her M.S. while balancing all the responsibilities that come with family life.
Rita said she has been impressed with the reputation of Alpha Omega Clinic for over two decades. With this in mind, she described being awestruck at the opportunity to be part of the clinical team. During her onboarding, she noted the positive and supportive environment at the clinic, stating, “I came here prepared to jump right in and feel comfortable”. She believes this enables her to do her best work at the clinic which translates to a better client experience.
Rita is still discerning her niche in the field but has begun gravitating toward working with married couples. She described married couples as the “heart of the family”. This uniquely important role has instilled in her a calling to support families by helping couples strengthen their marriage. She sees this work as an essential part of interrupting and healing generational patterns of trauma and dysfunction.
A Hopeful and Realistic Approach to Therapy
“As devout Catholics, we can have this utopian idea of marriage and family life. When we don’t reach that we can think we’ve done something wrong but that’s not the case. It’s the human condition; life is messy, people are messy, and relationships are messy. That’s not a mistake, it’s how it’s supposed to be.”
As a wife and mother of eight children, Rita brings a wealth of life experience with her. This has helped her relate to the struggles of her clients, helping them feel understood and at ease. She is most grateful for her own suffering when she is meeting a client in theirs. She said, “I’m there with them. I get it, we’re there together. This is the human condition and I’m there to inspire hope.” Her life experience has helped her embody a sense of resilience and strength, providing an anchor for her clients.
Rita’s relentless hope and encouragement is a central part of her work. She truly believes in a client’s capacity to find their way through the toughest parts of life. She noted this by saying, “They probably all have many healing resources already. As a therapist, I want to shine a light, nurture, and develop what’s already there. They have what it takes but the garden needs to be tilled and nurtured.” Another essential part of her approach is normalizing and expanding the uphill battle we face as humans. She said, “Sometimes the next step is only a couple inches, but forward progress is forward progress.” She then added, “You’re more ok than you think you are. You may still have stuff to work on but that’s a lifelong journey and we are more than our struggles.”
Rita borrows her confidence from the beauty of our faith. She said, “We are comfortable with the fullness of truth which provides us with a flexibility in responding to the tough parts of life.” She recognizes the importance of integrating our faith with how we face our struggles. This balance has allowed Rita to meet her clients with a light in the darkest of places. Her dedication to this positive message provides a strong foundation for healing and growth.
A Resource to Support Growth
“The goal of therapy is to be done with therapy.”
Rita’s goal is to empower her clients by believing in them. For her, therapy is best used as a resource. Clients can come back as necessary, but she wants them to leave feeling like a whole and healthy person who is able to move forward. This perspective is rooted in her belief that a flourishing life is possible for everyone. She said the first step towards a life of flourishing takes courage; we must take the risk to grow a spark within us.
Rita’s encouraging approach meets her clients where they are. She said, “Sometimes people want to be heard and understood without even providing a solution. They just want to know someone is in the trench with them, walking alongside them.” In many ways, we want to give our clients permission to be human. Rita described experiencing this herself, stating, “Being a therapist has helped me not be so fearful of my own imperfections and limitations.” She again tied this to our faith saying, “It was good enough for God to become human; He sanctified our humanity. Failure, faults, and suffering are all part of a flourishing life. It’s not all good days, it includes the whole range of human emotion and human experience.” Rita’s blend of life experience, faith, hope, and realism cement therapy as just another resource to be used.
Learn More or Make an Appointment
Rita is currently accepting new clients online and in-person at our Fairfax office. Learn more about her here or contact Alpha Omega Clinic if you are interested in making an appointment!