This month for our Clinician Spotlight we spoke with Virginia Madden, LGPC. Her experience is informed by a variety of clinical settings, making her a truly invaluable addition to the Alpha Omega team.
Virginia joined the clinic in 2018, bringing with her a diverse background of clinical experience. She has worked with young children with emotional and behavioral challenges, adolescents and adults struggling with difficult life circumstances and parenting, and severely and persistently mentally ill adults. She has worked at a Christian outpatient psychotherapy center, a pregnancy resource center, an alternative-to-hospitalization program, and a community health center serving underprivileged adults. This has provided Virginia with a solid foundation in crisis management and proficiency in working with severe mental illness.
Background and Education
“I have always been interested in understanding what is going on in everyone’s mind and why everyone is the way that they are. That eventually developed into a desire to help people be the best they can be”
Virginia’s desire to help others is rooted in her own lived experience. During middle school, she found herself feeling the impact of moving to a new state. She went from being very confident, talkative, and outgoing to shy, isolated, and reserved. Her parents became concerned and brought her to therapy. She worked briefly with the therapist, but it was determined that nothing was wrong. In hindsight, she believes there were some core things she had to work on that continued to impact her for several years. This experience slowly developed into a passion for early intervention with children going through similar struggles. She knows what it’s like to feel depressed, anxious, and uncertain as a child and doesn’t want her clients or their parents to go through that alone.
With this in mind, it’s no surprise that Virginia chose Psychology as her college major. He education began at Belmont Abbey College, where she graduated with her B.A. in Psychology. From there she pursued an M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Regent University. During her master’s program, she did her Practicum at an inner-city counseling agency working with children and her internship at a Crisis Pregnancy Center. After graduating in 2017, Virginia started her post-graduate career by continuing her work with crisis management. In addition, she was treating clients with severe mental illness. These settings gave Virginia a wealth of experience working with children, parents, trauma, crisis, and young adults. These continue to shape her work today and have even led to a developing specialty working with Borderline Personality Disorder.
What to Expect: A Reassuring and Confident Approach
“I think a lot of people who are Christian and especially practicing Roman Catholics, feel vulnerable. They may wonder, ‘Is my therapist going to respect my beliefs and understand?’ The answer at Alpha Omega is a resounding YES!” Virginia really wanted to be part of that vision, which is what led her to join our team in 2018.
Integrating the fullness of the Catholic faith into treatment has been a central theme of Virginia’s work. She described this by saying, “I want to help clients explore their psychological challenges from a Catholic perspective, incorporate faith when appropriate, and create a safe environment that will respect their faith”. Virginia has found this to be especially pertinent when working with teenagers. She said, “A lot of teenagers have a lot of questions and concerns. They enjoy talking about these things with me because I take a non-judgmental approach and ask a lot of questions.” This approach can provide parents with an excellent resource to sort through. They can feel safe knowing that Virginia is a practicing Catholic while guiding adolescents through a tough stage.
This aspect of treatment is part of what makes Alpha Omega unique. As long as it fits with a client’s goals for treatment, we will actively incorporate elements of the faith into our interventions. Virginia recalled recently referring “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis and a YouTube video by Fr. Mike Schmitz to some of her clients.
During our interview, I was impressed with Virginia’s clear and reassuring perspective on the therapeutic process. For anyone considering therapy, she said, “I want potential clients to understand that this process can take time, but change is possible, and I’ve seen it happen. It’s important to be patient and hopeful throughout the process”. She then added, “What do you have to lose? You’re already going through so much and this could help”. Virginia explained that the process of evaluating the best approach for each unique client’s needs sometimes requires a referral to a different specialist. “We won’t take it personally or get hurt, we understand that this is an essential part of effective therapy.” These words highlight our mission of working together with clients to provide the best possible treatment and offer encouragement along the way.
For parents considering therapy, she said, “Bring your child to us at Alpha Omega Clinic, and we’ll give you our best recommendations; it’s like bringing them to the doctor, better safe than sorry.” She added, “For parents bringing their teens or younger children to therapy, I want them to understand that they’re going to have to do some work too. I will need to collaborate with parents to create consistent expectations and perhaps modify parenting strategies to match what their child needs”.
More on Training and Focus
“I’m really thankful that I can be there to help clients in their struggle. I’m able to use my expertise, knowledge, and outside perspective to guide clients through their struggles”.
Virginia is skilled in working with children, teens, parents, and young adults. When working with parents and their children she uses a combination of play therapy, parent coaching, and dialectical behavior therapy. When working with adult clients she also incorporates her training in EMDR. She has found this to be an effective and beneficial addition to her interventions, saying, “I have the training and supervised experience in EMDR. This is very helpful when clients get stuck processing certain traumatic memories. The brain can block us from making progress in this area and EMDR is one of the most painless ways to explore, process, and resolve what’s going on in those moments”.
Lastly, Virginia reflected on her role by saying, “I’m often impressed with clients in what they go through and their resilience. Being a therapist is such a humbling experience”.
Learn More or Make an Appointment
Virginia is currently accepting new clients online and in person at our Bethesda office. Learn more about her here or contact Alpha Omega Clinic if you are interested in making an appointment!