ren elliott, ms, lpc (he/they)
As a Californian transplant to rural Missouri, I'm familiar with the concept of being "other," but for additional reasons instead of just being the "new kid" in an entirely different culture. When I was working on my BS in Psychology at Missouri Southern State University, I focused most of my schoolwork on gender identity. I wanted to be a "good ally," since I had some family members that were trans, and I wanted to learn more. When I got to graduate school at Pittsburg State University, the focus on queer studies continued, and I wanted to work with the queer and trans population in therapy. In addition, I noticed there wasn't much research on the correlation between neurodivergence and gender identity, and so I was fascinated by this new field in a totally normal way that wasn't at all an indicator there was something else going on.
Anyway, I began identifying as nonbinary in 2018 after I couldn't ignore the sneaking suspicions anymore, and I began the coming out process in 2020. In 2021, my sneaking suspicions of also being neurodivergent were confirmed in therapy - as if one identity crisis wasn't enough. I began the long, painful, but ultimately rewarding process of deconstructing who I thought I was and began to live my life more unmasked and a whole lot more authentically.
Professionally, I've been everywhere before I ultimately landed in my niche of working with queer and neurodiverse folks. I did my internship at an inpatient psychiatric unit and in an outpatient mental health facility. From there, I entered the world of substance use and co-occurring disorders, working in community mental health with both adults and adolescents. I've worked in inpatient, outpatient, and treatment court settings. Through this, I began working with trauma, as substance use and trauma are often linked, and I felt like this is more of where I belonged.
By the end of 2021, I decided to take the plunge and go from community mental health to a group practice, focusing on purely mental health and I found my niche of working with queer/trans and neurodiverse clients, and I haven't looked back.
Outside of work, I hyperfixate on Dungeons & Dragons and annoy my cats as they try their best to ignore me.