Today we’d like to introduce you to Allie Wojcik.
Hi Allie, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I actually grew up on the other side of the river, in Belleville, Illinois. I completed most of my levels of schooling there. I went to high school at Belleville West Township Highschool, where I graduated in 2014 and headed to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. I graduated from SIUe in 2018 with my Bachelor of Science in Psychology and that fall semester I headed to Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO where I went on to complete my Master of Arts in Professional Counseling.
I was always immersed in the state of Illinois and the state of Missouri. I have spent so much of my life in St. Louis. It was very much a norm in my household to work in Missouri but live in Illinois. The commute has never been a problem for me as I dealt with it all the time growing up. My mom works for Missouri Baptist Medical Center and my older sister works for BJC as well. Within the last four years, I worked alongside them for the BJC Medical group, as I was the administrative assistant for the Surgical, Burn, & Trauma Intensive Care unit at Barnes Jewish Hospital.
I worked at Barnes Jewish full time while I obtained my Master’s Degree. Last two years I worked 60-70 hour weeks balancing between my full-time job at the hospital and my full-time job as a therapist. I recently left Barnes Jewish Hospital to pursue my career as a mental health therapist, full-time. It was a job I will always cherish. I saw a lot of things, was exposed to a multitude of heartbreaking, traumatic situations, and was graced to work with some of the most brilliant people in the St. Louis area.
I’ve known since I was a teenager that I wanted to be a therapist. It was when I really struggled with my mental health as a child, that I had promised to myself I wouldn’t want anyone to feel as low as I did at that age. Over those years and into my 20s, I dealt with depression, anxiety, self-harm, & suicidal ideation. The more I went through it. the more passion I had for mental health and breaking the stigma around it. I was told by people in my inner circle to not pursue this degree. I, of course, listened to my mother, as she instructed me to at least look into a few other areas of study because she was worried I would not be successful in this line of work. I looked into pharmacy, law, speech pathology… a whole list of things. None of it sparked my interest. Not like psychology did. I knew in my gut that being a therapist, working for private practice, and helping people was what I was meant to do.
In 2020, I started my internship at Diversified Health and Wellness Center in Kirkwood, MO. Diversified Health and Wellness Center is a private practice, owned by Marsha Bradford, where the mission of the center is to provide affordable mental health care and overall wellness for the body. I learned a lot during my internship there and after graduation, I was asked to stay on as a provisionally licensed professional counselor and be supervised, by Marsha Bradford, our clinical director. I have now been working at DHWC for 2 years, where I work alongside outstanding providers and such a diverse group of clientele.
I work with adolescents and adults and have multiple areas I take interest in. I work with those who have depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, ADHD, gender identity, sexuality, trauma, and more. A lot of my client population is a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. For the past year, I have run a support group for Transgender/Non-Binary Adults each week. I love being able to provide a safe place for people to be their authentic selves.
I like to provide a space for my clients where they feel empowered, are able to be vulnerable, & are able to show their truest colors whether it’s in individual sessions or group sessions. I like being able to help others feel seen and heard.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
It has not been the easiest road. Every step in my life whether it was professional or personal, has been met with resistance. I grew up in a very dysfunctional, toxic home that had created a lot of trauma. My parents provided for my sisters and me in the ways they knew how. I always had a hot meal, a roof over my head, and never had to worry about financial things. So, in that aspect, I know I am very fortunate. My mom and dad worked all hours, to live their passions, to provide… I see where I get it from. But, what came with workaholic parents… came with emotional unavailability, stress, burnout, & exhaustion.
My mom has learned over the years and is there for me in ways I’ll never be able to repay her for. My father, well our situation, fell apart a long time ago. My older sister and I went “no contact” with our dad. Our younger sister doesn’t have a stable relationship with him either. It was a toxic, dysfunctional relationship and was not healthy for anyone involved. That was and has been a very difficult moment in my life – to grieve a man you once thought you knew and have your eyes be opened to an entirely different person as you get older and older. So, I ultimately made the decision that if his love was conditional, I needed to set an example for myself and what I deserve, which is unconditional love, respect, & compassion. I knew that wouldn’t come, so there came the distance.
My mental health and the view I had of myself have been my biggest roadblock. As we are all our biggest critics, we are typically the ones who stand in our own way. My whole life, I have struggled with body image, disordered eating, depression, anxiety, & trauma. I was bullied severely due to the size of my body whether that was by my father or at school with my peers. I grew up being told to hate who I was and it saddens me that it took me to get to age 25 to actually start to love myself.
Not being a fan of your own self can really get in the way… I would question every decision I made in my life. I dealt with impostor syndrome, I questioned my ability, I questioned if I’d be liked, if I’d be judged amongst my peers. I convinced myself multiple times throughout college that I wasn’t good enough, because that’s what I was told all my life. I kept pushing through. Those tiny moments, those utterly small seconds, where you feel like you can do it, listen to it. Follow that voice, that feeling, that you are enough. Those moments – started happening more and more for me. I started believing in myself and those tiny moments have catapulted me into the best years of my life so far.
As you start separating yourself from the negative voices and start surrounding yourself with people who root for your success, who love you, who respect your boundaries, & who want to put good, positive, energy out into the world – the inner critic, it gets quieter, almost silent. It isn’t as loud anymore – at least not for me.. because I took my voice back. I took my power back.
I have had a bumpy, rocky road. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve been met with countless challenges since I was young… too many to list. I wouldn’t change the road though because it has shaped me into who I am today. It has shaped me, professionally and personally. My life is always going to be a tad bumpy, but I know that things will always turn out okay. I have a solid group of people in my corner. I have incredible colleagues and mentors. I have a supportive, loving man in my life that puts up with me and my crazy schedule. I have an amazing group of best friends – that have supported me for 10+ years.
I have two amazing, beautiful, sisters – we are connected in so many ways and I couldn’t do life without them. I have a mom, who has challenged me, who has let me make mistakes, who have supported me in the ways she can, who has shown me strength and humility, and how to be kind to those who are not. I am who I am because of the hard, bumpy road, and the people who have walked beside me.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I work at Diversified Health and Wellness Center located in Kirkwood, MO. I work as a mental health therapist where I see a multitude of clients of varying ages. I am currently under the supervision of our clinical director, Marsha Bradford. I work with adolescents to adults on a range of things such as depression, anxiety, LGBTQIA+ issues, self-esteem, body image, etc.
I feel like the majority of my clients fall within the LGBTQIA+ community. I see a lot of transgender youth individually. Within the last year, I have written several letters of support for Hormone Replacement Therapy. For the last year, I have also run an Adult transgender/non-binary support group. It’s hosted each week for an hour and in that hour – they get to feel that sense of community they’ve been longing for.
I am so proud of the work my clients continue to put in. When things feel messy or scary – they aren’t afraid to put it out there, for us to process it and work through it together. I am proud of myself for developing and curating a safe enough space for my clients to do that. I am very proud of the work I have done so far.
I think what sets me apart is that I’m a no-BS kind of therapist. I want my clients to be real, to be raw, to be vulnerable and I’m going to give it to them straight. They expect honesty from me & that’s what I provide. I’m real with them because that’s what they deserve. I truly am a judgment-free zone and I try my very hardest to always portray that, professionally and personally. I don’t pretend like I have all the answers or that I can magically fix their problems. In this profession, you are taught to not make it about you – that session is about the client.
I agree, that my personal issues cannot come into the mix and they do not. But – I am a therapist that I will relate to you and I will disclose to you if it’s appropriate. I want my clients to know that I am human too, I struggle with mental health too, I make mistakes too, and I am working on bettering myself every day too. If I expect them to be real with me, then how can I not be real with them back?
Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
My favorite childhood memory is any Sunday that was spent at my Grandma’s pool during the summertime. As a young girl, it was the same thing every summer Sunday. My mom and older sister, Maddie, would head to the farmer’s market in the morning. We’d grab our favorites – which were usually watermelon, cantaloupe, and a big bag of cherries.
We’d head to my Grandma’s house & we kids would run straight for the pool. The adults would cut up the fruit, grab the snacks, etc. and head out there with us. It wasn’t anything special or fancy – just an above-ground pool that she had installed for my mom and her siblings were they were teenagers. We’d spend all day, playing in the water, snacking on fruit, and being carefree.
When I look back, those days were my favorite because those were the days I got to spend the entire day with the most important people in my life… the women in my life… my sister, Maddie, my aunt, Patti, my mom, Mary, and my grandmother, Frances. Maybe that’s why I’ll always cherish a girl’s day.
- Private pay sessions are $60-80
- I accept most insurance plans.
Headshot photographed by Tanner Daab