Faces of Hope: Andrew Harris, Primary Therapist, MS, LPC
September 10, 2019
When a client admits to HopeWay, the members of their treatment team are dedicated to equipping the client with the resources they need to achieve their clinical goals.
Primary Therapists are integral members of this team. In addition to group therapy sessions, clients in HopeWay's Residential and Partial Hospitalization Programs are paired with a licensed therapist, like Andrew Harris, that they meet with weekly for individual therapy.
Andrew is originally from New York. He earned his bachelor's degree in psychology from James Madison University in Virginia and his masters in counseling psychology from Loyola College in Maryland. Andrew's 20-year career has allowed him to work at many places, including a psych hospital in Harrisburg, PA; Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore; a prison system in Baltimore; and, a residential eating disorder facility in Oregon. A desire to be closer to his family (including his newborn nephew), brought Andrew to Charlotte, where he served clients from an outpatient private practice. Get to know him a little better through the fun questions below!
Q: What first inspired you to pursue a career in psychology?
A: While I entered JMU as a pre-med major, I ultimately decided that was not the path for me. I had dabbled in a psychology class or two, and had always found it interesting. It was my roommate who suggested I check out a meeting for potential psychology majors, and after giving those a shot, I decided to officially change majors.
The summer before my junior year, I worked in the state hospital. It was pretty rough at first. Seeing and hearing the things I did was heartbreaking, and it was very difficult not to take those emotions home and lose sleep over them. But I learned that, even though the work was challenging, I was able to see the effect I was having on my clients. One individual drew a picture for me and wrote a nice note about how I had helped her in her recovery. Similar moments like that continued to happen, and it made all the work and emotion worth it for me.
Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: Well, I have two children - a five year old son and a five month old (teething) daughter. So, I really like to sleep when I can. But I love spending time with my family in general, whether it's playing with my son at the pool, going for bike rides, walking the dogs, or reading and snuggling with my wife and daughter. My wife and I also enjoy crime and drama television series - we watch those like they're going out of style.
Q: What would you say to encourage someone who is thinking about HopeWay?
A: First of all, I think it takes a lot of strength and courage to ask for help. There are a lot of people dealing with mental health issues; I would even venture to say most people in some degree or another. But as scary as it is, treatment is very rewarding and validating. Most people who have the strength to walk through our front doors, even though it's scary, find that they're not alone. They form a community with other clients, and that's powerful.
Q: Why did you choose to work at HopeWay?
A: I had been in private practice for a while after having a history of working in residential facilities. And I missed the intensity and acuity of those facilities. I really thrive off of a fast-paced environment, and I like working on a team, like our treatment team at HopeWay. This is such an impactful approach.
It was actually Karen Ortiz, one of HopeWay's Outreach Specialists, who came out came to my practice to talk about HopeWay. She gave her spiel, and I emailed her the next day to ask if HopeWay was hiring. From there, she put me in touch with the HR Director, and the rest is history. I celebrated my two-year anniversary at the end of August!