Therapists are a dime a dozen, but good ones are hard to find. It's possible to stack the odds in your favor by seeking out an elder. Historically and worldwide, elders are known to possess wisdom only time can teach. They've seen their best friends through tumultuous affairs, steered their children along the rocky road to adulthood, and fought their own personal demons long enough to become super heavyweight champions in the boxing ring of life. Their perspective is invaluable, and well worth paying for by the hour. Joanne Helterline has 25 years of family therapy under her belt, and almost as many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She started her therapy practice out of necessity. Caring for her young granddaughter while her son and daughter-in-law struggled with drugs, Joanne looked desperately for someone who worked with children of addicts, but to no avail. Off she went to Lewis & Clark College and Mt. Hood Community College, and soon pioneered a therapy group called Kids in Self-Support (KISS). Nowadays, Joanne sees most clients at her home, but still makes time to teach three classes a week at Mt. Hood. Once a month, she hosts a women's healing sweat—dedicated to the memory of her daughter—in a Native American sweat lodge on her property.
What do you love best about your work?
Without a doubt, the people. I love to see a person be able to change something in their lives that's been bothering them. I really do believe that we can change our lives.
What's the most challenging thing about your work?
The people. Quite often people come and ask me to make changes for them, but they're unwilling to do the actual work. This isn't magic.
What has your work taught you?
Patience. Patience with myself and with other people. Nothing happens overnight. Change takes time.
What do people seek you out for most often?
I do a lot of work with couples who are in recovery. I do family work. I see a few young people who come from addicted families. Then I see individuals. This last year I've been seeing a lot of Vietnam veterans, dealing with anger.
Does it wear on you, taking on other people's problems?
I had to learn a long time ago to cleanse myself at the end of the day, kind of brush everything off. I also cleanse my space by opening the door to my office and letting everything go out.
If you could give one piece of advice to everyone, what would it be?
Be kind to yourself. I don't think for the most part we are very good to ourselves. We beat ourselves up. VIVA LAS VEGAS