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MEEKER I “Aging successfully is about adapting and adopting,” is the way Faye Peterson describes the process she applies to enjoy each phase of life. She just turned 60 and completed her master’s degree two weeks ago. It was a dream she had held for years. At about 54 years of age, she decided to go ahead and make it happen.
Peterson worked for Colorado West Mental Health doing primarily on-call crisis work for about seven years. She moved to Meeker about nine years ago. When she first came to town she ran a bed and breakfast outside of town. Previously, she worked in the corporate world in Denver as a communications coordinator and then helped write resumes and cover sheets for people.
“It has always been about people for me,” she said.
She brings a great deal of life experience to the table along with her bachelor of science degree in communication, previously called clinical speech pathology, and a minor in psychology. She is a certified psychotherapist, a certified life coach, and is in the process of building a private practice. Her master’s degree is in professional counseling and her goal is to reach people that do not qualify for Medicaid, cannot make expensive co-payment, or simply do not have the ability to put mental health as a priority.
“There is a stigma with mental health care but it is imperative for people to be able to talk to someone,” she said. Peterson wishes to educate people on the issues realizing sometimes people do not want to burden friends with their problems and perhaps family can not offer the necessary support.
She is excited about the adventures life offers and offers a positive approach to aging and meeting life with a positive attitude.
“We have a choice in how we experience things, from depression to an image that we are in control, and everywhere in between.” She has wanted to be in counseling and working with people all her life.
With clients she makes it a point to always offer three tools they can use, a different way of thinking about things. In this somewhat simple approach, life change is inevitable. She keeps thank you letters and notes in her office at home to guide her when she needs a lift, and her idea that what she offers is not just theory but tools she has used herself, her approach very beneficial. She is adamant about the fact that her clients are her best teachers and that no one is a victim unless they choose to be.
Peterson did part of her internship at Pioneers Medical Center and at the Walbridge Wing, spending a great deal of time with older people. She continues to volunteer entire afternoons to talk with patients, spending special time with people that just want to talk. She also is a member of the United Methodist Church, and has taken photography classes where she has met some very inspirational people. She speaks highly of people like Jean Welder and Ethel Starbuck who refuse to “get old,” simply embracing the new stages of their lives.
“Why can’t we all be more like that?” She said.
Peterson has always been intrigued with writing and wants to write a book one day, perhaps on aging.
“I want to work until I’m at least 80,” she stated with confidence. This is truly her mentality and she finds empowerment to be essential. In her quest to begin her private practice, she realizes having a variety of skills and options is helpful to a person, particularly in a small town. She hopes to provide workshops that are financially feasible for people to attend in this area, work with businesses and their employees and work with older people. She has been the speaker for directors of long term care facilities, focusing on empowering both the employees as well as the patients. She feels her strong point is in the transition from young adults to mature adults and into their aging years.
In this time of recession, job loss, and people often feeling like they’ve lost their identity as well, it is important to encourage the significance of mental wellness.
“It is not an illness,” she said, “The people are healthy enough to realize they can feel better.”
The stigma of mental health as an illness is part of the image of her field that she would like to change. The idea that there are tools available to help the difficult transitions and obstacles that come along. Her philosophy is very much a coaching idea, building a team-like relationship in order to best serve her clients.
Peterson is on a mission to offer mental health services to those that may not be able to afford it otherwise. She believes strongly in the importance of choices and perception. In our small community we are fortunate to have people willing to step outside the box in an effort to provide necessary services. Faye Peterson is, herself, an inspiration.