Elizabeth Burgin '21 MFT Headshot

Elizabeth Burgin '21 MFT

Helping Others Succeed

With various commitments outside of school, including a whole design and photography business, Elizabeth Burgin ’21 MFT has learned how to accept that sometimes you have to just roll with the punches.

MMU: Why do you want to be in a helping profession? How did your passion for marriage and family therapy begin?

SK: I have always felt drawn to helping others succeed. My brain is also very abstract in its thinking, so I was a designer for about eight years before I decided to pursue this career. I don’t believe in black in white, which is part of my passion for marriage and family therapy, everything is a grey area depending on how you look at the situation.

I don’t believe in black in white, which is part of my passion for marriage and family therapy. Everything is a grey area depending on how you look at the situation.

Elizabeth Burgin '21 MFT

MMU: What population would you want to work with? What draws you to that population?

SK: Originally, I was set on working with women and domestic violence, but I also love the adolescent population. They are really going through a big change in that period. Ultimately that’s the population I want to work with, people going through hard changes that need support because we’ve all been there.

"I felt that Mount Mercy had a hands-on approach with a great schedule, which would allow me to glean the information I needed and do it in an accelerated way."

MMU: What attracted you to Mount Mercy’s Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy program? What was your motivation for pursuing a master’s degree?

SK: When I was pursuing the option of a master’s degree, I was between school counseling, social work, and psychology. Ultimately, I felt that Mount Mercy had a hands-on approach with a great schedule, which would allow me to glean the information I needed and do it in an accelerated way. I wanted to change my life and fulfill my own passion for directly impacting people, which is how I ended up in Mount Mercy’s therapy program.

MMU: How do you see yourself using the skills you’re building in the program? The program incorporates clinical hours—how has this impacted your experience?

SK: I see myself using all the skills I’m gaining here in practice, from the theory classes to the more specific classes that incorporate techniques, I know I’ll come across those scenarios in the therapy room. I have the opportunity to work with a second-year student gaining a few clients in the clinic, which will be instrumental in the development of my skills. It will take it from theoretical to real-life situations.

I see myself using all the skills I’m gaining here in practice, and I know I’ll come across those scenarios in the therapy room.

Elizabeth Burgin '21 MFT

MMU: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? How did you overcome it? How did Mount Mercy support you during this challenge?

SK: I would say the biggest challenge I have faced has been my own doubt. I started the program and a lot of life events were happening for me. I ultimately went to a professor and just asked about my progress and if I was doing enough to be on par with the class. That conversation was important because I needed to know what the professor thought. The professor let me know that this is just a hard transition, but I was doing what I needed to be doing to be on par with the class expectations.

MMU: What was one class or lesson that stuck with you? Why do think it impacted you? Is there a specific person or program that has made obtaining your degree easier?

SK: I remember in one class, psychopathology, we talked about opioid use disorder. I found that to be a class that was fascinating. It challenged how we think about substance use. I know in the last few years I’ve personally been noticing people out in public or on vacation that are struggling with opioid use. I think it’s fascinating that once again, America is treating the symptom and victimizing users instead of getting to our root cause or problem.

MMU: You also are a professional photographer—how do you balance school and other commitments? What helps you accomplish this?

SK: Balance is sort of a myth. I was juggling a fulltime position, photography, and a few committees when I started this program. I learned quickly I needed a priority list. I stuck with photography because it was the thing I loved most besides school. This profession allows me to be flexible and work from home more than someone dealing with an 8–5 position. I would say the biggest thing I’ve done to manage is a written calendar. I also have an e-calendar with larger commitments, but day-to-day writing down what needs to happen in a week has been instrumental in getting my work done.

"Balance is sort of a myth. I was juggling a fulltime position, photography, and a few committees when I started this program. I learned quickly I needed a priority list."

MMU: What’s one piece of advice you would give to future students?

SK: Be more accepting. This program will challenge you in many ways. Logistically, it will challenge how you juggle the commitments you have with the classes. Mentally, it will be so much information that you want to dig into and discover more. Emotionally, you might feel like you’re being battered by the hard things you’ll be learning, as well as just emotional bandwidth, sometimes you can only give so much. Overall, it will help if you just remember that this is just two years of your life, it’s so important, and that in the end, it’s worth the struggles. I know that for me right now it’s a lot of surrender. No giving in, but the kind that lets you just accept things you’re wrong about and things you’re not going to get to for a while.

I know that for me right now it’s a lot of surrender. No giving in, but the kind that lets you just accept things you’re wrong about and things you’re not going to get to for a while.

Elizabeth Burgin '21 MFT

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