Achieving Potential through Therapeutic Insight

By Kara Aiello
Raising a daughter who lives with a disability is far from easy. My parents did the best they could as most any parent would.  As a child, I was given safety and comfort when I lived through fractures and operations. I was protected from the bumps and bruises of life that could have done me great harm at that delicate period of my life.

That protection, so important then, didn’t always benefit me as I grew up. I became more physically strong not having fractures past the age of 11, but not emotionally strong.  However, a gift from my mother did send me on a journey of growth that has helped change my life in so many ways.  

When I was in my early 20’s, I left home to begin college at Edinboro University. My parents had great hopes for me but I wasn’t ready emotionally to go away.  So I returned home, and in this low point of my life, began working with a therapist at the support and encouragement of my mother to begin my journey of change.  From this gift, I learned who I was and what I had to offer the world.

Growing up, I always thought of myself as disabled, period, but through working with a therapist began to see that this is not who I only was. I could be a dancer, a student, a social worker, a sister, daughter, aunt and simply a human being.  I also came to learn, that although I saw my sister as having a more liberated life than me that she too had her adversities to face and struggles to work through.  

But I’m still a work in progress as we all are, and I still have my walls and hurdles to get over. But working with a therapist helped me to obtain a tool, insight and wisdom to fall back on to lead me in the right direction.  And today, I have achieved some very big goals such as receiving my MSW/LSW in social work, certification in Therapeutic Recreation, continuing my love of dance and signing, and watching my love of writing blossoming in front of me.  And through my own experience of being a client, I too have a continued goal to council both as a social worker and Recreation Therapist those with disabilities in different life settings.  Living the experience, can sometimes make a most empathetic listener. 
We all have our hurdles and adversities, but it is these road blocks that make us who we really are meant to become and show us that anything is possible.

Tips for Finding an appropriate Therapist:

(Note: In my situation, I saw a psychologist for therapy but you can also see a social worker or in some cases, a life coach. There are also psychiatrists who are able to prescribe medication, if necessary.)

1. Word of mouth is always the best one. Asking friends/colleagues or even organizations specializing in people with disabilities can always be a great resource in finding someone who will be best for your personal needs.

2. Looking online for sites supporting persons with disabilities  or even support groups may be a good resource to helping you find a professional support system.

3. Once you locate a few candidates, you can always interview persons to see who would be the best to meet your needs or even contact therapeutic places to see whom they would recommend for you. 

4. But remember, even if a therapist has not had experience per say in working with someone with a disability, does not mean he or she would not be a good fit for you. My experience was very positive and the psychologist I worked with had not worked with clients with disabilities before.  People can have shared experiences that go a long way when it comes to therapeutic relationships.

In fact, there are mobileWOMEN contributors who offer various types of therapy such licensed clinical psychologists, Dr. Danielle Sheypuk and Dr Julie Ann Allender , Michele Boardman, MA in Counseling Psychology (Child and Adolescent Therapist) and life coach,, Bethany Hoppe.
For any questions or information, please e-mail the author, Kara Aiello at

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