(By Sharon Snooks)
My desire to help others has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories involve dressing up as a nurse and taking care of whoever was sick at home, including my dolls. I realized at an early age that my heart’s desire was to tend emotional wounds.
As a young child I recall learning about the four temperaments in Tim LaHaye’s book “Spirit Controlled Temperament.” I remember friends and adults being intrigued by it when they would come and visit, and I was slightly puzzled as I thought it was normal in every household to take a temperament test and analyze your personality and behavior. As I moved into my early teen years I continued reading Christian psychology and self-help books by such authors as Dr. James Dobson, Dr. Kevin Leman and Tim LaHaye. My family home environment greatly impacted my desire to help others as I witnessed individuals coming to our home for counsel, and would often hear my dad on the phone in his study until late into the evenings. This was a familiar and comforting part of my foundational years.
During my teen years, my dad was my mentor as I helped friends experiencing family, relational, and mental health challenges, and I knew that I could depend on him to stop whatever he was doing to support me in helping others. Reflecting back, a legacy that my father provided me was his ability to apply scripture to many emotional needs of those whom God brought along our path. In Grade 11, I participated in a co-op placement at a Women’s Shelter, and this opened my eyes to a need for second-stage housing for women leaving domestic abuse situations. The lack of this type of housing often prevented women from following through on leaving abusive situations due to the 30-day time limit at the Women’s Shelter. I shared this goal with my boyfriend at the time, now husband of 28 years, and knew he was a keeper when he embraced my long-term goal of opening a second stage housing unit for women. We married in the summer prior to my last year of college, and our oldest child Matthew attended my graduation. Staying home full time raising our four children became my career, and God continued to work through me and provided opportunities for me to share the resources that He had gifted me with through Him, my family foundation, and my education.
In the next twenty years God developed my skills in ways that I could not have predicted. While anticipating writing this piece and reflecting back on God’s hand in my work, the following verse kept coming to my mind: “A person’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 CSB) When I finished secondary school my goal was to work with women in domestic violence situations, and my longer-term goal was to fund and build second-stage housing for these women and their children. Within a few years the Lord allowed circumstances in my life that provided lived life experience that no formal education could ever prepare me for. As time went on, this changed the trajectory of my personal work with individuals into focusing primarily on mental health, grief, and loss. The Lord continued to work in this way throughout the years, and in recent years He directed me to trauma focused work. I participated in extensive trauma training and began volunteering with Victim Services as a Crisis Responder and as a Team Leader. I worked with Victim Services for almost 5 years until March 2018; this was in cooperation with police, emergency service personnel and community partners to assist victims of crime and/or tragic circumstances. Working with Victim Services granted me the privilege to come alongside people during their most vulnerable moments and was an honor that I deeply value and won’t forget. In March of 2016, I officially opened my private practice - New Song Counselling, and began working as a relief Mental Health Worker at Canadian Mental Health Association. In March of 2018, I began working as an Associate Therapist with Only You Forever Communications Inc.
A requirement of belonging to the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers is to participate in on-going professional development. In addition to obtaining a grief and loss certificate, and participating in various trauma trainings, I have taken Indigenous cultural courses, crisis intervention training and most recently have enrolled in a three-year Somatic Experiencing professional trauma training program. What has brought me the most help in the study of trauma is an appreciation of our Creator! He not only designed our bodies to heal from physical wounds like a cut or a fracture, but He designed our bodies to heal from emotional and traumatic wounds that affect our neurobiology and physiology. It is fascinating, and the more I learn, the more my mind and heart are drawn to worship Him! It is a fulfilling and hope-filled work that God has called me to do, and I am incredibly grateful and humbled that God designed me to carry out His purpose in this way, all to His glory. His perfect way often involves pain and heartache and we may lose our focus for a little while, but as the years unfold His plan, my faith has been restored, and I have seen His hand guide me to the work He has prepared me for each day.
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