Number five of this advent’s interview countdown is beautiful Therese Bogan, consultant and therapist. Not only that, she has a thing for start-ups and a secret HMTL-coding side.
Where are you from? I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s north of Chicago, a pretty small place; small for the U.S. The town I grew up in has about 10,000 people. Before I moved to Helsinki, I lived in California for 15 years.
So for how long have you been living here? About 2 years.
So it’s your second winter? The third. I moved to Helsinki in September, because I was naive (laughs). Overall in my life I like to take a big leap and if I know that something is going to be hard, like the Helsinki winter, I’m like “okay, let’s have it”, so it wasn’t totally naive or ignorant. I knew what I was getting into but I hadn’t done a winter for a really long time.
So you’re a person that loves challenges? Yes, I would say that.
How do you like Helsinki? What I absolutely love about this city is the fact that it’s basically a world-class city in a forest. That’s a pretty incredible experience. I really appreciate that. I’ve lived in cities my whole adult life and most of the time I spent most of my weekend trying to get myself out of the city and into nature, and I don’t need to do that here in Helsinki. I have everything that I love. I have all of the art and film, the environments, like beautiful restaurants and incredible people.
Speaking of restaurants or places, do you have a favourite spot in Helsinki? I have a few. One is a guilty pleasure because it’s literally just outside of my front door. That’s why I feel guilty because I haven’t gone very far to find it. It’s this place called Krog Madame and what I love about it that they have such a beautiful environment and they really enjoy the service that they provide. It’s a lovely atmosphere and you get this feeling that everyone of the staff really likes what they’re doing.
And then I’m having a love affair with this restaurant called Pompier. It’s a volunteer firemen association in Albertinkatu and they rent out their hall to this restaurant. The food is fresh-made and just phenomenal.
What do you do for a living? I call myself a consultant here, but originally I was trained as a psychotherapist and now I still work individually with people. So it kind of looks like therapy, but it’s usually not very long-term; and I also work in companies to give workshops and coaching. So I help them with their team and their dynamic and I help them see the pieces in their culture that aren’t working.
Do you have a special life mantra? I do. Well, it’s really simple: It’s “I’m here and I’m yours.” I know, it sounds silly but it’s like this direct statement that I tell myself. And it makes me feel like I’m present, obviously. So when I say that, I just give myself up to whatever is going on in my life and I just show up and I just deal.
What have you been proud of lately? I’m really proud of the fact that even I‘ve lived here for two years, I’ve been able to stay close with few of my friends and there is two really good old friends who are having life, life is happening to them, and I’ve been able to stay close and I’m proud of that.
I guess in your profession you ask a lot of questions. Do you have a favourite one? That’s hard because there’s a lot of open-ended questions that I find really helpful, but I think my favourite one is “how does that work well for you”. Usually I ask that when somebody spent good quality time telling me how hard his or her problem really is.
I try to let them tell me as much as they possibly can, how hard and how bad and how awful their problem is and how much they are suffering and then I ask, “how is it working well for you?”, what is it about the problem that makes you feel comfortable? That usually shocks people because there is always an answer. People always know exactly where I’m pointing at. That’s their learning curve.
The older you grow, what’s getting easier for you? It’s a lot easier for me to not give a shit what people think. As risk taking as I am, I would say socially I was rather shy in a lot of ways. There are a lot of people with bolder personalities.
Since you work as a therapist, what was the worst or most awkward question someone asked you as a friend? Thankfully it has not happened in Helsinki, so I can tell it. My worst experience was when a friend of mine asked me at a party to give her and her partner couple’s therapy. Obviously there was alcohol involved, far too much for her. She made a huge scene and started asking me to help her, telling everyone that her man basically couldn’t get it up.
I can’t really imagine anything more painful. And I was still young at my profession and I did not just see that coming. And I’ve seen a lot. In the music industry, I’ve seen people do and say some stuff. But never ever have I been the subject, like somebody pointing that at me. My whole body shout down, I was melting literally and I didn’t know what I was going to do. Well, and the guy, I can’t even think about his face. I just left the room.
What is your dream? My dream is to take what I know about mental health and being a therapist, and instead of looking at people as if they have a ton of problems, to look at them as growing and I want to make programming and education about that. I’ve done it in business environments and I’ve done it in schools and I’ve done it individually with smaller companies but I want to create a more standard way to do that.
Thanks very much, Therese!