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Hidden Gems: Meet Melonie Pinder of Pinder Counseling

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melonie Pinder.

Hi Melonie, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
To conceptualize my journey to becoming a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and owning my own Private Practice, I must discuss my childhood. I grew up in a middle-class Christian household affiliated with the Church of God In Christ denomination (affectionately known as C.O.G.I.C.) For the most part, my family was fairly traditional. My mother was a stay-at-home mom until my younger brother was in school and my dad was a Postal Service Worker and Assistant Pastor at our church.

At age eight, however, my parents divorced and suddenly, the traditional part of our family was gone. We were thrust into a single-parent home, transitioned from private school education to public school, and began receiving welfare benefits such as food stamps (back when it was actually colorful food stamps and not a card system today). As I watched my mother attempt to hold everything together, I recognized at a young age that her children always came first. I recall going out to eat at I Hop and my mother claiming she was not hungry when the reality was, she did not have the money to feed the three of us and herself. She not only ensured our physical needs were met, but mental needs as well. At the age of nine, she ensured we had counseling to work through the dramatic family changes. Subsequently, at the age of nine, following my therapy experience, I knew that I wanted to be a therapist.

It’s hard to describe the feeling I had during each session. As I colored, I talked about anything and everything as my therapist hung on every word.

My favorite part was she wouldn’t tell anyone what we discussed; so, I left no question unanswered and divulged information and anything extra I wanted to say. It was truly the favorite part of my week. Naturally then, when making the decision on my college focus, I majored in Psychology. However, I was “talked out of that major” after realizing the amount of time (an additional degree or two) that would be required to realize my dream. My guidance counselor explained that I would need to continue my education beyond obtaining my bachelor’s degree before I even began counseling anyone. That day, I changed my major to Marketing and did not look back at the Mental Health field until I graduated with my Marketing Degree and thought, “What did I do?” By then, I had already obtained full-time employment in my area of study so I continued the course. I couldn’t quite let go of the gnawing feeling, however, which was to return to my passion. It’s sort of like when you hear a mosquito at night and just as you’re finally about to fall asleep, the mosquito flies pass your ears again and just like that, you’re awakened once again. After a few years, I had enough of that mosquito and enrolled in college once more to begin the journey of obtaining my master’s in Mental Health Counseling.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
In short, no, it has not been a smooth road. From the time I made the decision to return to school to obtain my Masters, I had several life changes, transitions, and obstacles along the way. One positive change was that I became engaged then married to my wonderful husband. As we navigated life together, we experienced loss in our families, job transitions and relocations. Through it all, he has been my strongest supporter. Because I was working full time while obtaining my Masters and the necessary clinical hours, I had many sleepless nights, I frequently neglected my self-care and began to struggle with anxiety. I consequently took a year off from school to allow myself time to regroup and focus in order to complete my studies. This was a quick lesson I learned in the importance of self-care as well as the route to burnout. It has been a lesson I used to model my Private Practice. Once I began my practice however, there have been some bumps and I have had my share of stumbles along the way. My faith, perseverance, grit have kept me moving forward along the way.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
My decision to step out on my own and establish Pinder Counseling LLC was an organic one. I did so with two goals in mind: 1) for my client’s benefit and 2) for my benefit. It’s common for clinicians to become burned out and overloaded in the Mental Health field, and I was determined for that not to be my story. Furthermore, I have heard from so many who have frankly become repelled with the lack of attention given to their Mental Health when they did seek help.

Thus, I wanted the opportunity to work with a limited caseload of clients who would be my focus and priority. This would allow myself the flexibility to work with clients who are struggling in areas that are my focus/expertise and to assist each client in receiving a more catered approach. By catering my approach for each client, my work is more effective, and that was more important to me than the amount of clients I have. Pinder Counseling clients have also expressed appreciation for this. I never forgot the feeling I had at nine years old when the therapist not only was fully present during our session but remembered what we spoke about in previous sessions. I desired each of my clients to feel the same way and receive the same attention. I specialize in individual and couples counseling for adults. Since opening Pinder Counseling, I have hired another clinician, Alyssa Noel who carries the same values and work ethic as I. She is currently accepting new clients for individual and couples counseling.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
Someone may be surprised to know that I have met and traveled with Oprah before.

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