By MATTHEW KRISTOFFERSEN
Redlands Career Spotlight is a series where ETHIC News interviews a new Redlands professional every week about their job, education, daily life, and more in order to educate readers about potential careers students can pursue after high school. In the series’ sophomore issue, ETHIC had the privilege of interviewing Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Sherry Fay.
Q: What is your profession, and how long have you been working?
A: I have been a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist since 1997. For the first ten years, I worked at a clinic in Riverside called Pathways Counseling Center doing therapy for kids and couples. I then worked at a drug and alcohol center for about a year called MFI. For the last ten years, I have been in private practice on State Street in Redlands.
Q: Where did you get your education? Did you enjoy your time in college?
A: I got my undergraduate degree from La Sierra University in Riverside and my Masters in Experimental Psychology from CSU Fullerton. Afterwards, I did marketing for a Democratic political company down in Santa Monica for a few years. We marketed political candidates and polled legislation. I was about 25 when I did that, and I soon realized I didn’t like being a statistician, so I went to Loma Linda University and Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.
It was a great experience. I made really good friends with my classmates, spending a lot of time studying together. I would highly recommend college.
Q: Was becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist something you always wanted to do?
A: I did work in marketing but marketing but I always had an interest in counseling, so I got back on track with my Masters. I thought it would always be a good idea to be a counselor. And it helped me as a therapist to have more life experience from when I worked in marketing. Working down in Los Angeles was a nice formative experience as well.
Q: What is the hardest part of your job?
A: I hear some really painful stories and people share with me their life struggles. That’s why they come to me, to try to get unstuck. I feel really privileged to have them share with me but it’s very sad at times.
It used to be hard to disconnect. I would think about my cases a lot after work. The longer I do it the better I can separate it from my life. It doesn’t help my clients or my family to worry about it outside of work.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: I love the flexibility being in private practice. The pay is pretty good, but it’s not fabulous. I feel like I’m making a difference. I feel important. Everyone has such an interesting story once they sit down and talk with you.
Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about your line of work/education?
A: Sometimes people like to ask if I am psychoanalyzing them. I don’t think that way outside of my work. Occasionally when they find out what they do they talk more openly with me.
Q: Do you have any advice for high school students?
A: My son Drew says it best: “You’re the sum of the five people you spend the majority of your time with.” Choose wisely.
Q: What is your favorite location in Redlands?
A: The very top of Prospect Park, where the theater is. It’s very peaceful to be up there and see the entire city.