Local therapist works to remove stigmas around therapy

Published 9:00 am Saturday, February 11, 2023

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This week is National School Counseling Week. In recognition, the LDN is writing stories on local school counselors.

Nicole Joseph said she loves to help people succeed, and that passion led to her becoming a therapist.

“Setting out I didn’t want to be a therapist. I initially decided to be a nurse and went to nursing school but decided nursing wasn’t for me. Luckily, I had an instructor who told me I had to do what’s in my heart and follow my gut,” Joseph said. “I knew that I liked helping people and that led me back to going to school to be a counselor. I went to LaGrange College and took up clinical mental health counseling — best decision I ever made.”

As she entered the field of mental health and clinical therapy, Joseph said she noticed many people struggled with mental health because of stigmas surrounding therapy.

“A lot of times, especially in minorities, people don’t reach out for help because of the fear of being called crazy. But, it’s OK to reach out, it’s OK to ask for help. There’s nothing wrong with saying, ‘Hey, I can’t handle this myself,’” Joseph said. “I think it’s a calling to be able to deal with your own life and to take on other people’s stuff. But that is what made me want to do this, and I feel like this is something God called me to do.”

Joseph is a school-based therapist for the Callaway zone of the Troup County School System. She primarily works with Callaway High, Callaway Middle, Callaway Elementary and Franklin Forest Elementary.

She said the most impactful part of her job has been building relationships with students and seeing how they utilize coping skills she taught them.

If she wasn’t a therapist, Joseph said she would be running her business, Fresh Start Driving DUI School, full time.

“I teach defensive driving and DUI education — I enjoy it very much,” Joseph said.  “I teach DUI once a month, and I teach defensive driving twice a month. I enjoy meeting clients from all different walks of life, and they love to come in and hear me talk about everything and how it just relates to therapy and real-life skills.”

When she is not being a mental health superhero, Joseph likes to travel, watch her son play football at North Carolina A&T and serves as the head cheerleading coach for LaGrange College.