Beyond the Clinical: A Look at Our Therapists In and Out of Session: Lee
Updated: Jul 9
Sometimes it can feel like a mystery when searching for a therapist.
You read and scroll all of the websites, profiles, and clinical information, but you don’t usually get to hear from the therapist in their own words.
Bright Light Counseling Center decided to lift the veil and introduce our therapists, in their own words. Learn more about them both personally and professionally.
This month we are interviewing Lee Rogers (Catherine E. Lee), LCSW
(Nancy): What do you like to do in your free time/for fun?
(Lee): I mostly craft, read, and run. Little known fact -I actually have 2 art degrees- art and creation have been and will always be a part of my life. I am putting all projects away right now so I can finish a wall hanging that I didn't finish last year in time for the holidays. I am determined to have a sewn and sequined Santa in a camper on my wall.
I've gotten really into YA fantasy fiction over the last couple of years. I read almost every night before bed. At the end of the day I want to go into a different world for a little bit and let my imagination go wild.
My big thing, though, is trail running and hiking. I have a lot of fun hitting the trail with my dog. She doesn't seem to think going up or down hills is ever hard but she's a good listener and keeps with me. I think it's notable to say I almost always do these things alone, though, which is how I prefer it. Having time to myself is really, really important for me to recharge. When it is just me and trail (and my hydration vest, whistle, headlamp, squirrels, bugs, snakes, deer...) it stills my mind. It's like someone takes a magic eraser to my brain. All of the to-do lists, worries, and doubts float away. I get off the trail ready to take on anything.
(Nancy): Are you currently binge watching any shows?
(Lee): Yes! I love the Great British Bake Off. Each week my friend and I dish (pun intended) about how everything went and who we think will be in the finals. So far my predictions have been pretty spot on. With the exception of one person, the star baker of bread week is always in the finals...Giuseppe is on the short list. I'm also following What we do in the Shadows. It's silly, over the top, vampire fun. Throughout the week when I want something playing in the background while I'm cooking or doing a project I'll put on The Good Place, The West Wing or, currently, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
(Nancy): What kind of music is on your playlist?
(Lee): Pop music, pop music, some pop music, and pop music. Okay, okay, I do love and listen to all types of pop music (dance pop, indie pop, K-pop), but my tastes are varied. My most recent playlist has some Doja Cat, The Weekend, Shura, Lil Nas X, and Christine and the Queens. I also enjoy swing jazz. I used to swing dance and teach weekly and although I'm not dancing much these days, I still love the music. Bottom line, I love dancing so mostly anything with a good beat. At work I usually listen to lo-fi outside of sessions and put on something fun to dance to when I need a little energy boost.
(Nancy): Are you currently reading any books?
(Lee): YES! I just started book 1 in the Court of Blood and Bindings trilogy, by Lisette Marshall. I haven't read anything by this author before and I am hopeful that I will really enjoy these books.
YA fantasy fiction rarely has stand alone books. I always get sucked into a trilogy - or more. I got sucked into an 8 book series at one point. I didn't even like the last 3 books very much but I needed to know how it ended.
(Nancy): What is your favorite dish to eat?
(Lee): My favorite dish isn't one dish - it is the perfect bite of any dish. The perfect bite is the combination of each part of a dish with just the right proportions of ingredients and flavors. I love curating each bite to maximize the pleasure of eating food.
(Nancy): Where is one place you would like to travel to and why?
(Lee): Toss up between Antarctica, Italy, and Bali. All so different but all incredible places. They speak to different parts of me -adventure, art, nature. Wherever I go I want to be with people I love. There is no such thing about bad weather, just bad clothes...
(Nancy): What helps you to relax and calm your mind?
(Lee): Writing in my journal or talking with a friend really helps. Mostly I do nothing on purpose. Lay on the floor. Breathe deeply. Let myself feel my feelings without judgment.
(Nancy): What is your ideal way to spend a day off?
(Lee): Firstly, the weather would be gorgeous (70 degrees, slightly overcast, light breeze, good air quality). I wouldn't have to deal with parking or worry about how much money I'm spending.
It would start with hitting up Try Hard Coffee with DJ Dana Scully, founder of Queer Vinyl Collective, spinning sleepy morning vibes. I'd sit on the front patio, people watching, writing in my journal, and enjoying the amazing breakfast tacos and coffee. In the afternoon I'd spend time with some of my friends at Deep Eddy laying around in the shade and hopping into the water when we needed to cool off. I would get in a late afternoon solo run on town lake before heading home and getting dressed up for the night. In the evening I would get together with my best friend for dinner, dancing at Sahara Lounge to a disco set from DJ Chorizo Funk, and grabbing fancy cocktails downtown. To top it all off I'd meet up with all of my friends for a night swim. We would talk, laugh, watch the bats, and howl at the moon. *I'm not getting paid by any of the places or people listed.
(Nancy): What is your favorite place?
(Lee): When I think about the places I've been, I realize it isn't actually the place itself. It's really about the people I'm with. This sounds cheesy, but my best friends are my favorite place.
(Nancy): What was your first job?
(Lee): My first job was sacking groceries at Price Chopper - the local grocery store. I have a lot of empathy for people bringing the carts in at HEB.
(Nancy): What made you choose therapy as a career?
(Lee): By the end of undergrad my focus in and out of the classroom was on social justice. After graduation I took 2 years off to decide between going into academia for queer and gender studies or going into social work. As I kept up with college friends I noticed that those who continued in academia could only talk with other people in academia. I didn't want that. I wanted to talk with real people about real life.
My mother would tell you that she knew I would go into social work when I was in the 5th grade. Long story short, I essentially wrote a letter to the bus driver about equality for students on the bus and the bus driver changed her policy about where we could sit.
(Nancy): What do you enjoy most about being a therapist?
(Lee): The first thought that came to my head was laughing. I love those moments of connection. I remember hearing an ad on the radio for an online therapy platform and the therapists were also sharing what they enjoy most about their job. They all said things that I really love, too - "ah ha!" moments, being a witness to someone's experiences, and holding space to talk about hard stuff. When it comes down to it, it is the moments of laughter that bring moments of joy.
(Nancy): What do you think makes your standout as a therapist?
(Lee): My honesty and frankness. I'm not going to hold back or hide who I am. I will allow you space to explore and grow, and will challenge you along the way. I tell interns I work with to always stay curious and kind.
(Nancy): Why did you choose EMDR as an area of focus?
(Lee): Real talk, the only reason I did EMDR training was because I got a scholarship. All I knew was that it is highly effective in treating trauma and a lot of people were doing it. I do mostly trauma therapy, so when someone told me about a scholarship program to get EMDR training for free I thought, "Oh that'd be cool. Everyone says EMDR is amazing. I love free training." Long story short I did an application, got some reference letters, wrote an essay, got a scholarship, and here we are today.
After the first intensive weekend I totally drank the Kool-Aid. "Oh yeah!" A lot of people don't know that I actually did EMDR in training. I practiced facilitating it but I took the role of a client. It was a profound experience that I'll never forget. Seeing the impact it had on myself and others around me was incredible. I knew it was an effective treatment but woah! The things I worked through continue to have a positive effect on my life to this day.
I like that it is less dependent on words than traditional talk therapy. Words are hard. When we're upset words are even harder. It's one less barrier to doing deeper work. I believe that processing trauma is some of the most important work we can do as humans so being able to facilitate EMDR, which is so powerful, and hold space is awesome. Best. Job. Ever.
When it comes down to it, it is the moments of laughter that bring moments of joy.
(Nancy): What would you want someone who has never been to therapy to know about therapy?
(Lee): It looks like a lot of different things - it isn't always like a cartoon from the New Yorker. Therapy involves talking but also skill building, taking deep breaths, and challenging yourself. Also, change takes time. It is about little shifts along the way. You didn't go to a pottery class for the first time and make professional level work. It's something that you worked and that makes the accomplishments even more meaningful.
(Nancy): What is rewarding about working with your clients?
(Lee): Seeing their growth and change. I get so excited when things shift and change. Maybe we've been processing leaving a job and a client comes in saying they found their old resume to be revamped, or put in an application, or interviewed somewhere else, or put in their 2 weeks. So cool! Or maybe we've been working on negative self-talk and in the next session a client compliments themself. So cool! Sometimes the shift happens faster or slower than other time-no matter how "fast" or "big it is, it is awesome.
(Nancy): What have you felt most challenged by as a therapist?
(Lee): Shutting up. Sometimes a client is on the precipice of connecting the dots and I get so excited for them. I get this urge to jump in and nudge them a little but I know it's important for them to do it themself. Very don't-help-the-butterfly-out-of-cocoon situation. I have given extra focus lately on leaving extra moments of quiet before saying anything.
(Nancy): What makes being a therapist worthwhile?
(Lee): Clients opening up about intimate parts of their lives. When clients tell me that they haven’t told anyone something before and they are bringing it up in a session…woh. Being with someone while they find words to express their experiences and supporting them in processing those experiences is an honor and a privilege. Knowing that I get to be a part in their growth and transformation is an incredible feeling.
I believe that processing trauma is some of the most important work we can do as humans so being able to facilitate EMDR, which is so powerful, and hold space is awesome. Best. Job. Ever.
(Nancy): How have current events impacted how you approach therapy?
(Lee): It has had a huge impact and it has been overwhelming at times. As a queer and trans person working with queer and trans people, I'm providing therapy for people who are experiencing the same concerns, worries, and fears that I am. It is also a reminder that for some of us, the mere act of existing is an act of radical defiance. The personal is political. I am constantly working on balancing acknowledging a shared experience, remaining authentic, and keeping it clear through words and actions that no matter how many shared experiences we may have, the space is exclusively for the client. My “stuff’ doesn’t matter in sessions. I have had to level up on taking care of myself. I am so glad I already have so many self-care practices in place and that I have such supportive coworkers and friends.
Education/soap box moment: At the end of the 1960s Carol Hanisch wrote an essay entitled The Personal is Political. A similar term that had been used is the private is political. Although it began in early feminist movements, it has been used by a multitude of disenfranchised groups over time. I conceptualize it as an acknowledgement that you can trace personal experiences of oppression, hate, and harm to your position within a system of white supremacy. I want to acknowledge that the term originated in white feminism, a term now used to describe feminism that focuses on white women and fails to recognize the privilege of being white and the distinct forms of oppression that impact other disenfranchised groups, like trans people. I also think it is important to acknowledge that although I am queer and trans, I am white, cisgender/heterosexual passing, visibly able bodied, middle class, small bodied, born an American citizen, and have completed advanced education. I am dripping in privilege.
I essentially wrote a letter to the bus driver about equality for students on the bus and the bus driver changed her policy about where we could sit.
(Nancy): How do you feel about technology and its impact on therapy?
(Lee): I mostly think it is great. Therapy is so much more accessible now that telehealth is an option. So many people I work with wouldn't be able to access therapy without telehealth. However...there is a lot of misinformation on TikTok, Instagram, etc about mental health. The tips and tricks for quick results, advice about treatments and medications, ways to handle difficult situations, and invalidation of people's experiences drives me up a wall. Sometimes there is something great that a client brings to session but mostly it is awful. There is a lot of talk about if “therapy speak” that people are learning online is ruining relationships.
(Nancy): What is one common misconception about therapy that you would change, if you could? Why?
(Lee): I would challenge the idea that going to therapy makes everything better and our development happens in a clear, linear process. Our experiences don't live in a vacuum. The people in our lives and what is happening in the world are ever changing. There is no way to predict what will happen next. Therapy is a place to process what is happening, learn ways to cope, and find ways to move towards your goals. Sometimes things get "worse" before they get "better." Having a realistic idea of what going to therapy would help a lot of people stay in therapy.