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  • Writer's pictureBright Light Counseling Center

Beyond the Clinical: A Look at Our Therapists In and Out of Session: Rian

Rian Richardson, MS, LPC, NCC

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 Rian Richardson, MS, LPC Rian is a counselor in our Chicago, IL office. She provides therapy in person as well as online to residents of Illinois.

(Nancy): What do you like to do in your free time/for fun?

(Rian): I have a lot of hobbies that tend to change, but my current obsession is playing the Sims 4. I have built up so much and added so many expansion packs to it that I have to maintain. I also love to play Zelda on my switch, until it makes me anxious. Then I have to decompress by watching some of my comfort shows or Disney films. I love How I Met Your Mother, Friends, Insecure, One Day at a Time, and a few others.

When I feel like being social, I tend to hang out with my friends. You can always find us at a new restaurant or at some random event found on Eventbrite. Recently, I went to the Adler Planetarium After Dark event, which was fun.

Lastly, and I think most importantly, I like to travel! This year I have been to Toronto and Disney World and am planning a trip to New York for this fall, then Italy and the Dominican Republic for next year.

Oh, secretly, I am a slight TikTok addict, don’t tell anyone.

(Nancy): Are you currently binge watching any shows?

(Rian): Am I binging any shows? Of course I am binging many shows. My dad keeps telling me to watch Titans, so I am in the middle of binging that, yet I am still uncertain about how I feel about it. I don’t know much about DC because I am a Marvel girlie, but this show is a little slow paced for my liking. I am always binging Greys Anatomy, and I am binging Vampire Diaries with my partner. He didn’t know that Vampire Diaries wasn’t just a love show but also a very intense Vamp show, but I can only watch it with him. Sidenote; Damon is way better than Stefan. But, I have so many other shows that are on my list to binge; The 100, The Good Place, Star Trek Discovery, and Shrinking are next in my queue.

illustration of music

(Nancy): What music is on your playlist?

(Rian): Let me start by saying, I have a playlist for literally everything: sleep, new music, flights, gym, individual artists, intros and a few more. With that being said, my playlists are eclectic to say the least. It will jump from Paramore to NeYo to Alesana really quickly. My go to playlist though is my YinYang which has songs that remind me of my partner and songs that reminds him of me. This includes: JVKE, Masego, Panic!, The Isley Brothers, Stevie Wonder, the Backstreet Boys and so much more. I just love it!

(Nancy): Are you currently reading any books?

(Rian): I love reading but I go through phases of reading and I am trying to get back into it. So I am now reading “The Last Magician” which is that series. But Storytime… one day I went to Barnes and Noble and picked up a book that caught my eye. I read the inside and back of the book to determine what number book in the series it is, I assumed it was the first one. I started reading.. It was NOT the first one. So I researched it and it was the third book of a 4 book series. Unfortunately, I am reading “The Last Magician” on my phone which isn’t as satisfying as reading the actual, tangible book but it is still a good story. Fun fact, that was not the first time I accidentally bought a book that was in the middle of the series. The Chronicles of Nick is like an 8 book series and I accidentally bought book number 5. Same situation. Twice!

(Nancy): What is your favorite dish to eat?

(Rian): Oooh I absolutely love tacos! Homemade tacos, street tacos, Mexican restaurant tacos. Al Pastor, Steak, Shrimp.. Just give me a taco. The end! Lol, my next home cooked meal will be tacos. Talking about this makes me hungry…. For tacos 🙂

tacos photo by Jeswin Thomas

(Nancy): Where is one place you would like to travel to and why?

(Rian): One place I want to visit is The Dominican Republic. My mom lived there when she was younger and my grandmother was buried there. I didn’t really get to know my grandmother so I would like to visit the place where she died and where my mom once lived. I think I will feel connected to this place considering it holds my family. And I hear it is beautiful so that’s a plus.

(Nancy): What helps you to relax and calm your mind??

(Rian): Calming my mind is a task in itself, but sitting by the lake and listening to music usually does it. It’s something about watching the water move with a soft melodic tune accompanying it just makes all the noise in my head quiet down.

Austin Howdy Mural by Florence Jones

(Nancy): What is your ideal way to spend a day off?

(Rian): I have a couple of ways to enjoy a day off; binge watching some show with my friends while eating all the snacks, or going to some fun event where there’s obviously snacks. But the best way is to travel someplace and just leave all my troubles behind, with snacks lol

(Nancy): What is your favorite place?

(Rian): Ever? Umm, I think the answer is Disney World. I get to wholeheartedly act like a kid without judgment and take in the ‘magic’ of Disney. Nothing is ever a problem at Disney World… and I embrace that notion.

(Nancy): What was your first job?

(Rian): My first job was at the movie theaters in 2009, Kerasotes (now known as AMC) when I was 16. I loved watching movies and I thought that it was the best thing to get paid to go to my, then, favorite place ever. And I stayed working there through undergrad.

The current unraveling of events helps show us how important mental health is and how the world can impact us.

(Nancy): What made you choose counseling as a career?

(Rian): Short answer: I want to help people. Longer answer: I want to aid people in finding their peace. The world is stressful and people deserve to find some sort of relief and I feel as though the best way to help is to listen and support.

hand with a light bulb hovering over it, image by: Júnior Ferreira

(Nancy): What do you enjoy most about being a therapist?

(Rian): The thing I enjoy most about being a therapist is when I have a client who has had an ‘ah ha’ moment. It is the most satisfying feeling to know that I helped someone reach a moment of clarity or they found a solution to their problem.

(Nancy): What do you think makes you stand out as a therapist?

(Rian): I think the thing that makes me stand out as a therapist is my optimism and my ability to connect with others. Part of being a therapist is helping your client feel comfortable with you and I believe I have the ability to create an open and comfortable environment. Even when walking down the street or in an elevator, I have people approach me and tell me things about themselves. It’s a blessing to be able to help give hope and support in this life.

(Nancy): What is your specialty or niche? And why?

(Rian): Though I am still figuring out my specialties, currently I am identifying it as anxiety. Anxiety, because as a person who suffers with anxiety, I know firsthand how stifling it can be and I want to be able to help clients work their way through it. Anxiety is a thing that can keep you from enjoying things in life and what is the point of living, if you aren’t enjoying it.

Chicago theater sign with hope, image by Ellery Sterling

(Nancy): What would you want someone who has never been to therapy to know about therapy?

(Rian): I would want someone who has never been to therapy to know that the therapist is there to help YOU, we are here to ensure you get the support you need, HOW you need it. So if you are nervous or scared, that’s okay and it’s normal, we are here to help ease those emotions.

(Nancy): What is rewarding about working with your clients?

(Rian): For me, the most rewarding part about being a therapist is honestly knowing that I am able to help people. I know how hard life can be, how overwhelming it is and knowing that I am at a place in which I can help people get to a life where they are happy, keeps me motivated.

(Nancy): What have you felt most challenged by as a therapist?

(Rian): So far, the thing that I find the most challenging is balancing my personal and professional life. I want to ensure that my clients feel supported but I also want to make sure I am emotionally and mentally well enough to support my clients. To do this, I need to have a clear separation of personal time and professional time and sometimes it is hard to maintain that.

(Nancy): What makes being a therapist worthwhile?

(Rian): The thing that makes being a therapist worthwhile is knowing that I am doing the best I can to help humanity as a whole. Everyone deserves to be supported however they need, and knowing I am able to provide an aspect of support makes it worthwhile.

I think the thing that makes me stand out as a therapist is my optimism and my ability to connect with others.

(Nancy): How have current events impacted how you approach therapy?

(Rian): Honestly, current events have only catered to my patience and understanding for clients. It has become more apparent that everyone is going through the thick of it in one way or another. So with all of the current concerns, my compassion and patience has only increased which is very helpful in therapy. The current unraveling of events helps show us how important mental health is and how the world can impact us.

(Nancy): How do you feel about technology and its impact on therapy?

(Rian): Though I feel technology is useful in therapy, for example, being able to meet with clients from the comfort of their homes, I am fearful of how far technology will go. I have recently heard of AI robots conducting therapy sessions and that is terrifying to me. Part of therapy is the human connection, if you take away that, how will that impact humanity? I can’t imagine it will have a positive impact because at the end of the day, not all computers cannot provide all of the support.

(Nancy): What is one common misconception about therapy that you would change, if you could? Why?

Neon sign image by Austin Chan

(Rian): The one misconception I would change about therapy is the idea that therapy is not as important as every other preventative care. I would change this because if we, as a society, start prioritizing our mental health in the same capacity as physical health, we would be better equipped to deal with the ups and downs of life. Therapy is not just for those who have severe struggles, it’s for anyone and everyone!

To learn more about Rian, click here.


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