Business Spotlight: Hannah Fisher Counseling

Ever since high school, Hannah Fisher knew that she wanted to work in mental health care. What gives her purpose is supporting young people with her practice Hannah Fisher Counseling, specifically serving the City and County of Santa Cruz. Beyond that, she works with other mental health clinicians in the area through events like sunset sails to expand her network so she can best serve her patients and the community at large.

Hannah Fisher

We sat down with Hannah to learn a little bit more about her journey to the metal health space and her decision to focus on young people.

Choose Santa Cruz: What inspired you to work in mental health care, particularly with young people?

Hannah Fisher: I took AP Psychology in high school and it was the first subject that I ever loved learning about. I've found my sense of purpose when I'm emotionally supporting others through their life challenges. As a teen, it was difficult to watch my close friends go through significant struggles. Now as an adult and a therapist, my heart breaks for young people going through emotionally intense events without support.

How much better would our schools, communities, and local families be, if young people had supportive empowering mentors to guide them through life’s hardest moments? I've worked with a diversity of clients, however, when working with adults I found a lot of their core beliefs about their identity came from significant memories in junior high and high school, so I’m compelled to serve this specific age group of adolescents and young adults.

CSC: Why do you think mental health care for youth is so important, especially for the youth within our community?

HF: Core beliefs, emotional needs, and self awareness take root in middle school, high school, and college. This age span needs to feel seen, safe, and secure, but culture offers the opposite.

A sense of safety and security in our closest relationships is necessary in order to cultivate space to be our most authentic selves. When there is no space for or security for vulnerability, we learn to hide, cover, and protect what is most sacred on the inside. This reduces our ability to trust and rely on others. When relationships don’t maintain the sense of safety in adolescence, then a generation of young people will try to navigate the world without security. Imagine, if you’ve never lived in the confidence that you ARE seen, safe, and secure, and you spend your life making decisions that are formed by the internal sense that you’ll NEVER be seen, safe, or secure. In my counseling practice, I focus on supporting youth to help them prevent loneliness, worthlessness, and hopelessness from cementing into their adulthood.

CSC: How long have you been practicing in the mental health field and how do you continue to show up every day despite the weight you may carry from the trauma you help uncover within your patients?

HF: I started as a therapist trainee in graduate school Fall of 2017.

I’ve worked in a variety of settings from private practice to school campuses, adolescent residential, and adult residential.

Self-care is the most important discipline in order to maintain my mental wellness. This is more than just “work-life balance”; I have to actively set aside time for my own personal therapy, exercise, rest, quiet alone time, and quality time in meaningful relationships.

CSC: What do you see as the biggest misconception when it comes to mental health/therapy?

HF: That’s a tough question and depends on the lens you’re coming from. There’s a TON of misconceptions on the private practice business side of being a therapist, but I want to focus on youth. Because I work predominantly with minors, I think one big concern is the assumption that therapeutic skills and tools will solve all the students’ problems.

Hannah Fisher

Mental Health workers on board the 'Worries to the Wind' Sailing networking event.

CSC: Outside of your practice, you’re passionate about improving communication with the community and public about mental health services. What do you wish that more people knew about mental health?

HF: I wish that people knew mental health is equally as important as our physical, medical, dental, educational, social, and spiritual health. I hope that the mental health workers of Santa Cruz would collaborate as a community to help the public have better access to services.

CSC: Why is connecting with other mental health professionals important to you?

HF: Short answer, because no one therapist can do it all. We need each other.

I spend my time and energy trying to be the best I can for 12-24 year-olds with depression, anxiety, self-harm, trauma, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and history of hospitalization for suicide attempts. It’s a lot. I would rather specialize and be good in one area, than try and know a fair amount of all the areas. I need other professionals who serve other populations, so I can refer the friends, family, and community of my clients to those people. It’s important to connect with mental health professionals first because I want to vet the clinicians I’m referring clients to; people are trusting my clinical judgment, so it’s not fair to them for me to hand them to a stranger.

CSC: Recently, you chartered a sailboat with other mental health practitioners for a networking event. Why a sailboat versus a more traditional venue and what were some of the most important outcomes that came from that event?

HF: I’m so glad I can share about other mental health (MH) workers I collaborate with! ‘Worries to the Wind’ is a local nonprofit that offers their mini-catamaran to mental health workers and groups for mental health related events. I partnered with Kaila Miller at ‘Connections Santa Cruz’ and Anthony Gracia with ‘Clearview Treatment’ to create this networking event that also had a self-care component. Most mental health workers I know see at least 20 clients a day, not including meetings, trainings, and paperwork hours. You can imagine how exhausted they were by the time they came to the boat. We planned this so other mental health (MH) workers could share their passion in the field as well as settle into the weekend viewing our beautiful coastline.


Mental Health workers on board the 'Worries to the Wind' Sailing networking event.

CSC: How can other mental health professionals learn about some of the networking events you are creating?

HF: The easiest way is in Facebook groups like “Santa Cruz Mental Health Professionals”, “Santa Cruz Therapists, Coaches, Mental Health, and Allied Professionals”, and “South Bay Mental Health Professionals”. We also have a Santa Cruz CAMFT (California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists) group which other mental health professionals are welcome to join. I’m currently connecting with Santa Cruz CAMFT to promote social events for mental health professionals every few months. I’m also more than willing to meet a fellow MH worker for coffee to talk about our field; that’s how I originally started building my MH community.

Looking to connect with Hannah? You can do so here.

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