Jeremy Johnson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and AAMFT-approved supervisor working in Tennessee. Jeremy earned a bachelor’s degree from Freed Hardeman University and a master’s from Harding University. He worked in student ministry until he decided to pursue counseling professionally. After working at several different counseling centers and agencies, Jeremy opened his own private practice, The Connection Place, in 2010. He now works with a variety of clients, specializing in adoption and attachment issues.
Jeremy became interested in the areas of attachment and childhood trauma after going through his own experiences adopting his two youngest children from China. He knows firsthand the unique style of parenting that is essential for those adopting or fostering.
“My specialty, really, is children,” he says. “I work with a lot with foster kids and adoptive families, since I experience that in my personal life as an adoptive dad.”
He relies on his advanced training in emotion-focused therapy, attachment theory, as well as his certification in Theraplay to provide support, guidance and coaching to parents and families. He is currently working through advanced-level training in Theraplay to further deepen and hone his skill sets.
“In addition to adoptive families, I also work with children facing all sorts of issues – anxiety issues, kids whose parents are divorced, behavior issues, impulse control issues,” adds Jeremy.
His favorite books he likes to recommend for work with children include The Connected Child, which focuses “kids from hard places,” as defined by author and internationally renowned child development expert Karyn Purvis, and The Whole-Brained Child, by neuroscientist Daniel J. Siegel and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson, which Jeremy believes is ideal for all families.
Personally, Jeremy remembers being on the receiving end of a rewarding, supportive supervision experience.
“She was just very gifted, experienced and knowledgeable,” Jeremy says of the now-retired therapist who supervised him. “She had a reputation for knowing everything about everything. And she was incredibly supportive and encouraging.”
He’s aware, however, that kind and wise supervisors are not always the norm, citing graduate student stories of cold, gruff supervisors.
“They say their supervisor has made them cry during supervision meetings, and not in a good way,” Jeremy says. “I never had that experience in my supervision, thankfully! I’m grateful I had a safe and encouraging experience with my supervisor while working toward licensure. And that’s what I try to create for my supervisees. I want to give them a safe place to come and grow as a therapist. I encourage them to be honest and vulnerable.”
Overall, Jeremy aims to create an environment in supervision that allows them “to struggle, to grow, to celebrate” when they are doing great work with their clients. When they leave his office, he wants them to feel like it was a positive experience.
The biggest challenge Jeremy faces in supervision is helping his supervisees handle the personal issues that so often bubble up while working toward licensure.
“I had a supervisee who had a lot happen in his personal life, everything hit him at once,” Jeremy recalls. “I want to support them through challenging times and help them get what they need to keep it from impacting their work.”
When it comes to person-of-the-therapist issues, Jeremy can see when supervisees are responding to what is being brought up for them personally in their work. He uses hunches to gently bring up what he notices and then help them work it out. He welcomes supervisee honesty and vulnerability.
Jeremy points out that humility is a great teacher, but shame is not. For this reason, he emphasizes normalizing the experience of countertransference and encourages sharing. Jeremy’s perspective on working as a supervisor can best be summed up with his feelings about the how the relationship evolves over time. “I find that in the beginning, as a supervisor, I tend to fill the role of coach, teacher and mentor. As time goes on though, we start to feel like colleagues.“
When it comes to career mentoring, Jeremy encourages his supervisees to expand their goals.
“I really encourage them to get a variety of different experiences while they are working toward licensure, so that when they do get their licensure, they’ll have an idea of a specialty,” he explains. He also offers insider information on running a private practice.
“I absolutely love being my own boss,” Jeremy says. With his office less than ten minutes from home, he’s able to balance raising three kids with running his practice. He and his wife even take turns homeschooling the children on different days.
He takes time to share how he set up his private practice, in case they ever want to move in that direction. Jeremy lets them know that it can be done and it can be done well: “You can make a living. You can support your family with that. I want to make sure I pass on what I learned through that experience.”
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