Providing accessible counseling services to underserved and never-served communities is a rewarding challenge for NBCC Foundation volunteer mentor, Dr. Pat Nation. Through her commitment to assist the underserved community of a Native American tribe in Oklahoma, Dr. Nation continues to serve as an example of what true leadership and community involvement looks like in today’s world.
Beginning her journey as a counselor in 1980, Dr. Nation has worked with a variety of clients. She has provided services to parents and children with various disabilities, been a grief counselor, worked in a private practice setting, and provided pastoral counseling. In addition, Dr. Nation advocates and promotes the creation of accessible mental health counseling for those with a variety of religious practices, ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations, professions, socioeconomic classes, and cultures.
Dr. Nation began as an NBCC Foundation mentor through the influence of one of her colleagues and friends in the counseling profession. Dr. Nation recognized the benefits of volunteering as a mentor for counselors-in-training and wanted to provide the needed guidance and support from a professional counselor’s perspective. With over 39 years of experience, Dr. Nation recognized the needs of her community as well as the needs of the entire counseling profession. Dr. Nation strongly believes being a successful counseling mentor not only comes from decades of experience in the profession but also takes an effort to connect with each mentee on an authentic and supportive level.
Dr. Nation states, “I think whenever you are working towards helping others find their path, that is very rewarding for both of you. Plus, to let someone know you are there to help them and that you can be trusted and that you care, how much more is there to offer?”
Outside of working in her community, Dr. Nation practices self-care by reading and watching mysteries, traveling, and cooking shows. Having a support system, such as her husband of 40 years as well as loving siblings, has created a supportive network Dr. Nation knows she can lean on when needed. Her family is a critical piece to her work and life balance.
Dr. Nation’s philosophy behind mentoring is grounded in honoring one’s authenticity. She believes that everyone should be aligned to serve and learn as a mentor themselves. She is aware that no mentor is perfect but that one must continue to grow as a professional to guide their current and future mentees.
“I think sometimes counselors are a bit intimidated of stepping up to be a mentor to a rising new counselor because they think they have to be a perfect mentor. Plus, many counselors don’t feel qualified. If you have been through the educational system, licensed, and been successfully counseling for a few years, you are far more qualified than you think,” says Dr. Nation.
Her own personal philosophy regarding mentoring is grounded in establishing herself as a professional resource with a “personal caring voice.” To connect with her mentees, Dr. Nation feels that listening to other counseling professionals allows her to learn more about her own professional identity. “I have been very fortunate to have good people in my life that were willing to give of their time, wisdom, and knowledge to me, and I am very grateful to each of them for their mentoring.”
Dr. Nation is so thankful that the profession of counseling is forever changing for the better. She gives credit to the new and upcoming counselors in the making for being very open and honest in their journey in this profession. Dr. Nation states, “One thing I am impressed about is the openness of those entering into this profession. New professionals are more outspoken on the issue of their own paths to their future.”