The following is an interview with Religious Studies alum, Britt Kusserow, who now has a career as an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist with a specialization in LGBTQ+ Affirmative Therapy.
What did you study while you were at Ball State?
What is your career now?
Associate Marriage and Family Therapist with a specialization in LGBTQ+ Affirmative Therapy.
What does a typical week in your position look like?
I work specifically in residential care meaning that I work with clients who live in supported housing near the same location that they attend groups, therapy, and other aspects of programming. My typical week at this point in my growth is usually Mondays – Fridays 9AM – 4PM designing and facilitating therapeutic groups and working individually with clients and their families in a therapeutic or coaching role. The best part of my week is that I have had the opportunity to design and implement programming specific to our LGBTQ+ population, as well as to help my organization ensure that best, most affirmative practice extends to our shared housing as well as in our group and therapeutic setting. So, every Friday I get the pleasure of co-facilitating “Queer Culture Group” and offering a safe/brave space for our LGBTQ+ clients to build community with one another, explore intersectional identities, study queer history, and have fun!
What are the most valuable skills you learned in your major?
As a Religious Studies major with no specified affiliation (I’ve worked in a lot of churches while remaining sincerely agnostic at heart), I learned to be curious about the experiences of others, which has been extremely valuable as I transitioned into a more specific mental health track! So often the things that hold us back can be tied to a history of invalidation, and learning to “unlearn” societal messages around communication and lean into empathy and curiosity is an ongoing process—one that makes me a better clinician and a better person.
How are the skills you learned as a Religious Studies student relevant to your career and life today?
Aside from cultivation of curiosity, having a base knowledge of several major world religions helps me approach my therapeutic work in a more holistic way. I’m able to support and seek resources for clients regardless of belief or religious association, and a little knowledge can go a long way in building rapport with a client. Additionally, I think it’s important for queer people such as myself to model that there doesn’t have to be a disconnect between being LGBTQ+ identified, and taking part in a religious tradition or spiritual practice. Regardless of who you are or what you believe, there is a religious community out there that will love and affirm you – I promise.
What is your advice to other Humanities students?
I suggest you enjoy your time and keep as broad a lens as you can when thinking about yourself and your future. People recommended to me at 18 years old that I become a social worker or a therapist, and I laughed at them. I was so certain that I was going to be a famous musician/youth minister at the time. Unraveling my identity and learning that I am made of many parts was super helpful when I found myself having quite the identity crisis when those things didn’t pan out the way I expected! I wish I had relaxed a little more when I was younger, learned what I could, and been open to a multitude of possibilities. Because trust me, the possibilities are endless.
Feel free to reach out to Britt with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out her Alignable profile.