Welcome to USC Rehab Counseling Today's very first PodCast episode! In this episode, we interview Dr. David Leach, who is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the USC Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling program. Dr. Leach will share with us what brought him to the field, as well as his insights on the philosophy and practice of Rehabilitation Counseling. Join us as we spend time getting to know what keeps this talented and dynamic guy hanging around our program!
David Leach, PhD, LPC, CRC
Clinical Assistant Professor
USC School of Medicine
speaker 0: 0:00
Hello and welcome to USC Rehab Counseling Today in this podcast will take a look at various aspects of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine's rehabilitation counseling program. So without further ado, let's get started with today's episode. Welcome. We're glad you're here. In this episode, we'll be talking to Dr David Leach, who's a faculty member in the U. S. C. Rehabilitation counseling program. So let's jump in. Dr. Leach. Welcome. Glad you're here. Thanks. It's great to be here. Dr Walsh. Appreciate you being with us. We're gonna talk, hopefully a little bit about what brought into rehab. What keeps you sticking around and what work you're doing that your real excited about, If that's cool. Yeah, that's absolutely cool. Awesome. So let's start with that first question. What? What brought you into rehab and what got you excited about it? I think that's an interesting question. I think some folks are already rehab people. They just don't know it yet, And I think I was I would definitely put myself in that category. You know, I experienced a lot of different life circumstances and had worked in corporate America, had become a massage therapist and did that for several years and really enjoyed doing that, working with people to improve their physical functionality and all that kind of stuff because, ah, I spent most of my career as a massage therapist working for a chiropractor. But after a few years of doing that, I started to feel the wear and tear on my own body from doing it and was concerned about what that might look like in terms of a lengthy career is a massage therapist. And so, as I started thinking about what the next step might be, one of the things I noticed working for the chiropractor and seeing the same folks week after week is that people would come in and they would talk to me about, you know, their their lives and their kids and their spouses or partners in their jobs and their bosses that they didn't like all of the time and all of those sorts of things. And I really enjoyed hearing people's stories. I really enjoyed listening to folks talk about their life so that human connection is what you really is. What identified with yeah, absolutely that human connection kind of taking that and running with it. I started looking at becoming a counselor. I going to counselling when I was younger and had really found it to be a positive experience, so just kind of made sense to me. I actually sort of stumbled into rehabilitation counseling. You know, when I started to scratch the surface of it, I learned like, Okay, this is counseling. Typically, it's it's counseling focused on working with folks with disabilities. And the idea is, you know, we're not treating pathology. We're not focusing on the problems that folks were having, but focusing on the person as a whole person and taking whatever that person brings to the table, their areas of need or their areas where they're looking to grow or develop, but also their strengths. Their resource is their capabilities. All of those things that holistically make all of us and saying, How do we take the things that are going really well and capitalize on those things to maybe work with some of these areas where you're experiencing some difficulties? As I started to get into the master's classes and started to learn things, it fit with the way I see the world, and it really fit with just my ideas about people having the ability to kind of do whatever they want to do or go wherever they want to go. It's just figuring out what that path looks like for that particular person. So I guess too well that down a little bit, looking at folks in terms of possibilities rather than barriers to those possibilities. So really thinking from a strength based perspective and a whole person perspective about what's most important for you. And let's figure out how that's possible, as opposed to thinking about what limits you exactly. Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. What keeps you sticking around? Look what keeps you in it. You know, I think a big part of what keeps me in the field is when I was working as a counselor. Both department, a mental health in and in private practice, really enjoyed being part of that process, with folks of, you know, identifying and then achieving goals. And I think for me is a counselor educator. Now it's it's kind of the same thing. But being able to work with students to see them achieve their professional goals and then be able to take what they what they've learned and go do great work out in the community with whoever it is that they end up working with. So really, it kind of applying that same perspective, toe working with students. What's possible for you? What do you get excited about? Let's let's find a way to help you to achieve exactly yeah, You see, people kind of grab onto something and it becomes part of who they are and they run with it. Or that part of themselves that had not yet revealed itself reveals itself. Now you mentioned the kind of person first and wellness oriented, oriented and all of those sorts of things. I remember the first class that I had is a rehab student. The first night of school, the instructor talked about person first and person, first language and not identifying a person solely by any facet of who they were, but particularly not identifying a person by an area of difficulty in their life for an area of struggle. And I remember that was for me that was almost like getting punched upside the head with in a good way. But getting punched upside the head with this is the place I'm supposed to because this just makes so much sense and being able Teoh work with folks from that perspective from that standpoint, you know, rather than focusing on, you know, solely on pathology or solely on what a person doesn't do, well, that's I think that's one of the pieces about rehabilitation that really got me excited. You had mentioned earlier that there's rehab people and they just don't know yet. Yeah, you're a rehab person at heart. I think it just makes sense. It just clicks. Boy, have you hit that on the head had that same experience in the program and and I went t speak a sort of a senior seminar in psychology. You know, as I was talking a little bit about the philosophy of rehab and seeing people is people first and that strength based holistic perspective, I could see this person's eyes get bigger and bigger and bigger, And at the end of the seminar, this person came up and said, I need to know more about this program and I said, You know, I suspect that you're a rehab persons, you know, I I learned so much in and working towards getting my master's degree. But as much as I learned none of it ever felt foreign, none of it ever felt like this is a completely different perspective. That just doesn't make sense to me at all. You know, focusing on person first and viewing people holistically and working with folks holistically, all of that. Just the more I learned, the more I was like Oh, yeah, this is it when they find it, they know it, Yeah, I think that's one of the big positives is that within the context of learning about rehab and learning all of the things that you need to learn, students myself included when I was a student, have the option to explore, like, what do you interested in related to this? How does you know? You've got to do this Capstone project and you have to pick a population. But whatever population you choose, whatever population are interested in, that's cool. I remember really appreciating the the opportunity to todo in whatever direction made sense at a particular time, rather than being kind of narrowly pushed through the chute in tow. The great unknown what I've really grown to appreciate about rehab kind of going along with with what you had said earlier. Different things appeal to different people about rehab. It's it's not. It's not just the one thing that appeals, but it might be one aspect of it, really, really kind of liked the fire for one person and another aspect for another. And it's so It's such a broad field that that that that's possible in rehab, which is cool. Yeah, I had the exact same experience in that. When I came into the program, I knew I wanted to work with a very particular population. I wanted to work with with adults who were struggling with some sort of substance related issues, and I knew that I did not want to work with Children or adolescents right out of the gate. I had an opportunity to connect with Department of Mental Health and work primarily with Children and adolescents, and that thing that I was so sure that I didn't want to do really became part of my career path and continuing to work for Department of Mental House. But then when I was working in private practice, 99% of the folks that I worked with were Children and adolescents, and that was by choice. One of the things that that I think is is very. It's part of my world view, but I think it also fits with rehab. And it's a conversation that I have a lot with students, particular students who are in practicum. You know, often times I think, is as human beings. We like categories, and we like to be able t o put people into categories and divide things up so that the world makes sense. You know, categories and structure certainly makes sense in some ways. You know, if you went to the library and there was no structure or order, you would never find the book you were looking for. But I think when you're talking about people, those categories become a little bit sore, meaningless and may be far more damaging than one of conversations I have with students is that going into this profession, there will be people who like to create these false dichotomous relationships of councillors and clients or counselors and consumers or that sort of thing. There really is no us and them, you know, it's it's only us. We've all experienced those times in life when we're doing really well. We've all experienced those times in life when we're really struggling and we don't even know how to meet. Our own needs were just kind of lost in this maze of of options and choices. And nothing seems to be working right. And so for me, being a rehab person means removing as much as possible those false dichotomies and approaching everyone as though it's all us. Yeah, I like what you said about that. It is all us. The beauty of rehab counseling, I think, is it doesn't create those false dichotomies. It doesn't create the well. You're the client on the professional. It it's it's two people brainstorming toe. Let somebody live the life that they're passionate about and they want to live. And, uh, what a cool opportunity to be a part of that partnership. So, So last question. If you had to say words to a person considering rehab, counseling is a field. But with those words, be back. When I was in my doctoral studies taught a lot of classes to undergraduate to. We're thinking about a human services career or thinking about wanting to work with people and I always encourage folks to be formed. Consumers look into what social work is. Look into the different facets of counseling. Look into psychology, you know, if you think you might want an MD, even look into psychiatry but find what resonates with you. If you know that in a broad stroke you want to work with people, social work might present is what excites you, focusing on pathology and learning about pathology or does excite you, too. Think about maybe connecting people with the resource is, But that's kind of your primary function. Or are you the sort of person who really resonates with the idea of working with folks to a system in the process of achieving their goals, living the life that they want to doing the things that they want to do, capitalizing on their strengths and re sources and using those strengths and re sources and abilities to work through those areas where they're having difficulties? You know, if that resonates with a Nen Div Egil than I think, whether you know it or not, your rehab person. I love that you might be a rehab person. If this applies to you well Dr Leach, Thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate you being with us, and we look forward to seeing in next time on the show. Well, that was our interview with Dr David Leach. We will see you next time on the next episode of USC. Rehab Counseling today. Special thanks to Dr David Leach for his time today and to my colleagues for making all this work possible. Thanks, everybody. And we look forward to seeing on the next show. Take care. Bye bye.