Student Spotlight

Army veteran starts counseling practice aimed at military families

February 10, 2015 by Margo Myers
Mike Tassin

Mike Tassin

From running Operation: GoodJobs at the Goodwill Olympic and Rainier Region in Tacoma, to supervising counseling students at his alma mater Brandman University, Mike Tassin is putting on yet another professional hat that may be his most rewarding: starting his own counseling practice in Lacey.

“It’s exciting,” said Tassin. “I’m working a lot of hours, but this is the dream.”

Tassin, an Army veteran, is launching the new practice, Freedom Within, to provide counseling and mental health services to military families and others.

“When I graduated from Western (Washington University), and then received my master’s from Brandman, having my own practice was always the future goal,” said Tassin. “I’m working with clients now, meeting them early in the morning or later in the afternoon outside of my Goodwill role. My motto for the practice is ‘redefine yourself.’”

Tassin is in a unique position. Not only did he serve eight years in the U.S. Army, including war-time experience in Iraq in 2003, he is now a licensed mental health counselor, earning his master’s in psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy from Brandman University. It gives him perspective other therapists might not have.

“I’ve been thinking about my ideal client,” said Tassin. “I do a lot of work with veterans but I don’t only want to be a vet therapist. I work with military service members who’ve experienced trauma, depression or anxiety, and I also enjoy working with families who need help.”

Tassin is also taking on a larger role at Goodwill, overseeing managers who are in charge of all job placements. “In addition to the Tacoma area, I’ll also get to travel to Yakima and Longview and help managers meet their numbers,” Tassin explained. He’ll continue to oversee Veteran’s Services, and the promotion is so new, he “doesn’t even yet have a name for his new role.”

While Tassin is currently putting in 60-70 hour work weeks, he’s also finding time to give back to the community, acting as a supervisor for students seeking their counseling and therapist licensing from the state.

“Students need 200 hours of clinical supervision to become a licensed marriage and family therapist, and 100 hours (of clinical supervision) to become a licensed mental health counselor,” explains Tassin. “I help them get through the process.”

Brandman’s Lacey campus director explains it makes a huge difference for students. ““After a graduate student completes their degree requirements, they have to find their way through the licensure maze,” said Dr. Margo Deegan. “Mike’s found a direct path through the licensure process, and shares that information with our students before they head off in the wrong direction.”

And there’s also the Business Advisory Council for Brandman that Tassin has recently joined. “It’s a way to bring together people from various industries and bring more awareness about the school, and also a way to learn what degrees and program are most beneficial to local businesses,” said Tassin.

In spite of the packed schedule, Tassin is happy. He’s helping veterans find meaningful jobs outside of their military service, and is helping individuals through his counseling practice. “It’s why I love therapy,” said Tassin. “Every case is so individualized. I may talk about some of the same issues, but everyone brings such different experience to our work.”

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