Whitcomb Terpening, MSW, LCSW-S
Founder | Lead Therapist (she/her/hers)
Why do you willingly work with suicide?
This is the first question most people ask me, so let’s just get it out of the way! I choose to work with suicide because I have been profoundly affected by suicide. I have never met anyone that works in suicide prevention that accidentally happened upon this work, and while that feels heart-wrenchingly painful when I allow myself to think about it, it is also beautiful: you will not find anyone who pursues working with suicide for any reason other than that they want to.
I understand how all-consuming suicide can be – and I also know that it doesn’t have to be. In my decade of looking suicide in the face, the most fundamental thing I’ve learned is that when suicide has an open, non-judgmental, fully-accepting space to vent, to be heard, and to be seen in all of its ugliness, suicide can lose its power.
Professionally, I am a clinical suicidologist, a clinical social worker and social work supervisor (LCSW-S), and a doctoral student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. I served as one of the founding Board members for the Behavioral Health & Suicide Prevention Task Force in Montgomery County, TX
In Texas, this means that I have a master’s degree in social work (MSW), that I have at least 3000 hours of supervised experience, that I took two long, daunting, intimidating exams to prove to the State that I’ve got this – and that I’ve taken an additional 40-hour course in clinical supervision. It also means that I’m required to do continuing education every year to ensure that I’m staying on top of my game (this is the fun part!). And it means that I’m able to be in independent practice, specializing in what I know best: suicide.
But how are you able to keep doing this work? What do you do for fun?
I love going to baseball games and on adventures to find the best coffee shops; I love on my family and chosen family every day; I practice gratitude faithfully, and I am on a mission to live an unbusy life. I am an extra big fan of well-timed puns, sarcasm that is on point, snowboarding down adrenaline-producing double blacks, live jazz music, and tattoo therapy.