“This is what I’m supposed to be doing,” says Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) graduate Brianna Ripoli. The revelation came to her while she was taking the course Human Lifespan Development and Behavioral Health.
“That class was the most transformative learning experience,” she says. “I didn’t realize how much our experiences as children and infants create the map for the rest of our lives.”
Ripoli is a therapist at Water’s Edge Counseling and Healing Center in Burnsville in an intensive outpatient program. She works with young adults and adolescents with eating disorders using a family-based treatment approach. She was hired full-time after her internship, where she conducted patient intake and group and individual counseling.
“Working with young adults and adolescents is very rewarding,” she says. “I Iearn every day from the kids I work with. Your buttons are pushed all the time, and you learn a lot about yourself. But I’m in awe of some of them; they are so self aware.”
In addition, the brains of adolescents are still very much developing, making recovery seem more attainable. Which makes her feel hopeful.
Open and Evolving
Ripoli felt an immediate connection to the mental health field during her first psychology class in high school. She then majored in psychology at the University of Minnesota and later studied abroad in Thailand, where she explored different approaches—medical, spiritual, and recreational—to treating addiction in a predominantly Buddhist country.
"You have to be okay with being questioned and keeping an open mind."
After graduating in just three years, she was ready for her next challenge. She looked into various counseling and social work master's programs but found that “the IBH classes were the most clinical.” She wanted to work directly with people, not necessarily conduct research or create policy, and the IBH degree allowed her to customize her coursework to match her interests.
The program is made up of students at different career and life stages who come from a wide range of backgrounds. That diversity of ages, interests, and experiences, Ripoli believes, is a unique strength of the program.
“We could offer each other things that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise,” she says.
Ripoli believes personal growth is an essential part of being a counselor. “If you don’t want to be doing your own work and looking at your own stuff, this is not the field for you,” she says. “You have to be okay with being questioned and keeping an open mind. It’s a gift to do something every day that helps yourself.”
- Continue working on yourself.
- Spend time with people that understand your work and how draining it can be.
- Spend time with people outside of the field to help you disconnect.
- Say no to things: your time is precious.
- Human Lifespan Development and Behavioral Health with Amie DeHarpporte: “She was a great teacher.”
- Multicultural Foundations of Behavioral Health with Debra Wamsley: “An eye-opening experience.”
Brianna Ripoli is the recipient of the Quell Bridge the Gap, Julius Nolte-Harold Miller, and Mucke-Roff scholarships.