UW Alumni Spotlight

Name: Johanna Wender (she/her/hers)

Major: Psychology & Sociology

Graduation Year: 2008

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/johannawender/

Current Job: Mental Health Therapist @ King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC)

Current Role Description:I provide mental health therapy to sexual assault survivors, using evidenced-based practices, at one of the largest national rape crisis centers”

How did you get started in a career in your current sector / industry?
I knew during my time at UW that I wanted to become a therapist, but recognized that I needed a break from school before beginning a graduate program. Two years after graduating from UW, I began graduate school at Seattle University, earning a Master’s in Psychology. As part of this program, I spent a year at a community mental health internship site, where I continued to work after graduation. I loved community mental health – I learned a lot very quickly, and was able to work with a range of people – and have remained in community mental health since 2011.
If you are no longer in your first position, briefly walk us through your career journey since then.
I worked in outpatient programs at my internship site and at a large community mental health organization, and met with people experiencing a range of mental health conditions. I also had the opportunity to train and supervise other therapists and graduate students. This was exciting and enjoyable work. However, my real reason for going into this field was to work with survivors of sexual assault and trauma, and after having several years of general mental health therapy under my belt, I felt ready to exclusively work with this population. I have been working at KCSARC since 2016.
What do you most enjoy about your sector / industry / job?
Mental health trauma is treatable. We have therapy that truly works and I get to see people improve their lives through therapy. It is a privilege to be a part of this journey with my clients.
How is your current career the same, or different, than what you thought it would be when you began college?
Like a lot of people who choose to become therapists, I used to love giving advice and listening to friends’ problems. I didn’t realize that being a therapist would be nothing like these experiences.
Do you have any words of advice for UW students interested in a career in your sector or industry?
Mental health is a vast field, so try to get experience in different settings, even if it’s only shadowing: hospitals, inpatient, outpatient, etc.


By Dawn Cheung
Dawn Cheung Career Coach Dawn Cheung