Danielle Braun Kauffman graduated from Columbia in 2004 with her BA in Caregiving & Counselling. She’s a therapist with her own busy practice as well as a wife and mom to three young kids. In her “spare time” she’s also a clinical supervisor at ACTS Seminaries in Langley, helping to train new counsellors.
Tell us about your current role.
I’m the founder of Re.Pose Therapy in Abbotsford. Repose means to rest and trust. We help people access channels of healing and transformation through counselling, yoga, and essential oils.
What additional training did you pursue after your time at Columbia?
I have my MA in Marriage & Family Therapy from ACTS Seminaries and I’m credentialed as a registered clinical counsellor. I also have training in trauma-sensitive yoga.
How did you find your way into your current role?
When I graduated with my MA, I was 38 weeks pregnant. My husband took parental leave when my son was about 4 months old, and I worked in two roles. I was a play therapist at CARES Counselling & Restoration Services, as well as a family systems therapist three days a week with Langley Youth & Family services, working with young offenders and their families.
Our new house had an ideal basement set-up, with a private entrance and bathroom, so I decided to launch a private practice. It was great, because I could work in Langley 3 days per week, work with private clients in the evenings, and then stay home with my son 2 days per week.
My children are actually a big part of my journey in terms of my career. My first son was an emergency C-section, and there was lots of trauma and grief involved in his birth. In my second pregnancy, we lost the baby. My daughter Iris’ birth was also scary. But the birth of my youngest was a glorious, redemptive experience. As I worked through all that, I realized that prenatal and postnatal stress, grief, and trauma were an important area of focus for healing, and that this would be my heart and my niche as a counsellor. It was also getting hard for my husband to keep three energetic quiet when I was counselling clients in the basement.
That’s when I decided to move into my own space, at first as part of a midwifery practice. It’s been a year since I’ve launched Re.Pose on my own. Now we have several counsellors and counsellor interns, as well as yoga instructors and essential oils practitioners.
What are some ways your time at Columbia equipped you for what you’re doing now?
There are three different levels. Academically and practically speaking, it was so great to be in a college setting like this and to be able to take all the psychology courses I needed to get into the Master’s program I wanted to get into.
I was also in a lot of leadership roles while I was a student, which helped me develop skills as a leader that I’m definitely using now in running my own business.
My relationships with my profs were also huge. I’m still good friends with some of them. They helped me work through really hard questions – about theology, about healing, about life.
How does your work connect with your sense of calling?
I believe God designed us to heal and to thrive. That doesn’t mean we don’t have limitations or stuck points. I believe God made us with the resources within to be connected to who we are at our core – who we are as made in his image. But stuff gets in our way.
I know this healing journey myself. And I’ve known since I was 11 that I was meant to be a counsellor. I love to help people discover access points to healing. That’s the best part of my job. Seeing people who come into my room pretty hopeless discover there’s hope.
What do you do in a typical work week?
In the last year, I’ve gone from being a therapist to a therapist/business woman! I usually spend two long days at the office so I can be home with my kids a lot. I see between 6-7 counselling clients each of those days, and then there’s emails, meetings, and supervising interns. We’re also expanding, so I’m asking, “What difference do I want to make in this community?” and connecting with people to set up new initiatives.
What’s challenging about your job?
I don’t love admin, but I’m starting to hand that off more. One of the hardest things as a therapist – but also the most important and rewarding – is to continue to work on myself. My clients are my mirror and I have to keep looking at my own stuff. There are also tough legal issues to navigate, like when I’m figuring out the best ways to advocate for someone in a domestic violence situation.
How can someone tell if counselling is a good fit for them?
There’s all different types out of counsellors out there, but I think one thing every counsellor needs is willingness to work on themselves, to be really teachable. Something else you need is to enjoy people. I did seven summers as camp counsellor for low pay. If can invest yourself in people like that and it’s life-giving for you, you’re probably in the right place.
Any advice for someone seeking this kind of role?
Make sure you do volunteer work where you’ll experience people.