As an undergrad at the University of Pittsburgh, I briefly considered becoming a counselor. However, at that time college was quite a struggle. I had ADHD and poor study skills. Graduate school did not seem achievable. I put that dream out of my head and graduated with a degree in computer science.
The ADHD contributed to poor self-esteem and issues with anxiety. I was relatively successful in my career as a software engineer. As I was given more and more responsibility I would feel more and more anxious and eat more and more food to push those feelings away.
At the age of 40 I woke up one day at 280 pounds. I am 5’ 6” with a small frame so that clearly was not a good weight for me. My back and feet hurt from the excess load. My cholesterol and blood pressure were beginning to enter into the danger zones. I was headed for an early death and decided I could not do it any more.
With the help of therapy I learned to manage the negative aspects of ADHD. I also began to see that ADHD also had strengths that I could harness to become even more successful. I studied nutrition and developed a plan of eating for myself that was healthy and started to shed the excess weight. Therapy helped me to learn to process my feelings; I no longer needed to eat to escape my feelings. By the age of 43, I had lost 150 pounds and have never gained that weight back.
As people saw my success with the weight loss they would seek my help. In mentoring them I rediscovered that helping people felt better than writing software. It reignited the dream I had of becoming a counselor 25 years earlier. So after much soul searching I decided to go to graduate school to become a counselor.
In 2010 I started the Professional Counseling program at Carlow University. This time college was a very different experience. With my new skills for managing my ADHD, feelings, and life in general, graduate school was relatively easy. While at Carlow I did a practicum at Gateway Rehab. This gave me a good introduction to the field of addictions. I also did an internship at Persad Center. This gave me a firm foundation in outpatient therapy as well as working with LGBT issues. After graduation I worked at TCV Community Services (formerly Turtle Creek Valley MH/MR) as an outpatient counselor. There I was exposed to vast array of mental health issues, which filled out my skill set even more. I have also continued to hone my skill set with post-graduate training. The two most significant were the Advanced Certificate Practicum at the Albert Ellis Institute and the Gestalt Training Program at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland.
In 2016 I opened my own office as Elliot Counseling. I look forward to working with you.
Mike Elliot, MSPC, NCC, LPC, CCTP