Getting to know us ... Jennie Sheffe MFT
This is the second in our series of posts about our Sanctuary Christian Counseling therapists. This one is about our newest addition, Jennie Sheffe, who brings a great deal to our practice. She is a military spouse, and has a passion for those who walk that path with her, she is becoming an expert in EMDR, and she is passionate about couples therapy, too. But I'll let her talk to you about it ...
Why did you become a therapist?
I went through a very difficult year when my husband deployed several years ago, and God used counseling to help me get through it. It was a game-changer for me! It opened my eyes to invisible burdens I have carried all my life. It helped me make changes that cultivated satisfaction in life and stronger relationships with my loved ones. I learned how to be authentic.
Later, when we decided to stay in this area long-term, I thought about going back to work. I had been a teacher many years prior but did not feel pulled to go back to teaching. I reflected on the kinds of volunteer experiences I had in women’s ministry and military spouse support. I thought about the way people tend to just start telling me about hard things they are going through. My experiences going through my own hard things and being a client in counseling inspired me to want to lend that helping hand to others. I felt like God was putting the puzzle pieces of my life together and showing me, “This is what I have for you to do, and I’ve been preparing you for it all your life.” I stepped out in faith and He has confirmed it at every step of the journey to become a counselor. I am beyond thrilled to now be doing this work!
What kind of therapy do you love to do?
I love to come alongside people and listen intently to their stories. I pay close attention to themes and patterns that I see repeating and look for clues to beliefs they may have about themselves that get in the way of living the best version of their life. I point out strengths and offer encouragement.
I have training in EMDR and love to incorporate EMDR into therapy. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and it is a way to locate and move stuck trauma from the past into a place in the brain where it no longer feels threatening. This is not just “major” trauma – often it is the accumulation of distressing experiences that is influencing your brain to react in unhelpful ways (anxiety, anger, over-functioning, etc.) You can read all about EMDR here: https://www.sanctuarychristiancounseling.com/emdr
I am also working through Gottman trainings to be able to more effectively help couples identify ways to strengthen their relationships. Having struggled in my own marriage and watched it transform into something strong and authentic, I have a lot of hope to lend to couples in their marriage struggles.
I have pursued training to provide telemental health. I see people both face-to-face and virtually.
I graduated from Messiah University in May 2021 with my master’s degree in Counseling (Marriage, Couple, Family track). I am a National Certified Counselor and am pursuing licensure under supervision to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
Who do you primarily help?
I help adult individuals and couples. I have a heart for women, especially military spouses. Women face unique challenges in life because we tend to take care of everyone else. We can morph into our roles: somebody’s daughter, sister, spouse, mom, friend, and along the way lose sight of what it means to just be ourselves. Our culture sends messages that there are so many things we have to do, and do well. It can get overwhelming!
Military spouses have that extra challenge of providing stability during moves and deployments. They are that solid rock that their kids look to as examples of resiliency, and their service members count on them to keep the home front under control. We are in and out of transitions so often, it is hard to find a chunk of time to devote to our own mental health. It can also feel difficult to admit we need help and accept it when it comes.
Sometimes we need help sorting out what is worth prioritizing. We need practical ideas on how to fit in time to take care of ourselves, and maybe permission to do so. We need a reality check on what the world actually expects of us. Or more importantly, what God expects of us. Sometimes we just need someone to just listen and understand. We need someone to see that the small changes we are making are brave and remind us that they have cumulative power.
Women struggling to become more of who God made them to be, to be present and healthy in their relationships, to leave a legacy of healing in their families are the women I especially love to help.
What is the most satisfying moment you’ve had as a therapist?
It is incredibly satisfying to work with a couple and see them interact with a new level of closeness and understanding. Any time I see a client applying new insights from therapy to their real life between sessions it makes my day.
What is the most disappointing moment you’ve had as a therapist?
It can feel disappointing when clients can’t see all of the good qualities and strengths that I see in them. Sometimes I want to rush the process because I want them to see themselves through my eyes. I want them to feel proud of how courageous and intelligent and normal they really are. Even though I can tell them those things (and I do!) it can take a long time for clients to believe them about themselves.
What do you think the biggest misconception about therapy?
People think that therapists are going to give advice, but instead we listen and tell you what we hear you saying. There are different schools of thought on this, but I believe that most people know, deep down, what will work best for them. They may need an objective observer to report what they are seeing and perhaps gently challenge when they see a person acting differently than they say they want to act, but clients should take an active part in guiding their therapy.
What interests do you have both in the therapy world and outside it?
I am interested in learning more about the mental health needs of military spouses. I do not want to assume that my own experience is the same as that of all military spouses. I want to research more to find out what the actual needs are so I can identify further training that will equip me to best support military spouses in those needs.
I am interested in approaches to couples work and trauma; although I have already pursued specialized training in those areas I am a firm believer that we never stop learning. When I started my EMDR training, I was fascinated by the applications of EMDR to traumatic events that we typically do not think of as trauma. I intend to pursue this avenue in depth, because I think EMDR can help people live their lives with more freedom and fulfillment.
Outside the therapy world, I spend most of my time doing things with my church and my family. I also enjoy gardening and quilting. My husband and I keep saying we are going to be hikers but we still haven’t hiked very far yet!
Tell us a little about you, personally –
I grew up in Florida and worked as a teacher for several years. I used to be fluent in sign language, and taught prekindergarten hearing-impaired, first grade, and kindergarten. Partway through my teaching career I married an Air Force guy who I’ve been following all over the world for the past 22 years. We are delighted to put roots down in PA and get used to living in our “forever house.” We have 4 kids who are all high school and college ages. They never cease to keep us very busy. Any moms out there who are in the “four under five” club; you are my people! I am also a pet-lover, with an adorable sweet dog and two cats who tolerate me.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you?
As a therapist, I am very much a “let your mess be your message” kind of person; I know what it’s like to struggle personally, with my marriage, and as a parent. I also know what it’s like to heal from all of that stuff and witness my healthy changes seeping into my relationships. I am a recovering over-thinker, so I know that type of brain well! I hate the feeling of being judged and misunderstood, so you can count on me to make a dedicated effort to truly understand what life is like to be you. Just because I have been through some “stuff” I am not going to assume that your way through it will be the same as mine; I am committed to coming alongside you and figuring out how your way through is going to unfold.
Jennie provides both face-to-face and online therapy.
Sanctuary Christian Counseling
9974 Molly Pitcher Highway, Suite 4
Shippensburg, PA 17257