Posted on August 22, 2023 by Virginia Strubbe, MSW, CSW-PIP
Lutheran Family Service News
Meet Virginia Strubbe, MSW, CSW-PIP, a mental health therapist with a background in social work and working with those living with chronic and terminal illnesses. We recently sat down with her to talk about her role with Lutheran Family Service, recognizing the courage it takes to pursue mental health counseling, and the joy of walking alongside clients as they discover their own God-given gifts and strengths.
What brought you to serve with Lutheran Family Service?
The flexibility and the faith perspective. The work that I do with people is just so powerful. The opportunity to work authentically with people in that way is really neat and the people that are here at LFS are really incredible. You can really see their passion for the work of the agency.
What initially drew you to the mental health field?
I became a social worker, as most would say, [because] I wanted to help people. I think that came from a place of seeing people hurt, seeing people who were vulnerable and needing someone to help them. [Being] a therapist, what a privilege it is to enter into people’s lives at such vulnerable times and to be a light, to connect with them, make them feel safe, and kind of explore what resources we can bring on board; to alleviate suffering, I suppose, in this world where things can really be difficult sometimes.
Share a bit about your professional background.
I’ve had lots of different experiences over my career; [working with] domestic violence, child abuse, child welfare staff, adoption, and crisis pregnancy counseling. Most recently, in the medical field, I’ve worked in hospice and in oncology (with oncology certification).
One of my passions is working with people who have chronic illness, [or] have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, different cancers. That’s kind of been my world for a number of years.
Can you tell us more about your work with those experiencing chronic or terminal illness, and how that benefits individuals facing such circumstances?
Receiving the news of a terminal illness or a serious illness can really disrupt all the areas of your life. Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed, unsure of your next steps. Maybe you don’t have the resources that you need to begin to live with this condition. It can overwhelm your emotions, your thoughts.
Just being a support for people kind of navigating that, exploring “What does this mean? How do I live with this chronic condition? How do I live while having a terminal illness? What’s meaningful in my life?” [We] explore all of those things, to return to some kind of state of restored functioning. When something has entered, and been so overwhelming, how can we get back to a place of better functioning and kind of even out a bit?
How does your faith inform your practice?
[It brings] understanding that we’re humans, in our humanness and in a sinful, broken world. I’ve been given grace– how can I show grace to others? How can I use my God-given skills or talents to be in relationship with others, to help alleviate the suffering of others on this earth?
How will you live out the mission of LFS, to walk with people as God has been there for us, in your daily work?
[With] understanding that it could take a lot of courage to even enter through our doors, and meeting people right where they are, free of judgment, free of my own expectations. Walking alongside [my clients], right where we’re starting and getting to see them as someone God has created, [discovering] what their gifts and their talents are and how we can pull those things out. And by showing them grace as we walk together along the path.
What are you most looking forward to in your ministry journey with LFS?
Connecting with people, with all different types of people, hearing their story. And just seeing who God brings to me and how can I show up to work with that person. [That’s] probably is the most exciting.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
I like volunteering, mentoring other social workers, being involved in that realm. A lot of time is spent just being a mom and taking my kids to the kid things, all the activities and things like that. I like to do creative or crafting things, or reading.
On a lighter note, pizza or tacos?
Can’t go wrong with either! Both are very versatile, you can get creative.
What’s your order at a coffee shop?
I don’t get too crazy, just coffee of the day with maybe a hint of almond milk. Not too wild, but I’m pretty consistent with my coffee every day.
Virginia sees clients in-person in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and via telehealth throughout the state. Reach out today.
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