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By Maureen McMullen, Published September 29 2013

It My Job: Fargo woman offers geriatric counseling

FARGO – Before Doreen Vosburg moved back to her hometown of Fargo from San Angelo, Texas, geriatric counseling was a virtually neglected focus.

A licensed professional clinical counselor, Vosburg specializes in counseling elderly people and vulnerable adults. Recognizing the lack of counseling tailored to the needs of elderly people, she started her own practice, Vosburg Counseling.

Licensed in both North Dakota and Minnesota, Vosburg meets with clients in their home, eliminating not only emotional barriers but the transportation barriers faced by many senior citizens.

What drew you to

working in your field?

Well, I started in San Angelo, Texas, and was an adult probation officer. I always wanted to be a counselor, and they had internships open in San Angelo at a place called Senior Connections. So, I worked for them, and they went into nursing homes and provided geriatric counseling to the residents in the nursing home. I had never done that before, but I thought “OK, it’s an internship. it’s about learning.” I did that and I absolutely loved it. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Being welcomed into someone’s life is an honorable thing.

What inspired you to start your own practice?

Honestly, when my husband and I relocated back here to Fargo, I wanted to keep doing it. I love geriatric counseling, and I looked for a job and there wasn’t one. Nobody here did it. And I was just so shocked. I was like, “Wow! It’s so needed,” and no one did it. My husband said, “Why don’t you start your own business?” and I said, “Are you crazy?” I’d never done that before; I’d always worked under someone else’s umbrella. He encouraged me to start my own business, and I did. It’s not easy at all, but it’s what I love to do.

I fully believe that when you love what you do, it’s not work.

What are some common issues that elderly adults face?

A major one is depression; they’re depressed for whatever reason. Another one is life transition; if they’re moving from their home to a nursing home or to an assisted living facility, that’s really big. To move out of your house that you’ve lived in for 30 or 50 years, that’s huge.

What is a challenging part of your job?

The marketing; I didn’t go to school for marketing; I went to be a counselor. When you work under someone else’s umbrella, they do the marketing. When you work for yourself, if you don’t get out there and let people know you’re there, they’re not going to know.

Another challenging part is when I don’t get paid for my work, because they call and I don’t want to say, “OK, I’m sorry to hear you’re in tears and crisis, but how are you going to pay?” I mean, you don’t want to do that, so I say, “I don’t mean to sound insensitive to your pain, but I do need to ask, for the business portion of this, do you have insurance, or how would you pay?” And I hate that. It’s just the rapport. That part just stinks. I hate that part of counseling.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?

Seeing the improvement. Seeing them happy again, not so depressed, seeing that there’s someone who does understand what they’re going through and can help them through it. I love that. When you go in and they start coming out of their shell and start opening up, I get goose bumps and I can’t wait to go back.