LA CENTER – After 30 years in her field, clinical social worker Pamela Webster has pretty much seen it all.
Webster has helped felons overcome addiction; seen parents through the process of adopting a child; counseled University of Alaska students at their campus student health center; assessed veterans in the state of Alaska for post traumatic stress disorder; and spent 20 years in private practice in Fairbanks, AK, where she helped clients cope with everything from depression to chronic pain issues to eating disorders.
“I still believe in what I do,” Webster says. “I still really enjoy working with people and helping them make their lives better.”
Although they enjoyed their 20-plus years living and working in Alaska, Webster and her husband moved to Vancouver in 2014 to be closer to their daughter, who was living in the Portland area. Webster considered opening a practice in Vancouver, but chose La Center instead, saying the small town appealed to her with its tight-knit community and accessibility off Interstate 5. Webster’s new therapy practice is located in a private, spacious office above the Chevron station in the heart of La Center, at 419 E. Cedar Ave., Suite 205.
“It’s a beautiful space and very private,” Webster says. “It’s actually quicker to drive to La Center from Salmon Creek than it is to drive downtown, so it’s both convenient – depending on where you live – and private.”
A licensed independent clinical social worker, Webster calls herself a “practical helper” and says she uses a variety of therapeutic techniques to help her clients work through everything from anxiety and depression to mental health issues associated with chronic pain.
Webster’s therapy techniques include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which helps people identify and change unhelpful thinking and behavior patterns, and Constructive Living therapy, which Webster calls “a Buddhist psychology approach with with an American twist” that emphasizes paying attention to the present.
“I’m attracted to Buddhist psychology generally, with its emphasis on paying attention in the moment, and acknowledging that suffering is a part of life,” Webster says. “By being mindful, you can suffer less.”
Although Webster is prepared to help any patient ages 10 and older cope with their life upheavals, she is drawn to certain kinds of counseling – food and weight issues, eating disorders and helping people are living with chronic pain or chronic health conditions. She also enjoys working with Native American as well as international populations, particularly with clients who are native Spanish or Portuguese speakers.
As a person who suffers from migraines, Webster says she understands the types of emotions that tend to accompany chronic pain.
“There can be a lot of anger,” Webster says. “People with chronic pain can often be not very nice people. I understand that feeling. They are tired of being in pain. But I actually like working with people who have chronic pain or chronic health issues.”
Likewise, Webster enjoys working with people who are battling eating disorders and issues surrounding food and weight loss.
“At my first professional job, I was drawn to working with people with eating disorders,” Webster writes on her website bio at www.pamelawwebster.com. “This continues to be a major practice area for me. Women (and, increasingly, men) are very likely to define themselves in terms of appearance and weight. They can cause themselves a great deal of unhappiness and ill-health if they over-focus on this part of their life and don’t deal with what’s really ‘eating’ at them. Learning how to self-soothe appropriately improves the quality of people’s lives.”
Webster is starting two counseling groups for people in the Clark County area – one for overeating/chronic dieting and the other for chronic pain/living with chronic health conditions. Each group will have between five and eight people, will be held in Webster’s La Center office and will include six counseling sessions.
Webster is hoping to hold the therapy sessions on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evening, depending on which day works best for the group members. If you are interested in joining either of these counseling groups, contact Webster at (360) 760-4041.
Despite her wealth of experience, education and accolades – she earned her master’s degree in social work from the University of Washington in 1982; is a licensed clinical social worker in Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington; earned an Outstanding Service Award from the Fairbanks Wellness Court in 2009; and was named “Social Worker of the Year for the Northern Region” by the National Association of Social Workers’ Alaska branch in 2011 – Webster says she is constantly reading new books and articles about therapies and innovations in the mental health field.
“I am always reading something new, (so) I’m a good therapist for clients who like learning things from books and relating them to their own situations,” Webster says. “Helping clients understand why they do the things they do, and working together to figure out how to break up the pattern – and live a more satisfying life – is what I like about doing therapy.”
To contact Webster, call her at (360) 760-4041. She accepts several insurance plans, including Regence, Premera, Lifewise, Tricare, Cascadia, CUP and Optum/United Behavioral Health. For more information about Webster, visit www.pamelawwebster.com.