I’m Danica Mitchell, an LCSW and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist. I became a therapist through a series of events and choices. As a kid, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I have always been an animal lover, as my three cats Tiny, Franky, and Mama would attest. But I watched “Animal Planet” and discovered that animals do not live forever so that dream was squashed. As I grew up, I found I was always the friend people confided in and shared their secrets with. Friends often asked me for advice and sometimes even followed it, usually with pretty positive results. I always wanted to help people, so becoming a therapist seems an obvious choice now, but it wasn’t always.
I got older. The question, “What do you want to be when you grow up” started to become more pressing. The 2008 recession hit, and my family lost their restaurant business. This focused my mind on “recession-proof” careers, but at 18 I didn’t really know what these might be. I decided to go to community college to find out what I wanted to do (and save money by avoiding the high university tuition price tag). I almost majored in Art History and briefly played with the idea of becoming a linguistic anthropologist.
It was during this time that I started going to therapy, and this was a really positive experience. I began to understand the skills my therapist had and recognized I had some of them myself. I realized that this might be a way I could help people. However, I chose to practice clinical mental health through a Social Work degree which offered a variety of career paths. After getting my Associate’s Degree early I applied to universities and the rest was history. I got my Bachelor’s of Social Work at NYU and then debated grad school.
In all honesty, while I was good at academics I hated studying and essay writing. I wanted to go to graduate school immediately because once I left academia I probably wouldn’t want to come back. I did consider USC for a Master’s in clinical work, specializing in work with veterans (my father was a Navy corpsman) but ultimately I decided to go to Columbia for my Master’s, and it was there that I discovered sex therapy.
It was an elective Human Sexuality course that I thought would cover the basics of anatomy, gender, and orientation and perhaps their intersectionalities. On the first day we covered BDSM and feeders/eaters and also found out that the professor was a practicing sex therapist. It clicked instantly. After class that day I asked Professor Quinn how she got her certification, and by the end of the week had applied for the Sex Therapy Institute (now the Modern Institute of Sex Therapy). I worked on my courses concurrently.
Looking back, the sex therapy focus has always made sense. To this day I have a friend from high school and we have a long-standing tradition of giving each other sex-positive gifts. Sometimes we give art or kama sutra gingerbread cookie cutters (which she now sells annually), and even toys. My mother was always very sex-positive. I remember one day when we were in a McDonald’s drive-through, and I asked her what happens at the OBGYN. My mother, to my horror, showed me (and the poor cashier) how they collect a cell sample, using a model cervix that she happened to have in the car. (My mother was in medical sales at the time). I have always enjoyed talking about sex and sexuality, so discovering that I could help people better enjoy their sex lives and relationships was one of the easiest choices I could make.
The story of why I became a therapist is a tale of learning to understand myself, what is important to me, what my skills are, and what I ultimately enjoy doing. When I look back and see the many paths my life could have taken I feel very fortunate to have ended up in a field where I wake up each morning and look forward to work.
Would you like to talk with Danica? Contact us today to schedule a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation or to book an appointment.