Hidden within a cluster of offices in the Access and Disabilities Service Center, Pierce College faculty counselor Elizabeth (Liz) Scott offers counseling and support services for students. Though her office may be concealed, her services are anything but.
Scott is a licensed mental health counselor who provides a broad range of personal counseling in areas like test anxiety, family issues, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and crisis counseling of all kinds. One of Scott’s many interests is reading, and her passion for reading is likened to her passion for social service.
“I get to hear people tell the amazing stories of their lives,” Scott said. “They are endlessly intriguing and it always surprises me how strong and resilient people are.”
Scott has organized workshops and events to promote mental health awareness. As of winter quarter she and Deborah Bransford, faculty counselor at the Fort Steilacoom campus, organized events centered on domestic violence or intimate partner violence.
Together with Student Programs, Scott organized an event that focused more exclusively on male domestic violence, a topic that is stigmatized but no less harmful than any other kind of domestic violence.
Scott hopes to start a stress management group at Pierce College.
“It would not be a class but would teach methods of managing stress and be both informational and interactive,” Scott said. “I’d like to start it fall quarter, nobody has to come, but I’ll be there every week with my lesson planned.”
Born into a military family, Scott moved around a lot as a child to places such as Austria, Nebraska and Panama. After her father retired from the service, her family moved to Bellingham where she attended Western Washington University and received her bachelor’s degree in psychology.
At the time she attended Western, a recession had deeply affected Boeing’s employment interests within the Pacific Northwest. It became such a problem that it lead to the saying as people left, “Will the last one to leave please turn out the lights?”
She had hoped to apply her degree to work with kids, but after graduation she moved to Oregon where she got a job at Blue Cross working in their mailroom. Steadily, Scott worked her way up to an administrative position.
“Not many people had a degree, so it helped me to rise out of the mailroom,” Scott said.
She went on to work as a word processor at an engineering consulting firm, but had always felt her passion was in social service. Aiming high to be the best she could be, she volunteered to work within social service programs alongside her job the firm.
“Engineers tend to be very stable people,” Scott said, joking.
She eventually returned to Washington and received her master’s degree in counseling psychology at Saint Martin’s University.
Within her social service career, Scott has worked as a paraprofessional with crisis and sexual assault/domestic violence agencies, as well as a mental health therapist in Pierce County mental health agencies (working with children and adults) and mental health consultant to Head Start programs and child care centers in Pierce County, until she arrived at Pierce College in 2006. She applied for a temporarily open counseling position at the suggestion of her husband.
“I was familiar with Pierce for two or three years through my husband by going to plays and other events at the Fort Steilacoom campus,” Scott said.
Through the time it took Scott to become a counselor she had learned many profound lessons that she passes on to students who are at first discouraged that they may not find their dream job after graduation.
“I had gained a lot of transferrable skills, good communication and writing skills especially,” Scott said. “I now use my story to tell students that even though they may not get their dream job, my other jobs made me a better counselor by giving me rich experiences that I can relate to.”
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