Meet one of the women working to keep the islands SAFE

Stephanie Claus

SAFE San Juans Therapist Manager Stephanie Claus says she has the best job in the world.

“I have the honor and privilege to hear stories of triumph and heartache,” Claus said. “I listen and ask questions, trying to help make sense of the pain and see hope build. I help to sift through the stories, bringing deeper understanding, stepping toward peace, and being one’s best self.”

Claus, who also has a private practice office on Orcas, said she chose to become a therapist because she loves people and wants to see the whole person healed. With a dad who is a medical doctor, Claus said she worked by his side many hours in his office, in jail, in nursing homes and in patients’ homes.

“He treated their aches and pains, but there was much more to them. I wanted to know the more. I desired to know the stories behind the pain,” Claus said. “I wanted to heal the connection between the mind and body. I wanted to allow the person a whole experience, not just looking at one part of the body or mind.”

Claus chose to enter social work because she loves the flexibility and variety the job entails. She holds a Master’s in social work and is a licensed therapist.

“I love that mental health is something that we can continually work on — just like we do our physical health,” Claus said.

The people who inspire Clause the most, she explained, are Jesus and those willing to share their pain with her. Jesus, she said, cares about the whole person, restoring people in society and establishing social justice. Her patients, she added, give her the most amazing gift of being trusted to witness their pain and heartache.

For anyone interested in pursuing a career in psychotherapy, Claus suggests finding a good mentor, supervisor or therapist and doing the work of caring for yourself.

“As we continue to be self-aware, growing in our own experiences, we can help others in a deeper and more meaningful way,” Claus said.

It is important to make time for yourself, Claus explained. She added that getting enough rest, movement, good food, quiet time, breathing fresh air, being grateful and finding ways to help others are all necessary as well.

“It is only when we ourselves are taken care of that we can care for others well,” Claus said. “We all do our best. If it’s not a ‘good fit,’ keep looking for another therapist or counselor. It is important to listen to your heart and your body. It takes care of you. The ultimate goal is for you to feel and be your best self, focus on who you want to become.”

SAFE San Juans’s San Juan Island office is located at 570A Guard St. in Friday Harbor and is open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, call 360-378-8680. SAFE’s Orcas office is also open 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and is located at 296 Main St., 201, call 360-376-5979. The organization’s Lopez office is open by appointment and is located at 262 Weeks Road, C, call 460-468-3788.

You can find SAFE San Juans online at https://safesj.org/ or call one of SAFE’s 24/7 helplines, located on each of the main islands: San Juan, 360-378-2345; Orcas, 360-376-1234; and Lopez, 360-468-4567.