Dr. Bridget Asempapa, co-author of “Counselor Wellness: Caring for Self to Care for Others,” is The Patton College of Education’s August 2020 Alum of the Month.
Asempapa teaches and works as the school counseling program coordinator at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. When two colleagues approached her in 2019 with the idea of writing the book “Counselor Wellness,” she jumped at the opportunity.
“We wanted to encourage our fellow counselors and our students to approach counseling from a holistic perspective, recognizing that we play a significant role in the counseling outcome,” Asempapa said about the book, which was published in January 2020. “We can achieve efficacious treatment for our clients when we create the space and grace to be well and grow.”
“Counselor Wellness” aims to help pre-service and practicing counselors understand the importance of practicing self-care. The book includes counselor reflections, discussions, and stress-reducing strategies directed toward minimizing potential burnout, compassion fatigue, and secondary trauma.
“We can’t give what we do not have. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s so true. As part of the effective tools for counseling, we owe it to our clients to care for ourselves personally and professionally,” Asempapa said.
Asempapa, who is also a Licensed Counselor, had to be strategic in finding time to write alongside her teaching and service responsibilities. During the academic year, she designated Fridays—her day off from teaching—as her writing days. She completed the majority of her contributions to the book during her summer break.
In the year it took to write and publish “Counselor Wellness,” Asempapa said her coauthors and colleagues Dr. Karen Dickinson and Dr. Richard Parsons were great mentors.
“We kept each other accountable, but they we both so supportive! They read my chapters and provided feedback, and I did the same for them,” Asempapa said.
Asempapa graduated from Ohio University in May 2017 with a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision. After earning her doctorate, she went directly into her field and started teaching at West Chester University. Fall 2020 will mark her fourth year at the institution.
Asempapa is originally from Ghana, Africa, and has lived in the United States for 16 years. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Youngstown State University.
When Asempapa expressed interest in pursuing her doctorate, Dr. Jake Protivnak, Ohio University alumnus and counseling professor at Youngstown State University, recommended The Patton College of Education.
During her two years of doctoral studies at Ohio University, Asempapa made many worthwhile connections.
“I’m most grateful to my mentors in the Counselor Education and Supervision department and all the professors at The Patton College of Education who made an impact in my career, including Dr. Bhat, Dr. Pillay, Dr. Davis, Dr. Brooks, and Dean Middleton.
In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Asempapa is a faculty advisor for West Chester University’s Delta Tau Kappa Chapter of Chi Sigma Iota, an international counseling honor society.
“Counselor Wellness” is Asempapa’s first book, and she said she felt “accomplished and elated” when it was published in January.
“It reminded me of the feeling I had when I had my first peer-reviewed journal. It is that recognition that the idea you had was not just that…someone else thinks it’s of value to the profession,” Asempapa said.
Asempapa hopes that both practicing and pre-service counseling professionals will find the information in “Counselor Wellness” practical and applicable.
“We can and should take care of ourselves,” Asempapa said, “because we are worth it!”