Local Women: Charlene Kushler

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Helping people make positive changes in their lives is Dr. Charlene Kushler’s specialty. As a psychologist in private practice in Williamston, she works with clients from across the state to identify their issues and guide them to the best path of treatment. Kushler helps people who have problems but do not know what specifically is wrong. Through testing and clinical interviews, she diagnoses clients with ADD, eating disorders, anxiety, depression and more. Her favorite part of the job is giving clients hope. “I like it when somebody ends up having this look or this feedback to me that says, ‘I can’t believe that you figured out what’s wrong and that my life’s going to be different and things can change,’” she said. “It’s such a warm feeling inside to know that somebody’s life now is on a different track than it would have been.” Kushler became interested in psychology from her own experiences. “Growing up, I had an older sister who died in a car accident, and my mother became very depressed. I realized when I left to go to college and when I started studying psychology classes at Michigan State University that she was depressed — there were things that could have been done (to help her cope.)” After 15 years of studying at MSU, Kushler now has several degrees, including her doctorate in psychology. Early in her career, Kushler started working with abused children in Child & Family Services in Lansing. She designed a program that they are still using today, which involves placing abused children in foster homes that have been specifically trained to give the children a corrective experience. Wanting to do more, Kushler and her husband became foster parents for six years before the birth of their daughter. “I wanted to continue to work with children that had emotional problems,” she said. Psychology is a shared family interest. Her husband, Martin is a psychologist who designs community programs. Their daughter, Jessica, has her bachelor’s degree in psychology from MSU and is currently in a graduate program at University of Michigan. Kushler says there is always a need for psychologists. Within the last two years, especially, she has seen a big increase in families seeking help with stress and issues that have been brought on by economic problems. “It’s just been a huge change because of the economy, but I feel like, given as bad as it’s been, people are still hoping for a positive outcome and for things to change, and I think that’s good,” she said. Kushler encourages everyone to keep small activities in their life that help them stay optimistic no matter what. “My biggest feedback is to always add in as much positives as you can into your life. So, if there are things that you enjoy doing, try to keep them in there,” she said.
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