St. Mike’s master’s was the ideal launchpad for psychologist-author Bradie Hansen M’99

March 2, 2023
By Kaylee Sayers '23

Bradie Hansen M`99 was born and raised in New Jersey, spending her early years between Montclair and North Caldwell. After seventh grade, her family moved to Sanibel Island, FL, where she attended high school in Fort Meyers and eventually went to University of Florida in Gainesville.

Bradie Hansen

Bradie Hansen

It was not until she sought out her master’s in clinical psychology at Saint Michael’s College that she transitioned back to the Northeast. She now lives in Shelburne, VT, has been in private practice as a clinical psychologist for over 20 years, and has recently published a book alongside Pamela D. Blair, PhD, titled The Long Grief Journey.

As Hansen searched for a field of study in undergrad, she recalled her tendency for empathetic strength established early in life, saying, “I was often told that I was helpful to people when they were struggling, and I knew I had strengths in listening to others and being with people when they were in pain.” This innate skill drew her toward psychology for her undergraduate studies, and the passion she developed for it encouraged her to continue on to graduate school. In her pursuit of advancement in her training as a psychologist, Saint Michael’s College caught Hansen’s attention.

She was unsure of what kind of psychologist she wanted to be, but speaking with Professor Ronald Miller, the Clinical Psychology Master’s Program director at the time Hansen applied, was “warm and grounding.” She felt as though her conversations with him, even prior to her enrollment in the program, were highly informative, renewing, and helped her gauge the direction she wanted for her career and herself.

Hansen praised the clinical psychology graduate program at Saint Michael’s College, saying, “A lot of trust was placed in us as students to learn, grow, explore and develop ourselves.” She gained a lot from the support of faculty as well as her cohort. She felt as though attending school with a range of people from different backgrounds, ages, and walks of life taught her a lot about lived experience and made her a “more full-bodied thinker.” This was a shift in pace from her college experience at University of Florida, because, she said, “While I learned a lot at UF, I was very green.” Saint Michael’s gave her the space and opportunity to grow into the therapist that she wanted to be.

“The standards are high and there is support from faculty and staff to meet them,” Hansen said about the clinical psychology master’s program, “Students learn a tremendous amount and are expected to be stewards of their own learning.” The level of engagement that Saint Michael’s expects of its students was a pleasant, albeit unexpected, aspect of the master’s program. “All people going through the master’s program don’t become the same kind of therapist,” said Hansen. “You as a graduate student should know that you can make your time at Saint Michael’s very rich and robust if you fully engage with the material and make meaning from it for yourself.”

Today Hansen works mostly with adults in her private practice of over 20 years, and recently she published a book titled The Long Grief Journey, with co-author Pamela D. Blair, PhD.

“Pamela Blair and I met when I started a Knitting for Peace chapter in Shelburne; she is the person who asked me to co-write The Long Grief Journey with her,” said Hansen. “I learned when we met that she was a writer and had published several books, one of which I bought without knowing she was even a Vermonter.”

Taking on this project was important to Hansen not only for herself and her own experiences with grief, but for the people with whom she works. Over the years, she noticed that grief plays a large role in many of the lives of her clients. “Grieving can feel very lonely, particularly when it lasts a long time. People sort of take it underground and tend to their wounds alone,” she said. “This book is an effort to show people that they are not alone.”

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Hansen finds inspiration in people’s strength.

She has found inspiration in the strength of people she has worked with as they go through life in the face of hardship. “Sometimes, what people come to therapy for does not at first include working through grief, but inevitably that becomes a character in their story,” she said. “It’s hard to put into words how meaningful that is, and how precious that work is. It’s a tender, raw, intense time in a person’s life, and I’ve been deeply impacted by the invitation to join those who are grieving in part of their healing journey.”

It was important for Hansen to publish this book because after her own mother passed, she found the literature on grief and loss to be helpful. “I wanted to add to the dialogue,” she said. “I truly believe that anyone who grieves carries wisdom in this topic, and it’s been an absolute honor to talk to so many people who have this wisdom to share with the world.”

Hansen’s favorite part of her job today is learning and growing through her connections with her clients. “I truly love talking with people and walking the road beside them for whatever amount of time my company is useful,” she said.

“No doubt about it, I feel Saint Michael’s instilled in me a strong sense of advocacy, the capacity to sit with what is truly human and real, an ethical base for decision making, and a lifelong interest in working on myself as a person,” said Hansen. “I’m definitely a work in progress, and my time at Saint Michael’s allowed for me to see that is just fine.”

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