John Morrison cultivates a garden of hope for his clients | The Monroe Sun

John Morrison saw the worst days firsthand while working in a hospice, working with the elderly in care homes, listening to couples going through marital problems and trying to figure out problems for children struggling at school the root of.

Morrison, 40, who lives in Monroe with his wife, Marian, and two daughters, Hannah, 5, and Claire, 4, is using all the experience he’s gained over the years to help people with anxiety, depression and marriage Troubled clients at his new clinic “Garden of Hope Counseling”.

In July 2023, he opened an office at 755 Main Street, Suite B, Building 4, Bradford Green. Morrison will conduct telemedicine sessions but prefers to meet people in person.

“I promise I will try to listen and try to help them solve the problems they are dealing with at the time,” he said in a recent interview at his office. “Chemistry is really the focus of treatment. It’s a little like dancing partners. You’re sharing intimate details of your life. You have to feel comfortable with that person. I want them to feel heard, not judged, and guided toward develop in a positive direction.”

Morrison grew up in Stamford, and when he was 12 his family moved to the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. He later earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Cleveland State University.

“It’s kind of like a dance partner. You’re sharing intimate details of your life. You have to feel comfortable with that person. I want them to feel heard, not judged, and guided in a positive direction.” — John Morrison

“I just like helping people,” he said. “When I was younger I studied teaching and social work, thinking social work offered a wider range of opportunities for different things.”

Morrison worked in hospice while in college and immediately after graduation. He says working with patients and their families has taught him how to talk to people who are grieving in the right way.

“It’s a valuable experience in terms of when to engage, when to be quiet and listen, and generally understand what that person needs at the right moment,” Morrison said. “Just to meet that person and understand what they need right now.”

“It helps me have serious adult conversations with people,” he continued. “It gave me a certain ability to talk to people who were having marital problems. It helped me become a good therapist.”

“With compassion,” Marianne added.

Morrison said working in a hospice and later as an administrator in a nursing home gave him an early perspective on the full scope of life.

“You’ll be more grateful for your health and everything you have,” he says. “As a young man, it gave me a different perspective. A lot of people died in 10 years.”

Morrison said the nursing home industry is extremely challenging with high levels of difficulty and long working hours. After 10 years, he decided to change careers. He moved back to Connecticut in 2014, met his future wife in 2015, and married her two years later.

After living briefly in Bridgeport, the couple bought a house in Monroe in 2019. The Morrisons loved everything Monroe had to offer, from Wolfe Park to the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library.

“We love this town,” Morrison said. “Everything has been great about Monroe since we got here. Hannah is a kindergarten teacher at Farnhollow Elementary School.”

He also enjoys going home to his wife and children every day after treatment. “She helps me relax,” he said of Marianne. “She is my rock.”

“He was my rock,” Marianne said.

like a duck in water

In the top photo, John Morrison stands next to his wife Marianne. Pictured here is a bookshelf in his practice that houses classic board games.

After arriving in Connecticut, Morrison worked as a hospice social worker at Hartford Health Care, traveling to people’s homes and visiting hospital patients.

“I love doing it,” he said.

“He’s doing a great job,” Marian said. “You have been incredibly strong for patients and families who are experiencing the loss of a loved one.”

Morrison later attended Trumbull’s therapy practice.

“I applied. It sounded like something I could do,” he recalled. “I can see kids, couples and individuals. I feel like a duck to water.”

Morrison said he constantly reads research to stay on top of the latest treatment techniques to provide the best care for his clients.

“A lot of kids have problems at home and at school,” he said, adding that his class gives them the opportunity to talk to an older man who is not their parent, someone who is stable and can listen.

“I’m not a mom. I’m not a dad. I don’t share everything with their parents,” he said.

Morrison teaches chess to some children and has other popular board games on his office bookshelf, such as Clue, Sorry! ”, “Operation” and “Battleship”.

“I make them feel comfortable with snacks and games,” he said. “It’s therapy, but it’s disguised as fun. Most people open up when they see that I want to help them and that I’m not judging them.”

Based on these meetings, Morrison advises parents on the best ways to communicate with their children and get them to open up.

“Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t,” he said. “It’s about getting kids to the right place.”

Morrison said he believed distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic was harmful to children. He also recognizes the problems some children face on social media such as Instagram and TikTok.

Morrison said many parents feel pressured to buy a phone for their children when they see their children’s friends with mobile phones.

“Social media brings a lot of pressure. Screens in general are terrible,” he said.

“You don’t have full control over it. You try to keep the kids in a better place, you try to support their parents,” Morrison said. “When they entrust their children to me, I take it seriously. No matter what problem they encounter, I will try to help them.”

marriage problems

When couples come to Hope Gardens Counseling Center for help with marital problems, Morrison first meets with both clients and then meets with each client individually to delve deeper into the issues.

“Marriage issues are always 100 percent communication issues,” he said. “‘What’s the problem? Is this really your mother-in-law’s problem or is it something you didn’t address two years ago? There are also factors like cheating and substance abuse.”

While some relationships can be repaired, for others it may be too late.

“Sometimes I see a couple at their breaking point and wish they had seen me sooner,” Morrison said.

Other clients who see Morrison are people with problems, or even those who just need a healthy outlet.

“Sometimes people don’t have problems,” he said. “They just need someone to talk to about dating or work, but there’s no one to talk to or trust. They need an outlet. It’s personal. You can talk about how much you dislike your spouse, your coworkers.”

Depending on the therapy session, Morrison will develop an action plan and use techniques such as journaling, which he says can be effective.

Morrison will recommend withdrawing when things are going well for his clients, taking a break, or staying in if they feel they need to come back.

“It feels really good when a parent or an individual says, ‘I think everything is going well now.’ I want to take a break from therapy,” he said. “Ultimately, the best feeling was hearing, ‘I feel great.’ Things were going well. I no longer needed therapy to come to a conclusion.”

Morrison said a quarter of Hope Garden’s clients are couples, a quarter are children and half are individuals seeking one-on-one therapy.

The Garden of Hope is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. To make an appointment, it is best to call the office at 203-590-3377.

“I was nervous when I started my own practice,” Morrison said. “We’re fully booked and have a lot of word-of-mouth recommendations. That means it’s important to me.”

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