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Meet the Therapist: Lauren S. Grider


Inspiration, Background & Credentials

My path to the field of counseling has been a bit unconventional. After graduating from Auburn University with a degree in Animal Science in 2004, I went on to fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian. I graduated from Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008. I then worked for 12 years as a general practice veterinarian before starting my own veterinary relief business in 2019. It was my experiences in veterinary practice – assisting grieving clients while navigating difficult medical and financial decisions, supporting colleagues through professional challenges, struggling with work-life balance, and experiencing the unique challenges of working in healthcare – that encouraged me to learn more about the mental health field.


Around this time, emerging research on the heightened mental health risks for veterinary workers combined with the tragic losses of several key veterinary figures increased my awareness of the relatively high incidence of depression, self-harm, and suicidality among veterinarians and veterinary staff. Because compassion fatigue has been implicated as a major contributor to mental health concerns in the helping fields, I completed training as a Certified Compassion Fatigue Professional in 2021. I have since completed more than 30 hours of continuing education in mindfulness techniques, compassion fatigue management, and prevention of burnout to maintain this credential. I have become a fierce advocate for healthy assertiveness, boundary setting, and mindfulness as the key elements of compassion fatigue prevention.


As my passion for mental healthcare grew, I made the decision to pursue a second career as a therapist and went back to school in 2021. I graduated with a Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of North Alabama and became both a National Certified Counselor and an Associate Licensed Counselor in the state of Alabama in 2023.

Today I continue to practice veterinary medicine as an emergency clinician and serve as a Clinical Year Mentor for senior veterinary students at the University of Arizona's College of Veterinary Medicine.  I am also the proud owner of HappyCat Counseling, LLC, where I help therapy clients identify opportunities for personal growth and encourage them to create positive change in their lives. As an Associate Licensed Counselor in the state of Alabama, I practice under the supervision of Jane Sweeney, LPC-S, of Sojourner Counseling in Madison, AL.

Specialties & Special Interests 

  • Counseling healthcare workers and those in the helping fields

  • Certified Compassion Fatigue Professional since 2021

  • ADHD skills training and symptom management

  • Teaching emotional regulation and distress tolerance skills

  • Suicide prevention and self-harm reduction

  • Career counseling

  • Healthy assertiveness and boundary-setting

  • Relationship counseling

  • Body acceptance and neutrality

  • Providing LGBTQIA+ affirming care

Practice Philosophy & Therapeutic Style

I aim to establish a warm, supportive, and collaborative therapeutic relationship with each client. I value transparency and have a direct but empathetic communication style. I think of the counseling process as a journey, and on the road of life each client is in charge of choosing their own destination, mapping out possible routes, and driving the bus. I believe that my role as a therapist is to serve as a neutral sounding board, to encourage clients to approach their journey with curiosity, and to teach clients the skills necessary to remain mindful of their feelings, to use their values to guide personal choices, and to reframe unhelpful thoughts while honoring their experiences. Also, like any good co-pilot, I will occasionally provide snacks. 

Though my personal counseling philosophy integrates concepts from a few therapeutic disciplines, solutions-focused therapy is my favorite approach. In solutions-focused therapy, we first work to define a client's preferred future and then identify ways for the client to move toward that life. This approach values the active construction of goals, a tolerance for healthy risk, and a willingness to accept change. In this approach, clients are often asked to describe how they believe they would feel and what they imagine life would be like if their problem was solved. This is especially helpful for clients who struggle to articulate specific goals for therapy. This approach also prompts exploration of new ways to reach a desired outcome and sometimes allows clients to realize that their view of the problem may require adjustment. Sometimes clients discover that they are able to reach their preferred future by focusing on the resolution of other issues that they haven't even considered. 


I also enjoy using existential therapy in my counseling approach. Existential therapy encourages clients to move toward a life in which their decisions are based on their own personal values rather than on the wishes and values of others. I believe that every person has an innate knowledge of themselves, but sometimes we begin to mistrust our own judgement or lose our ability to listen to our minds and bodies. Existential therapy can help clients rediscover and trust their own intuition and values. This leads to a more authentic state of being, less angst and guilt, and increased confidence and happiness. The first step to moving toward more authentic living is often for clients to identify their most important values and to reflect upon how well their choices and actions align with those values. 

Building a preferred life and making choices according to your own values can seem like a daunting task if you struggle with people-pleasing, anxiety, or codependency. In session, clients often find that fears of disappointing or angering others are significant barriers to their own happiness. Building better boundaries and healthy assertiveness skills is often an integral step toward learning to live the life you want to live. 

I also have an emerging interest in DBT-informed therapy, particularly in the teaching of emotional regulation and distress tolerance skills. This type of approach is extremely useful for decreasing self-defeating behaviors like violence, emotional outbursts, substance use, and self-harm because it provides real-world, tangible skills that clients can use to respond effectively to difficult situations. 

Finally, I use some concepts from cognitive behavior therapy, particularly rational emotive behavior therapy. In this approach, clients are encouraged to identify unhelpful and self-defeating beliefs that are contributing to their problems. These rigid, unhelpful thoughts are then reframed so that they are true, helpful, and more flexible - what we call a new effective philosophy. This type of approach encourages clients to notice when they are engaging in unhelpful thinking patterns and intervene before they lead to self-defeating behaviors. 

My approach is tailored to each client based on their goals. Clients are encouraged to provide feedback about the approaches they find most appealing, and we will have regular check-ins about what is working and what needs to be adjusted. 

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