Healing complex trauma in LGBTQ people motivates Outstanding Graduate

ASU College of Integrative Sciences and Arts Outstanding Graduate for fall 2022 Shae Moreau

ASU Master of Counseling graduate Shae Moreau is joining a private practice that specializes in working with clients with complex trauma.


Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2022 graduates.

When ASU College of Integrative Sciences and Arts Master of Counseling graduate Shae Moreau first started college at another university, they back-pedaled from the pull of moving toward a career in counseling: “I was told that if you take other people's problems home with you, then you should not become a counselor.”

But Moreau reevaluated that decision a few years later.

“I was at a point in my life where nothing seemed fulfilling, and I felt like I was not making any progress toward feeling like my life had any meaning in contributing to the greater good,” said Moreau, who is from Austin, Texas, but now calls Tempe theirMoreau uses they/them pronouns. hometown. “I woke up one day and thought about why I had rejected counseling as a field. I realized that I no longer took other people's problems home with me. That realization opened up so many doors of opportunity, and I feel that my life has only gotten better since then.”  

Ready to go back to school and commit to studying to become a counselor, Moreau started by completing a bachelor’s degree in psychology through ASU Online, graduating magna cum laude in spring 2020.

They began ASU’s Master of Counseling program with the fall 2020 cohort. Now, Moreau is graduating with the distinction of being named the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts Outstanding Graduate for fall 2022, in recognition of Moreau’s high academic achievement, professionalism and many contributions to their cohort and the faculty of counseling and counseling psychology.

Moreau quietly took on the role of being a relationship-builder from day one in the program.

“My cohort had to take graduate-level classes via Zoom and were unable to meet each other in person. One of the first ways we became involved is through the Master of Counseling student organization,” they explained. “We met twice a month for official meetings throughout our first semester, and once the vaccine became available, we started to gather in small, in-person groups. Our cohort made a concerted effort to get to know each other despite COVID-related barriers. In my first year, I also joined the Diversion, Equity, and Inclusion Committee started by students and led by professors Nancy Truong and Lisa Spanierman.”

“Shae emerged as a leader among a strong cohort of Master of Counseling students,” wrote Clinical Assistant Professor Jamie Bludworth, director of the Counselor Training Center, in his nomination of Moreau for the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts Outstanding Graduate Award. “Shae was selected by faculty and peers to represent the students in our program at a variety of formal functions (i.e., orientation, graduation, internship fairs, etc.). Our faculty are impressed with Shae’s leadership, and Shae’s peers continuously look to Shae as a leader who represents their interests in an effective manner with faculty.”

All students in the Master of Counseling program complete an internship as part of their program. Moreau completed several clinical experiences.

Their first clinical practicum was in ASU’s Counselor Training Center as a student counselor. Impressed by the professionalism and work ethic Moreau displayed so early in their clinical training, the faculty offered Moreau a graduate assistantship to take on an administrative role in the center, which Moreau readily accepted.

Moreau also interned at Bayless Integrated Healthcare, which provides community mental health care to AHCCCS clients.

“It was an amazing opportunity to work with adults in a community health setting,” Moreau said. “I learned so much about trauma during that internship, and had the privilege of growing my skill set while investing back in the local community. I worked with clients from many different backgrounds, including people from the LGBTQ+ population and the geriatric population. Many of my clients had a trauma background, and my supervisor told me by the time that I finished my internship that I was knowledgeable and experienced enough to call myself a trauma-informed therapist.”

After graduating, Moreau will be at a private practice that specializes in working with clients with complex trauma.

“Trauma comes in many forms, but the areas I am focusing on are traumas that occur within the LGBTQ+ community,” they said. “I will be trained in a modality of therapy called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) that helps the brain process trauma.” 

Moreau shared these additional reflections about their ASU journey:

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

Answer: A distinctive aspect of my master’s program is that you are forced to grow. Counselor development and training is not easy. It asks you to see beyond your worldview and stretch yourself professionally and personally. In this field, we are taught to value critical thinking, constructive criticism, and always be aware of how we may be accidentally causing harm to others.

One of my favorite phrases that I've learned is that it's not about your intention, but about the impact that your actions have. This has allowed me to open myself up to receive feedback that may hurt my ego. It's not easy, and I am by no means an expert, but the constant goal of doing better helps shape how I live my life. 

Q: Thinking back, what do think is the most interesting moment, story or accomplishment in your ASU journey? 

A: There are a lot of accomplishments that I could look back on, but my values center around making sure that I am living my life as authentically as possible. I've always known there was something that didn't quite make sense about me growing up, but I did not have the language or understanding to explore that. About half way through my graduate program, I realized in personal therapy that the missing piece was my gender identity. I was terrified, not because I now knew that I was non-binary and that I now use they/them pronouns, but because I had spent a year in my program with people using other pronouns and knowing me as a different gender.

I remember telling my advisor, and starting to tell other professors, staff and students, and worrying that not only would I find out that people didn't accept me, but that I was in the wrong program for a non-binary person. But I have never felt more loved and seen than by the people I have built relationships with in this program, whether faculty, staff, students, people who will be friends for life, etc. Not only does everyone important to me in this program use my proper pronouns, they also go above and beyond to correct other people and support me unconditionally. I can honestly say I have not felt more myself that the last few semesters at ASU. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU for your graduate degree?

A: When it came time to apply to master’s programs, ASU appeared to be one of the most organized in terms of readily available information. The only thing I had wished for my program that was not offered at the time I applied was gaining experience with telehealth. As we all know, the pandemic took care of that, so I feel like I got everything I was looking for in a counseling program! 

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: The most inspiring lesson I learned from my advisor, Dr. Jamie Bludworth, is probably not one that he intentionally taught. I watched him work hard as a professor, advisor, supervisor and clinician. It appears he is beloved by everyone, and anyone would tell you that the respect and admiration people have for him is well-deserved.

I was reflecting once on why that is, and I think the reason is because he lives his life every day to help the people around him be better. He does not try to pass on lessons in a "this is how I do it so this is how it should be done” way. Instead, he looks to your individual strengths and talents and helps you shine in those areas. When he is in a conversation with you, he is seeing you. There is no better example in my life of how to be a good human being, a caring advisor and an understanding professor. I strive to be like him, but at the same time, I strive to be exactly me, because being who I am and leaning into my strengths is exactly how I can be more like him. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Read all your emails from your professors and program coordinators! If there is an important date that seems way in the future, note it down anyway. This is a good time to practice being an adult and meeting deadlines in a professional manner. It saves you, your advisor and other staff and faculty a lot of headaches if you are able to develop a system that includes when you need to turn in paperwork, emails, sign up for examinations or graduation, etc., and you can spend focused time on assignments instead. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: I am partial to the outdoor seating area between Payne Hall and Farmer (on the Tempe campus). One of my favorite parts of the past year has been the lunches I have had on Monday afternoons with the PhD students in my program. Although I am a master’s student, they welcomed me and my ideas to their group. It was always a time when I felt completely seen, and that time of sharing in community would get me through the rest of the week. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Unfortunately, $40 million is not enough to solve the issue of mental health access for everyone in the world. I would still use it to make as large of a dent as possible, as I believe everyone deserves equal access to mental health services and support. However, if I had to focus the issue down to something that is more likely to be able to be done with $40 million, I would focus on building social programs and housing for houseless and low-income communities. 

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