By Martie Thompson
Michelle Wright, MS, LMHC works and lives in Mandarin. A native Oklahomian, she earned her undergraduate dual degree in biology and chemistry with a minor in psychology from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. She fell in love with the Jacksonville area when she came here for an internship in medical technology at St. Vincent’s Hospital in 2004. She decided to stay and took jobs at the blood bank and then eventually in the hematology/oncology department. Eventually she went on to earn her master’s degree in mental health counseling from Walden University. Presently, she has her own practice in Mandarin, where she works with her mother, Dr. Cindy Wright, a psychiatrist. She lives with her eight-year-old great dane, Icey.
Q: How did you decide to pursue mental health counseling as a career?
A: After I moved here, for seven years I was cooped up in a lab working in the hematology department. I really missed interaction with others, so I started taking classes which led to my master’s degree. Then I interned at Life Source Group in St. Augustine and worked at PSI Behavioral Health before opening my own practice in 2015.
Q: What do you like best about your job and what is the hardest part about your job?
A: I like being able to watch people change and grow. It’s very fulfilling to see a smile on their face after going through a rough time. The hardest thing is just getting people to come in the door because of the stigma of mental health. Getting people to understand that therapy isn’t about being crazy or weak … it’s about bringing happiness and peace to yourself and your relationships.
Q: What can you tell us about Icey?
A: Icey is a large great dane … 160 pounds. She is gray with black spots and a white head and neck; this is a recessive trait that you don’t see often. She thinks she’s a person. She knows when it’s time for peanut butter every night at 7 p.m. and she will sit on the couch with me and watch OU football games. Interesting story about her name: I originally named her Isis, after the Egyptian goddess. I changed her name to Icey after recent world events.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
A: I’m a country girl. I have three acres with a beautifully landscaped yard that I enjoy maintaining. I also have a vegetable garden and right now I am growing okra, green beans and tomatoes. I like exotic flowers and have peonies from all over the world. I also enjoy oil painting, although I’m not very good at it. Of course, I read all kinds of psychology journals because I like to stay up to date.
Q: What’s your favorite vegetable from your garden and how do you prepare it?
A: I love fried okra. I only use cornmeal to coat it, so there is less batter and always fry it in peanut oil because it is healthier. I also like to fry spinach!
Photo courtesy Leo Alfonso
Michelle Wright and Icey