When it comes to therapy, Michelle Pellin has embraced a jack of all trades approach, offering a range of options to her clients.
Heading into her second year at the Red Barn, Pellin has been in the field since 2011 when she started as a social worker. After receiving her license in 2014, Pellin waited a few years before striking out on her own and opening her practice in Durham in September 2018.
The Red Barn in Durham, New Earth Holistic Therapies and Art Center, 352 Main St., provides a wide range of therapeutic services, including practices such as psychotherapy, hypnosis, meditation and Reiki. The center also has classes geared toward healthy living, as well as musical performances. A salt cave, aroma therapy and massage therapy are just a few of the options available.
Customer Ann Bouchard described the Red Barn as “a one stop shop for health and wellness.”
“I’m really happy to be where I am, it’s completely changed my life,” Pellin said. “There’s such a network here of wonderful human beings that you can lean on.”
Pellin is a cognitive behavioral therapist, but her work goes beyond standard approaches. She is certified in fields such as traumatic brain injury, spiritual therapy, Reiki and more.
“I love it. It would be boring to see the same type of clientele all day long. It’s challenging for me to have the variety,” she said.
One of the biggest challenges in her work is helping people feel they are understood, especially clients who have experienced brain injury.
“I’m not here to necessarily fix them, I’m here to facilitate,” Pellin said. “Brain injury affects so much of the brain: your judgment might be different, your anxiety level might be different, your memory will be different … They want to find out who they are in this new body. It’s all about identity.”
The quest for identity and understanding also comes up in Pellin’s other fields of expertise, particularly with those who might be witnessing a “spiritual awakening.” In these cases, she will bring her services into the community along with other resources available at the Red Barn.
Pellin focuses on an “open and affirming” tactic with her clients: rather than dictating to them how they should live. She explains that she strives to teach and learn from her clientele when possible.
“I don’t want to be above them, I want to be their equal,” she said. “We should all be equals together.”
Pellin’s commitment to equality and accessibility is the reason she moved her office from the upper level of the barn to the bottom so that her office was handicap accessible. In addition, Pellin works with a number of minority groups, including the LGBTQ+ community, as well as survivors of sexual assault. She offers low income clients, without insurance, options for reduced fees.
Pellin gave an example of one of the most fulfilling parts of her job. “The other day I got a text from my client and he showed me a screen shot of how he lost some weight. He had been struggling with weight loss for years it seems. It’s those little wins,” she said.