I was raised very poor after the divorce of my parents. I had a chaotic and tumultuous childhood from 3 to 14 years of age but I would not trade even the worst of it. I feel that adversity has given me a diverse perspective, an incredible drive to succeed and a profound appreciation for life. I was a first generation college student; in fact, no one in my family graduated high school. I am also deaf in mid and high frequency. Overcoming challenges has been a way of life for me and this is why I feel strongly about helping others do the same. I truly believe you can create the life you desire and deserve!
I earned an Associates Degree at Grand Rapids Community College before transferring to Grand Valley State University where I earned a Bachelors of Science in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. My Masters and Doctorate Degrees in Developmental Psychology were earned at Michigan State University with a specialized degree in Applied Developmental Science.
My interest areas and research are quite diverse. I studied aggression, family stress, family cohesion, and risk and resiliency throughout my educational process. While earning my doctorate, I worked in the inner city of Detroit gathering data for the MSU Department of Psychiatry under a grant from the Skillman Foundation to assess the effectiveness of parenting programs on child development. I engaged in University/Community Collaborative Research at MSU with the Institute for Children Youth and Families and the Black Child and Family Institute. I also worked within the Department of Family and Child Ecology at MSU to design and implement a service learning program that allowed students to engage with community partners to conduct meaningful service while applying course concepts. I volunteered for Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) for six years prior to being hired as staff. I worked for the organization for seven years as the Director of National Programs, managing 25 corporate entities across the eastern portion of the country. Time spent with Hugh O'Brian (AKA: Wyatt Earp) shaped my life tremendously.
Background Counseling in Grand Rapids
Each person is on a unique life journey. I look forward to learning where you are on your journey and how I can help you create the life you desire. It is not about dwelling on the past but about using life lessons to move forward in a positive way. Even our most difficult life experiences bring us wisdom, character and integrity. If you are at a low point on your journey, therapy provides you an opportunity to sort through the complexities, decrease the feeling of being overwhelmed and make real progress on your current life challenges.
If you are experiencing a high point on your journey or just striving to hit a high point, therapy can help with goal setting, research, and execution of your plan. Having someone to help problem solve and hold you accountable provides a direct path to achieving your dreams.
If you are coasting along with no obstacles but at the same time, no real passion, it is time to make a change! Life is meant to be exciting, adventurous, and rewarding. I look forward to meeting you and working together to create your vision for your life journey.
I have also had a passion for business. I owned a transportation company for 11 years and retail stores for 3 years. I served as the Clinical Director for Crisis Care Network, the largest critical incident response business in the United States. In this position, I managed psychologists and therapists across the country in psychological response to hostage situations, death in the work place, bank robberies, school shootings and natural disasters. For three years, I was the Director of the Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) Department of Experiential Learning and have taught psychology courses in GRCC’s Department of Psychology since 2004.
I am now a Tenured Professor of Psychology at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and continue to teach at GRCC as an adjunct instructor. I also own and run Life Journey Psychological Services and engage in consulting work with a number of interesting businesses and educational institutions. I derive great joy from teaching, counseling, assessing and consulting. I feel so fortunate to do the things I love.
The common thread that runs through my past is making a positive difference in the lives of others!
I live on a 15 acre horse farm and enjoy jumping horses cross country and equestrian camping with the love of my life, Seth. My 17 year old son, Bryce is an incredible blessing. I learned so much about the journey of life through my son. Bryce is a senior in high school but completed his associates degree last year at GRCC. He has been attending college since 8th grade! He has a passion for computers and psychology. This year, he is enjoying time with his girlfriend, Celeste and has taken up wrestling. I am definitely a proud Mom : ) We just lost our older dog but we still have the other two, two cats and 4 horses. We are a family of animal lovers. We rescue any animal in need. We even stop to get turtles and frogs out of the road!
I am excited to meet you and I am honored to play even a small role in shaping your journey. I wish you all the best!
Dr. Urminda Firlan
Psychologist, PhD, DLLP
Graduated from Michigan State University
Department of Psychology in 2000