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Inspiring Conversations with Stephen Ostrow of Medicine Within

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephen Ostrow. 

Hi Stephen, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
The world has a history of cruelty to many Queer and Trans folx, and as a youth, I was no exception. In this way, my story is an all too common one. I live by the premise that we are not what happens to us but rather how we respond, what I have learned is that how we respond is often determined by the insight and skills we have. When I was a youth, I was inspired to become a therapist by 2 of my therapists. One who offered my Queer teen self a sense of safety when I needed it most, and another that supported me through the early stages of my gender journey. The tools I gained, and the experiences I had in therapy helped me uncover and embody my most authentic self. I felt seen and heard and had a nonjudgmental presence to hold space while I explored who I am, what I need, and how to navigate the world as my authentic self. I also had experiences with therapists who were ignorant of the impact being nonbinary and transgender in a binary and transphobic world has on mental health, or believed my gender journey was a pathology. So, knowing how rare Queer and Trans competent counseling services are and that I wanted to offer other Queer and Trans folx the space to explore and express themselves while also learning the skills that will help them thrive has naturally led me here. I also am trained as a massage therapist and yoga instructor which has been beneficial in creating a whole-person approach to the work I do. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
What I have learned is that the journey is continuous and evolving. In some ways, I am paving my own road, and in some ways, I am following the path of our transcestors who were healers. I am a first-generation high school graduate; one challenge was gaining the educational background I needed for this work. By that time, I had also been rejected by my family for being Queer and Trans. So, navigating higher education without family support or financial support was tricky, took a bit longer, and cost more than I anticipated. With the help of a great deal of people I graduated with my Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and was able to start a private practice. During my last semester of graduate school. I helped start a new mental health program with a local LGBTQ nonprofit, it was a challenge I was happy to meet. But while establishing the program the COVID19 pandemic occurred. This has affected people mentally, emotionally, and physically and presented lots of opportunities to get creative in my work and to figure out the best ways to use teletherapy. Now, I am maintaining my private practice and I love it! 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Medicine Within LLC offers affirming mental health counseling services to people who are LGBTQPIA2S+. We genuinely appreciate the intersectionality of the different parts of you! We know you can thrive with the support, tools, and skills to navigate your personal journey. We offer individual counseling, relational counseling, and work with youth 14 years old and up using a person-centered approach that includes mindfulness, somatic approaches, Cognitive Behavioral techniques, Nonviolent communication, and other eclectic counseling styles. You deserve support to get from where you are to where you want to be! 

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
So, many! As someone who is Queer, Trans, and Nonbinary many of the resources I use professionally are helpful personally and vice versa. I listen to audiobooks mostly, because they allow me to stay moving which is important for me to absorb the content. Some books I have found to be particularly important (in no specific order because they cannot be ranked) are Gender Outlaw and My Gender Workbook by Kate Bornstein, Whipping Girl by Julia Serano, The Labor of Love by Thomas Beatie, Sissy by Jacob Tobias, Redefining Realness by Janet Mock, The Queer and Trans Resilience Workbook by Annelise Singh, The Autistic Trans Gude to Life by Wendy Lawson and Yenn Purkis, The Body Keep’s the Score by Bessel Van Der Kulk. I like Laverne Cox’s podcast, Brene Brown’s books, and podcasts, I enjoy neuroscience so Dan Seigel’s work is really interesting to me, Peter Levine’s Waking the Tiger. There are many more but I believe that is good enough of a list for now. 

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