Every Monday we celebrate women who are doing great things in their careers in our Pearls And Heels segment. Our Pearls And Heels lady today is Maggie Gitu. She is a family & sex therapist by profession. Maggie is also a classically trained singer (Mezzo-soprano).
1. Describe your typical day?
My days are irregular due to the different things I do. In my early days, I’m up by 5 am and out of the house by 6 am. These are often the days when I have therapy sessions or music students. However, because I’m a night owl by nature, I find that I prefer to work on my music and writing projects late into the night. It can make for a very haphazard sleep schedule.
2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a million things when I was growing up; a banker, air hostess (stewardess), beautician and singer are just four of the professions that come to mind. I thought so many jobs were cool; in fact, I still have fantasies of becoming an auto-mechanic.
3. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
If I had to do it all over again, I would have stuck with the therapy studies as I had originally intended. In university, I was a music major with a minor in psychology but I was advised that I would need to study up to the Master’s level in order to practice. My commitment was to music so I dropped psychology and studied French instead.
4. What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
Trustworthiness i.e. the ability to keep people’s information secret.
5. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Although the field is still very new, I feel that people here are quite excited about the idea of having someone to speak openly to regarding their sexual function/dysfunction issues but it will take some time for people to truly understand what I do and what I don’t do e.g. I’m a sex therapist, which is not the same as a sex surrogate.
It’s become clear that people want or need the support but are not sure if they can/should trust anyone with such sensitive information. I hope that with time, they will understand that (sex) therapy is about training and not just what pops into my head at any given moment, lol.
6. What motivates you?
I am motivated by the need to do excellent work. Listening to good music energizes me while hanging out with very specific friends and family keeps me happy and grounded in reality. I’m a recovering perfectionist so sometimes I make myself crazy with it, lol.
7. How do you define success?
Health is wealth so to be healthy is a big component of success. Additionally, to be able to do something that feeds your soul and your pocket is another major component of success. Finally, to love and be loved. These would be my ideas of success.
8. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
I have so many! First would be my mum; I mean, she got her MA in Marriage & Family Therapy at the age of 60+yrs. In fact, we went through that program together & graduated together. What a cool & special experience!
My sister Fena Gitu inspires me greatly; she’s incredibly hard-working and such a fantastic musician! I’ve also been fortunate to have good professional mentors who inspire me forward.
9. What is your favourite aspect of your job?
Meeting new clients! There’s something about someone needing support and them choosing to come to me. Even better than that is when a client has a “light bulb moment”. It’s quite exciting watching them experience their moment of insight for the first time!
10. What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
– Study and earn your academic credentials because that will get you credibility as a serious professional.
– Guard your reputation with everything you’ve got because no one will trust you if you are perceived to be untrustworthy.
– Register with a recognized registration body as part of your ethical and professional obligation to your clients.
11. What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
It’s a broad field so pick a specialization that you’re passionate about because there will be a lot of reading and writing about it.
Be open to your own personal growth, i.e. have the humility to accept that you are not perfect and that you too have plenty of room to grow.
Keep up with your clinical supervision because that is how you will grow as a therapist.
Keep up with your personal therapist because you need to be healthy in order to give competent, ethical care to others.
12. What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of your career?
When I spoke to a group of men aged 20-80yrs old about their sexual experiences and they were so open and generous with such personal information. At the end of the meeting, they thanked me and handled me with such respect that it affirmed to me that I was in the right profession.
13. What makes you happy?
I laugh a lot so I look for every excuse to laugh. I’m not beyond picking on friends or saying things for their shock value :-). I also love to travel; my friends say that travel is my drug of choice. Good music is an instant cure to the blues, which is why I listen to Fena so much.
14. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I’m embarrassed to admit that I watch a lot of TV, especially TV series; maybe I should join a Kenyan TV series to practice.
I also take my own music seriously so I’m working on a couple of music projects for 2016. I am determined to write more music this year, as well as read more books. It’s a lot but as Fena says; I’m “crossing all crossables” to make all these things happen.
15. Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
I want to be travelling a lot more. I also want to be a more experienced family & sex therapist with a thriving practice. I intend to be one of the contributors to the fields of marriage, family and sex therapy.
If you would like to interact with Maggie Gitu you can find her on Twitter at @MaggietheMezzo.