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Social Work Month: Interview with Catherine von Klitzing

Written by Jessy Pucker LMSW

March 18th, 2022

Catherine von Klitzing, LMSW is a therapist at Refresh. She pivoted careers from being a chef to a therapist a few years ago. After over a decade as a chef, Catherine decided that she wanted to become a therapist. Her focus is based on self-defeating thoughts and connections to childhood experiences. Catherine provides therapy for individuals struggling with anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, and personality disorders.

Below is an interview between Jessy Pucker and Catherine von Klitzing about her decision to become a therapist.

JP: Tell me about what you did before social work and how you fell into that career?

CK: I worked as a chef in restaurants and then eventually as a private chef. I was going to the School and Visual Arts and I dropped out because it was very expensive and I didn’t have the discipline. After that, I started cooking because it is very tactile and creative. I did that for 20 years.

JP: That’s a long time!

CK: Yeah, I love it. It was definitely my first real passion. I watched cooking shows on TV and it just looked like so much fun. In my family, food is a way to come together. I think it is very healing and wonderful.

JP: It sounds like something you are really passionate about. At what point did you decide to change careers?

CK: I had the first idea that I wanted to do something else when I was 30. I was standing in a client’s kitchen in the Hamptons and I thought, ‘I do not want to be doing this when I am 40’ because it is really hard on your body. I was looking at different majors at colleges and none of them interested me. Simultaneously, I was reading about Attachment Theory. When I was reading about attachment styles it explained so much for me, personally. I have always been really curious about why people do the things they do, and why they are the way they are. Psychology was it. I’m very bad at math and did not think I could do the statistics class for a Psychology degree, so I actually created my own major in early childhood psychology.

I had been working with a social worker as my therapist for a really long time. I decided I wanted to get a masters, and I was deciding between Psychology and Social Work. I ultimately decided on Social Work.

JP: What about Social Work appeals to you?

CK: Because I grew up in Europe, I had no concept of systemic oppression. I moved to the United States when I was 15. My mom is from Alabama and had been in the Alabama Public School system during Segregation. We moved to a city in Alabama and I had never felt so out of place. I had never been around that many people of color. I became very interested in learning about systemic oppression. I read White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, written by written by American feminist scholar and anti-racist activist Peggy McIntosh. It describes 50 examples of small privileges that white people take for granted or aren’t even aware of. That was the first time I really understood white privilege.