FSM Therapist, Teri Varney - Lifetime Achievement Award Winner from
Teri Varney is a psychotherapist and the Anti-Violence Coordinator at Family Service Madison. In this role, not only does she see clients individually for general mental health counseling, but she also manages all anti-violence programs FSM offers, makes sure that clients seeking help receive the appropriate services, and leads many of those anti-violence groups.
Teri began her work in 1982 as a Crisis Line and Shelter Volunteer at Dane County’s local shelter, called DCABW at the time. Teri volunteered at DCABW for five years until she obtained the Volunteer Coordinator position in 1987. During her time there, Teri & her colleagues often spoke of the connection between violence and poverty, privilege, & patriarchy, then considered rather radical. She also created the first outreach and support group in Dane County for lesbians abused by their partners, called LAVENDAR, and Teri lead these groups from 1988 until 2000.
During her work at DCABW, Teri decided to go back to university for her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from the UW-Madison, and she attained her degree in 1992.
Teri started her journey at FSM in 1996, first as an in-home family therapist, and then as an outpatient therapist and group facilitator. I could speak about Teri’s hard work, passion, and accomplishments for quite a while, however, suffice it to say that she truly understands what it is to be a phenomenal counselor. She knows that stopping abuse is a cycle of learned traits. She never shames her clients. She listens with compassion and understanding. Teri ultimately wants what everyone wants – a safer community with safe relationships, in which one feels safe, respected, and loved.
When I asked Teri what it meant to her to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award, she said, “It is quite an honor to be recognized by those who do this work. It is often the last thing people in this field want to deal with - perpetrators of violence…it is difficult to make a lasting change in our community if we do not interrupt the pervasiveness of violence against women.” Teri’s right on many accounts; I don’t think that we, as a community, say thank you to people like Teri enough.
Well done, Teri! You certainly deserve this award and more for the positive changes you’ve made in our community. I think I speak for everyone when I say thank you. Not only have you made our community a safer place, but you have touched countless individuals’ lives to make them happier, healthier people. Thank you.