Tina Barrett

Tina Barrett EdD, LCPC
Co-founder and full time Executive Director of Tamarack Grief Resource Center

1. What is your morning motivation to do great things?

It’s a big, big world, and there are many impressive happenings by so many dynamic beings every moment. A few things that motivate me? Building community. Bridging people. Connecting. Becoming stronger together. There is something deeply inspiring about being part of a family, a team, a community of any size that strives to take care of one another. Without question, we are stronger together.

2. What is one thing you do to work towards a work/life balance?

Work is part of life and I think it can be a set up to feel like “my time” is only that time outside of work. There seems to be pressure to not like work, or to value whatever we choose outside of work more than work itself. We choose work, and it is part of our lives. The more we all recognize and actively – deliberately – create vital, healthy, positive, active workplaces, the more “my time” we end up with.

That being said, outside of work I’m not one to have my phone ringer turned on. I prefer not to be distracted or disrupted by work calls and hoping to be more present whether it be with my child, my family or friends, on a hike with my dog, or reading a book. I can deliberately choose when to listen to work messages and respond.

3. Name one person who has inspired you in your career.

My dear Grandmother Jean died suddenly of a heart attack when I was in middle-school. Grandma Jean who welcomed people into her home, and would cut a pie in however many pieces there were people whether that be four or 24, Grandma Jean who could play scrabble, create a folksy craft project, talk on the phone with a tangled 30 ft cord, while cooking meat and potatoes. Grandma Jean who loved me just for being me. Grandma Jean was suddenly gone. Her death rocked my entire family. I struggled to get my footing. Early on in my career, I didn’t recognize the impact of that loss on my choice of career, but 20 years later it’s pretty clear that losing this mighty kind woman who took care of her community and accepted me more than I did myself- may just may have some influence on my choice to work with death, grief, hope and healing – especially with teens.

4. Why did you decide to start Tamarack Grief Resource Center?

Wild places have consistently helped offer me perspective, confidence, and insight. Working in a psychiatric hospital in the early 90’s sparked my interest in moving therapeutic programs outdoors. An awareness of how differently every person responds to trauma, tragedy, and adverse circumstances prompted my inquiry into how we can foster resiliency after significant changes in relationships or attachment breaks.

– There are no other organizations in western Montana offering year-round, comprehensive bereavement support and education for kids and adults. Starting Tamarack Grief Resource Center blended my commitment to move healing programs outdoors and to stabilize and strengthen individuals following profound loss. Many people are incredibly uncomfortable addressing death, grief, hope and healing, even though we are all impacted by loss. Relationships are complex and tricky even in the best of circumstances. Death ends a life – not a relationship. We often struggle with how to gain strength or comfort from a relationship with a loved-one who is no longer walking on this earth, or how to honor the depth of our love for that person. TGRC supports people to integrate losses into their lives in ways that are meaningful to them, and to re-access hope.

5. What is one technological device or app you use that you could not live without?

Well I certainly enjoy the photos I’m able to take with me everywhere on my phone – and may or may not have thousands of them! Could I live without them? Sure. But I do enjoy them.

6. What is your greatest strength as a leader?

How I enjoy caring about people and recognizing their beauty, strengths, and talents (sometimes even before they do) and helping them shine.

7. What has been your biggest failure and how have you overcome it?

A handful of us worked to create a grief program over a decade in the late 90’s that was never quite sustainable. The community grew accustomed to the services, but when the founders were no longer active, the funding nor the leadership was in place to carry the programs forward and the valuable services ended. It was incredibly sad and disappointing, and could have been prevented. It is always more difficult to start something than to continue it, so having to start a new non-profit grief center was an enormous undertaking, but a clear reminder of the importance of mindful, deliberate growth, and how essential it is to invest in establishing a solid business as well as on high-quality programming. As hard as it is to say “no” or turn down opportunities to grow or expand in certain ways, it is essential to do so to ensure long-term viability of the grief center.

8. What is success?

For me, the most satisfying feeling of success emerges from a highly interactive, creative, growth-filled process in which everyone is in engaged in a shared goal, and the talents, passion, perseverance, and grit actualize something truly more magnificent than would be possible independently.

9. Name one person who is a successful leader.

Ellie Steinberg. I admire Ellie’s compassion, brilliance, spunk, and drive. She makes things happen, and cares deeply about people and partners every step of the way.

10. What is the one thing you do over and over and recommend to others?

Take a hike. Move your good self. Be outside. Stretch your body, your heart, your mind. Clear your head. Breath deep. Feel your feet under you. Trust gravity. Feel the sun, the wind, the rain. Marvel at the night sky. Allow yourself to be still. Be aware of how the seasons touch the landscape. Notice something beautiful. Take a friend, a dog, or just your good self. Whether it be a stroll along the river, an amble around the block, or a bushwack through wild lands – I do hope you take a hike.