Beth Evelyn Barber is a non-traditional student working on a Master of Social Work degree through the School of Graduate Studies. “I will graduate at 10 a.m. next May 10th,” she says, as she anticipates the end of her academic work and the beginning of a new career.
“I am deeply grateful to my partner, my family and my close circle of friends who have provided me with the support and encouragement needed to take on this endeavor at this point in my life.”
A native of Massachusetts, Barber and her family moved to Greeneville in 1981 because of her father’s employment. She graduated from Greeneville High School and then entered East Tennessee State University. After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1986, Barber was employed for eight years at a local mental health center where she enjoyed working with individuals with severe and persistent mental health issues.
Desiring an alternative way of working with people, Barber pursued professional training in massage and body work. In 2007, she became the first person in Tennessee to become certified in Hakomi method, a body-centered psychotherapy. “It was my training in both Hakomi and internal family systems that made me want to pursue the work full-time,” she says.
And so, after 20 years of providing massage services in her private practice Barber decided to return to ETSU for the master’s degree program in social work. “My experience in the social work program has been positive,” she notes. “The faculty members are dedicated and have the students’ best interests at heart. I especially like the balance of classroom education blended with the opportunity to learn from skillful professionals in the field.” The advanced degree will afford her, she says, “a way to assist individuals in becoming more embodied, self-aware and empowered.”
Barber is currently engaged in her social work field placement at the ETSU Counseling Center.In addition to her academic work, Barber serves on the leadership committee of the Masters of Social Work Student Association, maintains her meditation practice and plays hand bells in a local choir. She looks forward to returning to the contra dances in Jonesborough when time permits after graduation.