Get to know... Marriage and Family Therapist Kimberly Johnson
DARIEN — Kimberly Johnson grew up in Darien, but has spent much of her life traveling.
For a year after college she was a member of the Peace Corps stationed in a remote village in the Philippines. She taught English for a year in China, rode a train through Russia and worked for several years for Project Concern International, a nonprofit in Guatemala that works with indigenous populations.
Johnson is now back in Fairfield County, where she met her husband and has raised her three children, now 14, 16 and 18. In 2013, Johnson earned a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Fairfield University.
After a stint working as a caseworker in the South Norwalk offices of Person-to-Person, Johnson opened up a private practice on Old Kings Highway South.
Q: How long did you live in Darien?
A: I live in Wilton now. But I was born on Hillcrest Avenue. I went to Hollow Tree Elementary School, which doesn’t exist anymore. And I graduated from Darien High School in 1984. My parents moved into town in the 1950s, and then they moved out around 2000.
I lived my whole life here. Then I went to college at the University of Vermont. I was up there for a couple years, then I joined the Peace Corps for a couple years.
Q: Why did you decide to join the Peace Corps?
A: I graduated from Vermont with a degree in English, and I didn’t want to sit behind a desk. I told myself that eventually I’d sit behind a desk, but not when I’m 22.
Q: Did you enjoy your time with the Peace Corps?
A: I did; it was interesting. I was in a very remote area, 30 miles from the main road with a small tribe of people. There was no electricity, no running water, nothing like that. It took me about a year to learn the language. We had no calendar or clocks. We could write letters, but I didn’t have mail where I was. You had to go to the bottom of the mountain, walk 30 miles to get to the road, get on a banana truck and then the banana truck would drive you to the town where there was mail and one phone that you could sometimes use.
Q: After the Peace Corps, did you continue to travel?
A: I moved to Beijing, China, and was an English teacher for a year, which led me to believe that I never wanted to be a teacher. Then I traveled all through Siberia on the Trans-Siberian Express. It was amazing, it was like $50 to go something like a third of the way around the world.
And then I came home and I worked at the homeless shelter in Stamford for years. It was called St. Luke’s, but now it’s called Inspirica.
Q: Why did you decide to go into marriage and family therapy?
A: I’ve always worked for charities, my whole life. So I kind of had this macro view of helping people, and then I decided I wanted to work more closely with people.
Therapy is a little like social work, but it’s a little more clinical. I liked the focus of it better than social work.
Q: Prior to opening your own practice, why have you decided to always work with nonprofits?
A: I think some people are just wired that way. For me to get out of bed every day I have to be emotionally connected with what I do. I have to really like what I do. As much as I have all sorts of clients with all sorts of issues, I love it.
Q: How is it going with the new space? When did you officially open?
A: Last week. I just had my first client. It’s exciting. I’m really kind of nervous, to tell you the truth, but I think opening a new business you have to be a little nervous. I was in a store the other day and I saw this cheesy sign that said, “If your dreams don’t scare you, then they’re not big enough,’ and I thought, ‘That’s totally me, the universe is talking to me.”