Victoria Ribokas (Gribincea): “LCC helped me strengthen my faith and find my true calling as a psychologist.”
Victoria Ribokas is an LCC alumna from Moldova, who graduated in 2014 with a BA in Psychology. Currently, she lives in the Netherlands and has opened a private psychological practice. Victoria was an active member of the LCC community, and is looking forward to coming again to LCC someday and offering something in return for all the great things she gained from her experience here.What do you do at the moment?At the moment I live in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, with my husband and son. I recently started my private practice in psychology, where I offer psychological support to individuals and couples. I am also enrolled in a post-master’s training program on Family and Systemic Psychotherapy. In addition, I work part-time for Apple Retail.Why did you choose to major in psychology?I did not know much about psychology before coming to LCC. I remember looking up the meaning of “psychology” on the internet even. Studying psychology was never something I had in mind. When it came to making a choice for study, some friends and family told me that I was very good with people, compassionate, and understanding. I loved being able to help people by listening to them. I just knew I wanted to have a job that would allow me to help people on a professional level, so I decided to give psychology a try.LCC is a Christian university, did that influence your choice to study at LCC?The fact that LCC is a Christian university definitely was the main reason why I chose to study there. I was a new believer at that time and I was really intrigued by LCC, because of how fondly the missionaries I was working with spoke about Christian education. I was eager to explore more about Christianity and grow in my faith spiritually with like-minded people. I wanted to learn how Christian values, principles, and ethics are integrated into the academic world and daily life. Reading the Bible for myself and studying the Bible for a class turned out to be very different experiences, but I enjoyed that experience so much.Did LCC influence your career choice? If so, how?LCC has played a big role in my career choice. Psychology has a very broad spectrum that you can pursue and specialize in. At some point, you have to make a choice what side of psychology interests you most, rather than just general psychology. Over the years at LCC, I was able to take a variety of psychology classes, which helped me get a better idea of what I would like to do with my life in the future. I was blown away with every single class I had, which made me even more fascinated with how amazing God has created us. I love the fact that each human being is different, and how complex our minds are, and how unique and beautiful we are in every possible way. After taking the Marriage & Family and Clinical Psychology classes, I realized that counseling was what I wanted to pursue. I was very enthusiastic and eager to read the materials and do assignments for those classes. The professors and the guest lecturers we had were a big inspiration to me. I liked the fact that during classes we had the chance to practice our knowledge with each other by having mini therapy sessions. And even to this day, I continue to study what I was passionate about many years back at LCC, as I am currently doing my post-master’s training, with a focus on family and systemic psychotherapy.In addition to studies, what were you involved in at LCC?During my studies at LCC, I was an active member of this amazing community. In my second year, I was a First-Year Seminar leader. My third year, I was the leader of the Student Leadership team of the Social Sciences department. This team was responsible for event organizing for psychology students. In my senior year, I was a Student Assistant for the Theology department and a Residence Assistant. I was also a part of the Spiritual Life team, being involved with the orphanage visits and leading Bible studies on campus. Yet, my favorite leadership position at LCC was being an intern for the Study Abroad team. I enjoyed working with the study abroad students so much. I still remember with joy, all the travels and fun we had together. These experiences have greatly influenced me both professionally and personally. I learned how to be more organized, responsible, and how to communicate easily with people from all over the world. It also gave me a chance to make many incredible connections and friendships that I value even to this day.What did you do after graduation?After my graduation, I took a year off from studying to get some rest after the stressful and intense senior year I had. After having spent half a year in London, I returned to Lithuania to get married and then moved with my husband to the Netherlands to continue our studies. Here, I received my Master’s degree in Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology (research) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Although I appreciated the research side of psychopathology, I missed the practical aspect of psychology. This desire to explore more, motivated me to continue with another Master’s program in Psychology, specializing in Clinical Psychology, from Leiden University. This program was exactly what I was looking for. It was very practical and I had the opportunity to put the knowledge into practice when working directly with people during my internship at the Leiden University Treatment and Expertise Centre. After I finished my second Master’s Degree, I got training in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. At the moment, I am doing post-graduate training in psychotherapy, at the Areopagus Institute of Family Therapy and Systemic Practice. As a systemic psychotherapist, I will concentrate on working with couples and families. All in all, these amazing academic experiences and hard work over the years have brought me to a big event in my career, starting my own psychological practice and being able to help people professionally.What motivated you to become a counselor? Why is it important for you to help people?I consider psychology my calling. Throughout the years, I have developed a passion for helping people find resources for personal and relationship growth. What motivates me in my work is the love for people, the desire to offer help, encourage, and instill hope and bring opportunities for change. I find it rewarding to be able to support people in their process of healing and becoming the people they aspire to be or help them get back to healthy loving relationships. It is important to me to teach my clients how to take control of their circumstances and respond with confidence to their challenges.What are some challenges you face in your profession?One of the biggest challenges in my profession is keeping knowledge and skills up to date. It means you need to continually develop yourself, attending conferences, workshops, and doing additional training. Another challenge that many psychologists face these days is to establish yourself in the market and to be distinguished from others, and stand out. As a freelance psychologist and entrepreneur, there are many challenges, such as dealing with the logistics of the business, local legislation, marketing, personal branding, administration, accounting, and networking. I often think that I should have taken more business classes when I was still studying at LCC.What do you like the most about your profession?One of my favorite things about my work is to see people happy and empowered. Being able to see the progress of your work and how it has helped to change another person’s life is the greatest reward for me. Lately, I have been mostly working with international, multicultural couples, which is most relevant to me, because I am also married to someone from a different culture than my own. My husband is Lithuanian and I am from Moldova. I love helping couples thrive in their relationship, change their attitude towards one another, and communicate better. In the end, everyone wants to be loved, more connected, understood, and valued.What are your plans for the future?For now, I plan to complete my postgraduate training and get more involved in therapy. I would love to go back to Lithuania with my husband and son to visit LCC, as it is the place where I found a new family, where I met my husband, and where I strengthened my faith in God. I would love to go back one day and get a chance to serve the community and offer something back for all the great things I have gained from my time at LCC.What advice would you give to current LCC students?I recommend having a curious mindset and to be ready to explore untravelled paths. Do not be afraid to try out different opportunities that come your way to find what you truly love. It always helps to listen to other people and their stories and look for inspiration. Ask questions, be proactive in seeking help, and reach out for support when needed. LCC provides you with a unique opportunity to grow on different levels in such a diverse community and to learn from each other. Cherish your time at LCC and all the amazing people around you! Make lasting friendships for life and do things that bring you joy.Finally, as you think back to your LCC life, what are one or two of your best memories of your time at LCC?One of my best memories at LCC is the day I met one of my best friends, a person who has a great impact on my life. Her name is Irsana. I still remember how she looked that day, her smile, and her dazzling eyes. Somehow I knew that she would become my best friend. I remember that first time I invited her, her friend, and her sister to pray together with me for our upcoming exams. It was an experience where we all felt safe and supported, so we decided to meet and pray for each other every night. This was our tradition for almost two years and every prayer we had together is a special memory to me, and forever will be.