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Northwest Missouri State University


"Playing with Anxiety" Photo Gallery

Allison Edwards ’98 is a licensed professional counselor in Nashville, Tenn., and incorporated her own experiences and observations into a parent-friendly handbook, “Why Smart Kids Worry and What Parents Can Do to Help,” which was published in 2013. (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)Edwards paired her observations of children with her childhood experiences of dealing with fear and anxiety into her parent-friendly handbook, “Why Smart Kids Worry and What Parents Can Do to Help.” In it, Edwards offers 15 practical tools to empower children to navigate situations that trigger anxiety. (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)Edwards reflects on her experiences as an undergraduate student at Northwest Missouri State University over a breakfast at Marché Artisan Foods, one of her favorite dining spots in Nashville. (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)Edwards transferred to Northwest and joined the Bearcat women’s basketball team for the 1996-1997 season. “I grew up at Northwest. I became an adult,” she says. (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)Edwards continues to play basketball during her spare time and exhibits the shooting skills that Michael Smith ’98, Northwest’s current women’s basketball head coach and a graduate assistant during Edwards’ playing days at the University, calls “a zone buster.” (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)Edwards was a four-time all-conference and all-district performer at St. James High School, winning three conference and district championships. She went on to play two seasons at the University of Alabama-Huntsville before transferring to Northwest for her junior season where she eventually became a key player off the Bearcat bench. (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)Edwards developed her love for basketball as a child. “It was one of those things where you could play it anywhere,” she said. “You could go outside and you didn’t need anyone to play with you. There’s a hoop, a ball, it was a gravel driveway. That was all I needed.” (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)If Edwards wasn’t going to have a career playing basketball, her teammates figured she was destined for a coaching career in the game. Instead, Edwards remains grateful for the role Northwest had in helping her develop the skills she needed to become a school counselor and child therapist. (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)Experiences in her life led to Edwards establishing herself as a licensed professional counselor in Nashville. In 2006, she opened a private practice that specializes in working with children ages 4 through adolescence and their families. (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)Play-Doh models created by the children who visit Edwards’ private practice fill a window sill in her office. She began incorporating Play-Doh into her therapy after realizing how quickly she could connect with children by playing with it together. (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)A sandbox in Edwards’ office is a place where children like to bury treasures for others to find. “Everyone’s always trying to find the treasure,” Edwards says.Toys play a key role in Edwards’ therapy work with children to help them discuss their anxieties and identify emotions. They are conversation starters that help her young patients “connect the dots” to their fears and anxiety triggers. (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)Edwards sits for an interview with the Northwest Alumni Magazine at her Nashville home, describing her experiences at Northwest as well as her memories of dealing with childhood anxiety and her journey to becoming a licensed professional counselor. (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)Edwards laughs while being interviewed for the Northwest Alumni Magazine at her Nashville home. She settled in the sitting after earning her master’s degree at Vanderbilt University and has built her private practice through word-of-mouth referrals. (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)Edwards, pictured in front of Mayborn Hall on the Vanderbilt University campus in Nashville, entered the University’s graduate school in 1999 to pursue her master’s degree in counseling. She now teaches graduate-level courses in the counseling program there. (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)An alumna of Northwest’s elementary education program, Edwards began teaching graduate-level counseling courses in 2009 at Vanderbilt University. She incorporates her counseling casework and experiences into her teaching to ensure she offers practical lessons to students. (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)In addition to being a registered play therapist and managing her private practice, Edwards teaches graduate-level counseling courses as an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University and writes about childhood anxiety. (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)Edwards began teaching at Vanderbilt in 2009 while still managing her private practice. She says she grows more comfortable in the classroom with each passing year and takes pride in lending real and practical experiences to students. (Photo by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)