Reflections on the Person-Centered Thinking Trainer Candidate Journey

It is no small commitment to choose to become a Person-Centered Thinking Trainer! At HSA USA We have the honor of mentoring these hardworking, dedicated, and compassionate people.

We were able to get a few of these adventurous folks to take time out of their busy days to share with us what it was like for them.

We hope you enjoy their stories as much as we enjoyed being part of them.

Syuzanna Mejlumyan, Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center

I got certified as a Person-Centered Thinking Trainer on December 1st, 2023. It was unbelievable to realize that the remarkable journey I had been sharing with some amazingly experienced and knowledgeable people for almost a year was now over. That journey, however, could not seem that easy and beautiful should I not have the constant support of my always available, positive, and truly compassionate mentor, Andrea Schacht as well as the truly amazing HSA team.

Making the decision to take the PCT journey was a turning point in my career, as a professional, in my life, as a mother, and in my life, just as a person who belongs to herself; it indeed brought noticeable changes in every aspect of my life.

Interestingly, I started the journey not realizing what my exact destination was – all I knew and all that mattered was that I wanted to dive into this with an open mind and I was confident that I could succeed. I wanted to be open to change, open to making a change, open to accepting personal biases. The well-presented curriculum by TLCPCP and HSA team, my observations followed by demonstrations, weekly meetings and close partnership with my mentor brought light to every single piece of the puzzle that makes the bigger picture of the person-centered practices. No superficial approach is allowed: it requires full commitment, dedication, and true belief in the changes that the accurate implementation of these practices can bring into people’s life, into our life and into the lives of every single person we are surrounded by.

I am very grateful for this opportunity to my organization, Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center, for their trust in me, and to my mentor, Andrea Schacht, and all HSA team, for their guidance and support. Indeed, it was also an eye-opening experience as I was exploring my own self, trying to balance my own Important To’s and Important For’s. I will never stop doing that – that’s where you start understanding what is meant by person-centered skills, person-centered practices.

Angel Montoya, Tri-Counties Regional Center

The experience of becoming a Person-Centered Thinking trainer has made an enormous impact on me. It has enriched my professional life by helping me to hone my presentation skills and connecting me with other like-minded thought partners in my field. In addition, taking a deep dive into the PCT curriculum has opened my eyes to the possibilities that a Person-Centered approach can yield in areas outside of work (for example, I’ve been able to share one-page descriptions for my fiancé and I with our wedding planner to highlight what is Important To and For us in planning our special day). I owe so much of my learning to the support of HSA and, in particular, my mentor Jamie Markey, who was always available to answer questions, provide tips, and give valuable feedback to improve my training delivery!

Paula Johnson, The Arc of Ventura County

As I stand at the culmination of my Person-Centered Trainer Training, I am overwhelmed with a myriad of emotions. From the outset, I embarked on this journey with a sense of purpose and a desire to not only enhance my skills but to make a meaningful difference.

My journey began with anticipation and excitement, coupled with a tinge of nervousness. Stepping into the realm of person-centered training meant immersing myself in a philosophy that prioritizes the individual and their unique experiences.

Throughout the training, I found myself continually challenged and inspired. One of the most profound aspects of this training was the emphasis on authenticity and genuine human connection. I could not have made it through without the support, encouragement and kindness of my mentor Jamie Markey. She made me feel “Golden”.

I learned that effective training is not just about disseminating information; it is about fostering trust, building rapport, and creating a safe space for growth and exploration.

As I reflect on my journey filled with a deep sense of gratitude for the invaluable lessons learned, the connections made and my growth experience. Completing this training has not only equip me with practical skills but has also instilled in me a renewed sense of purpose and passion for empowering others.

Moving forward, I am eager to apply what I have learned in my role as a trainer and advocate for person-centered approaches. I am committed to creating inclusive learning environments where every voice is heard, every perspective is respected and every individual feels valued and supported.

In essence, completing Person-Centered Trainer Training has been more than just a professional achievement it has been a personal journey of growth and transformation. As I look to my next phase in life, I do so with a huge sense of excitement for the opportunities ahead of me.

Shawna Hall, Helen Sanderson Associates, USA

Looking back now, it seems my passion for person-centered thinking skills began when I first took the training myself in 2020. A friend mentioned that there was a last-minute spot available in a PCT training happening online. When I accepted her invitation, I had no idea of the hours of behind-the-scenes work Mary Beth Lepkowsky and Bob Sattler put into getting this person-centered thinking training ready to be delivered remotely. This was literally my first experience with anything online and I had no idea what zoom was.

The first thing that caught my attention was the warmth in the “room”, even though this was a virtual experience. I felt welcomed and invited on a new adventure at the same time. It was like coming home and flying through the air on a zip line, all in one experience.

During this past year, I have had the honor and privilege of expanding my person-centered thinking adventure and became a person-centered thinking trainer candidate in a cohort of dedicated professionals who are people I am now uniquely bonded with. Everything we did we did together with the direct, gentle guidance of our mentors. The most important direction they pointed us in, was towards each other for support. We shared trepidation. “No way, can I do THAT!” “I actually have to watch myself on video?!” “Does my voice really sound like THAT?”

Our mentors were candid and open with their personal experiences delivering the training. Getting to hear about their most horrifying bloopers, and seeing them laugh about it, made us less afraid of our own mistakes. I quickly lost count of the number of times I heard us say to each other, “whatever happens, we’ve got your back!” That’s exactly what we did, and it was one of the greatest ways to learn. It’s much easier to be brave when you’re doing it with a partner and five other people cheering you on behind the scenes. It’s also much easier to rise to a challenge when you know you are not alone and others are counting on you, we would hold each other steady while our confidence grew.

The process of becoming a person-centered thinking Trainer embodies the principles we are being trained to convey to others. The PCT Trainer candidate experience has been a chance to experience person-centered thinking at its best.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a Person-Centered Thinking Trainer please reach out to