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Shreveport therapist enters bittersweet retirement at 90

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Kate Archer Kent
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Professional counselor Barbara Thorne-Thomsen of Shreveport retired from her practice this month. She turned 90 last week. Over the decades, she called her patients “clients” and their struggles became part of the fabric of her life.

“I just think I got to know the finest people in the world. I cared about them, and I knew a lot about them. We walked a lot of miles together,” Thorne-Thomsen said.

The St. Paul, Minn.-native moved a lot in her early years of marriage. (Her husband was a construction superintendent). But the petite and vivacious Thorne-Thomsen set down roots in Shreveport when her oldest of four children entered first grade.

She’s seen many trends come and go in mental health therapy. But at the core, she says, is always taking time to listen and respond. She encourages a new generation of psychologists to keep an open mind.

“Learn everything you can. Go to all the different workshops. Sort them out. Don’t become wedded to one technique, and take care of yourself. Exercise and eat right,” Thorne-Thomson said, adding that she walks three miles daily.

Thorne-Thomsen says she tried to keep a healthy work/life balance and make adjustments as needed. She started the clinic Interactional Services with a colleague. It has seven licensed social workers and counselors on staff today.

“I always tried to balance home and not neglect either place. If one began to be weightier than the other I’d reevaluate and pull back on the number of clients I’d take because I was in charge. I worked for a group, but I always worked for myself,” she said.

Now with a lot more time on her hands, she plans to try out some new hobbies – perhaps learn to play bridge and adopt new exercise programs. Thorne-Thomsen’s been married 67 years.