A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Debra Farrar-Schneider

A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Debra Farrar-Schneider

Debra Farrar-Schneider grew up in Mississippi and resided there for some time before moving on to live in the Region, where she’s been for almost 29 years now. The thing she perhaps misses the most about the South is the food, with the selections over here not being as spicy. Despite no longer getting as much pleasure from certain dishes, she’s made a steady life for herself as a psychologist. The satisfaction she gets from doing what she does makes up for the mild taste of Midwestern cuisine. She’s discovered fulfillment in owning Behavior Specialists of Indiana, a center that specializes in offering quality services promoting treatments that leads to overall well-being. 

Farrar-Schneider loves to spend time with her family. Her daughter recently ignited an interest in pickleball within her, so she’s been building up her skills on local courts throughout the past four months. Even if the games she plays don’t involve or require rackets and plastic balls, she’s still all in, as she likes to attempt to complete jigsaw puzzles, for example. 

Coming up on the company’s celebration of 25 years, Farrar-Schneider has seen the daily workings of her business for a quarter of a century. A regular routine’s been a difficult dime to walk by, but nevertheless, she has been able to understand everything about what she does that makes it fun, engaging, and worthwhile. What matters above all else is the dedication she has toward genuinely inspiring change in the world. 

“I primarily provide services for individuals with developmental disabilities, and so my favorite part of the job is making a difference. I love our team, and I love that I can learn from everyone, that we can collaborate and talk about difficult cases,” she said. 

Located in her home state, Farrar-Schneider got her bachelor’s degree at Millsaps College in Jackson. From there, she jumped to Louisiana State University (LSU) to earn both her master’s and PhD. An internship experience at the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins, an esteemed program that set her apart from others in her field, followed the completion of her education. Accolades alone aren’t the sole divider between her and her fellow psychologists—it’s also been a long-lasting willingness she’s possessed to collaborate and simply be of service to all. 

“My goal is always to help clients be more independent and able to succeed and live on their own. I want to give them happy, productive lives. It's really fun for me to see my clients make some significant progress. I love working with the young kids, too, because you set them up for success. Not a lot of joys are comparable to seeing other people grow, and that’s why I’m there for others,” she said. 

Therapy of most kinds is dependent upon connections. While Farrar-Schneider has and continues to read about the great psychologists of today and those of years past, her attention isn’t constantly being taken off its feet by results that were brought forth by only one of the pioneers of psychology, so to say. Instead, her approach is eclectic. Still, that which allows her to shine has to do with how she focuses on forming bonds as strong as steel with her clients. 

“The important part about therapy is having a healthy connection with your therapist. Research tells us that it really doesn't matter what your theoretical base is; people are more likely to make progress in therapy if they have a good connection with their therapist. Getting there sometimes means starting with where your clients are at,” she said. 

Besides the phenomenal people she works alongside, in the almost-three decades Farrar-Schneider’s been living in Valparaiso, she’s quickly taken notice of the emphasized value the city puts on family. Everybody may seemingly know everybody in the area from which she hails, but nobody goes about pushing forward the notions of a close-knit family quite like the Hoosiers here. 

“Valpo is a very family-oriented community, so I’ve really enjoyed being a part of that. There are lots of things to do here for families, things that can be done together, and I like that the best,” she said.