Tag Archives: Counselors Audience

Counselors Audience

Q & A with a counselor: Teri Nehring

Heather Rudow September 28, 2012

Teri Nehring is an American Counseling Association member who works with individuals from all walks of life — from trauma victims to the Oneida Tribe of American Indians. As reiki master, certified breathworker and shamanic practitioner, Nehring says what she has found to work best with all of her counseling clients is an infusion of both Eastern and Western counseling approaches. Nehring says she truly believes that the utilization of both of these practices combined with energy work is the new wave of contemporary therapy. For more on Eastern and Western approaches to counseling, read Counseling Today’s October cover story, “Where East meets West.”

What techniques do you specialize in?

I specialize in mental health/drug and alcohol issues with an emphasis in trauma work and empowerment training. I have been able to blend reiki, breathwork, chakra clearing meditation, mindfulness and shamanic energy-based work in conjunction with traditional strength-based and talk therapy. I have developed my own model of working with clients using all of these tools called Luminous Energy Therapy — “luminous” meaning working with our energetic light or medicine body.

 How did you first get involved in Eastern techniques?

I became very interested in Eastern and shamanic energy healing seven years ago when I started to see an influx of clients who were trying to work through chronic pain, fatigue, trauma issues, depression and anxiety, to name a few. Traditional talk therapy combined with constant pain medications was not working to benefit the clients.

Describe a typical session with your clients.

A typical session starts with a dialogue about what the client would like to have more of in their life, and then energetically, I track with the client where the blockage around the core issue is in their energy body. I am looking for the chakra that is nearest to where they identify feeling the issue in their body. When we desire more of something in our life, we have to find the energetic block and identify the core issue or negative messages that we give ourselves. If the client wishes to give detail about the situation they can, but it is not necessary. I then ask the client to close their eyes and to hear and visualize the negative message and where do they feel it in their body. I work with the client to simplify the message.

For example, a client may say, “I never seem to feel confident in myself,” or, “I am always worried that others will not like me.” A core issue statement usually starts with the words “I am not” and then we narrow down what resonates with the client. In the example I used, the core issue may be “I am not good enough” or “I am not enough.”

Sixty percent of the time, people will tell me they feel it in their belly because energetically the belly is where feelings and emotions are energetically held. The other chakra many people feel those negative core issues in is the chest or heart chakra.

I work with the client to begin a connected breath. I also breathe with the client until they have established a steady breathing pattern. The breath is our life force. It is the fuel that powers the body, the amazing vehicle that allows our spirit to live and move around in. Cells have memory and they remember and record every event in our lives that we experience, so when we breathe, we are able to release the negative energy and take a new message and positive energy into the cells through oxygen. Oxygen is the fuel for the cells and through the connected breath we can begin to create a new cellular memory and message.

I use the technique of journeying to help the client identify a place that they feel is safe and that they love being. The client is allowed to bring anything with them except another living being into the sacred and safe place they create for themselves. I often will journey or go with people to their sacred space to do the connected breath work. People feel more relaxed and are able to begin to get in touch the core issue and negative feelings that surround the message.

When the connected breathwork begins and the chakra is opened, energy automatically begins to move along with the emotions connected to it. I coach people to continue to breathe as the emotions begin to arise and move through and out of the body. It is important that people continue to breathe because often when we feel negative emotions, we stop breathing and then the body holds the negative energy. When the energy is held it usually finds the weakest area and our body and locks itself in. This often becomes the origin for chronic pain and fatigue along with a host of other physical ailments.

Once the client begins to release the energy, I continue to track with the client what are they feeling in their body and where. Energy can sometimes become stuck, so I work to open other chakras as the energy moves so it can be released through that chakra.

Once the energy is released, many times there is inner child work that needs to take place. I will again journey with the client to their sacred place or sanctuary to begin working with the child within through a dialogue that starts the process of nurturing and restoring what the inner child most needs to feel safe and loved.

If the inner child work needs to done, I work with the client to develop his or her own new positive core message starting again with “I am.” I have the client repeat the new positive message out loud three times while holding their hands on top of their heart. This helps them bring awareness and a new message in to the cells and is received on a soul level.

This is the spiritual piece of the work, which then unites and completes the integration of mind, body and spirit, which most traditional therapies cannot help our clients to do. All the chakras that were unwound and opened are then closed as they are now clear of any negative energy.

The client is given a notecard to record the new message or affirmation on and is directed to keep the notecard in a place where they will see it several times a day. Every time they see the card they are asked to say the affirmation out loud to themselves.

An assignment that creates action and meaning connected to the session work that has been completed is given to help the client nurture themselves. This allows the client to honor the sacred and powerful work they have completed and to continue to help integrate the new positive message on an energetic and cognitive level.

When we begin to understand that the body is more than just physical, that is has several subtle energetic fields that surround it, we can then begin the process of helping clients to heal and restore on all levels.

In this work, I find that I can help a client to resolve and to restore themselves on all levels 50 percent faster than traditional talk therapy. A typical client can create a meaningful and strengths-based resolution in three to five sessions. Clients also are given tools that allow them to practice the process outside of the therapy session.

What kinds of clients do you see?

I see clients [ranging from] teenagers to adults with mental health, alcohol and other drug abuse, and trauma issues. I also am a personal trainer and work [with] clients who want to take part in personal/business empowerment and transformation by understanding their authenticity, speaking their truth, owning it and stepping into themselves.

Why do you believe it is important it to integrate Eastern and Western approaches to counseling?

I believe that many of the Western modalities only address mind and body. When we begin to understand the principles of the Eastern practices, then we begin to come from a place of integrating the spiritual pieces that complete our healing on a soul level.

What kinds of misconceptions arise — if any — surrounding your techniques?

Fear is the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of understanding and progress. We are creatures of habit and this rings true even in the counseling field. We all have our favorite modalities that we are confident in working with. Sometimes it is difficult to allow oneself to get out of the box and experience something that may be outside of our comfort zone.

What sort of counselors do you recommend trying Eastern approaches?

I believe Eastern modalities should be encouraged for all types of counselors to look at the potential of how they can integrate these approaches and tools into their practice for the benefit of their clients.

Where should counselors look for more information about the subject?

Counselors can find information all over the Internet and in bookstores. Keywords are energy therapy, holistic approaches to healing, reiki, shamanism and breathwork.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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Get to know Will Stroble, director of ACA’s new Center for Counseling Practice, Policy and Research

Heather Rudow September 24, 2012

Will Stroble is the American Counseling Association’s newest employee and the first director of ACA’s new Center for Counseling Practice, Policy and Research. The Center’s goal is to produce products and research that will increase public awareness of the counseling field, as well as materials that will result in more professionals being able to practice. He is looking forward to using his decades of experience in the counseling and passion for the profession to advocate for and empower counselors nationwide.

Where did you work before coming to ACA?
Prior to joining ACA, I worked for the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) in Arlington, Va., as a school counselor. I worked with high school students in a virtual environment around the world, including Europe and countries in the Pacific such as Japan, Korea and Australia.

As a counselor, why did you want to work for ACA? What did you think of the organization?
I have always enjoyed working with people who reach out to help others. That’s what we, as counselors, do on a day-to-day basis. When I made the decision to join the ACA staff, I believed that I was making a wise decision because, through my work at ACA, I will be able to effect systemic, positive changes for all people and make changes on a broader scale that will empower people, thereby making this world a better place for everyone, regardless of the barriers and challenges that people face in their daily lives.

What does your position entail?
My position entails developing from the ground up the infrastructure for archiving, disseminating and promoting exemplary counseling practice information and resources for professional counselors, counselor educators, supervisors, students, legislators, the media and other consumers of applied counseling knowledge. My position also allows me to advocate for optimum counselor work and training conditions. My vision for the Center is that it will be seen as both the premier place to obtain information and resources that focus on cutting-edge counseling practices and will serve as the focus of the counseling profession’s advocacy efforts for high-quality workforce conditions.

What future goals do you have regarding your position?
I have many future goals, such as networking with other well-known colleagues in the counseling profession and leading the efforts on behalf of counselors to gather information and data on best practices in the profession, working with public policy staff to advocate for my colleagues and securing grants and funding for cutting-edge research in the counseling profession.

Other thoughts?
I am humbled and honored to have joined the staff at ACA as a counseling leader in the profession. After 33-plus years in the profession, having worked at the local, state, federal and now national levels, I am excited about this challenge and look forward, with great anticipation, to working alongside my professional counseling colleagues in the field. As we collaboratively and collectively work to make this world a better place for all people through our practice, I pledge humbly to accept the charge for the challenges, expectations and confidence that have been placed before — and in — me by ACA’s outstanding and most impressive leadership team, and all ACA members and constituents who have bestowed this sacred trust in me.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.
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Fathers aim to change FMLA guidelines to include child bereavement

Heather Rudow September 19, 2012

(Photo:Wikimedia Commons)

The American Counseling Association has extended its support to an initiative that, if passed by Congress, would amend the benefits of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include bereavement and allow employees who have experienced the death of a child to take time off for the healing process.

The Farley-Kluger Initiative is the brainchild of Kelly Farley, author and founder of the Grieving Dads Project, and Barry Kluger, author and CEO of the MISS Foundation, a nonprofit organization providing immediate and long-term support to families after the death of a child.

The men first connected in 2010.

“I was looking on the Internet for other parents who had written books about grief,” says Kluger, “and [Farley] was running his Grieving Dads blog. We spoke on the phone, and as we discussed our common interests, the subject of taking time off for grieving parents came up and the initiative came from there.”

Kluger is the author of the book A Life Undone: A Father’s Journey Through Loss and Farley is the author of Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back.

“Grief has no half-life,” says Kluger. “The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 provides up to 12 weeks’ unpaid leave if you have a child, adopt a child, care for a sick family member, or you yourself are ill or an injured service member. Yet, if you lose a child, most companies give two to three days of bereavement leave.”

Because current FMLA guidelines provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave, the men believe that leaving the current statute as is would be the easiest way to modify the bill. However, Kluger says, they are open to a lesser six-week period if suggested.

In January 2011, Farley and Kluger decided to turn their efforts into an online petition and invite others from across the country to support the cause. Currently, 40,463 people have signed the petition, which then sends emails to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

The petition garnered more traction in August 2011 when Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) decided to support Kluger and Farley’s cause. He introduced the Parental Bereavement Act of 2011, which is currently sitting in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions with five co-sponsors. Kluger and Farley have met with more than 50 members of Congress to get a similar bill introduced in the House of Representatives. They hope to see this happen in 2013.

While they wait for Congress, Farley and Kluger have scheduled a rally on the steps of the U.S. Capitol for Feb. 5, the 20th anniversary of the passing of FMLA.

In addition to ACA, the Farley-Kluger Initiative has received support from the National Association of Social Workers, Parents of Murdered Children, The MISS Foundation, The JED Foundation, BlueStar Families and Gold Star Support Network, among others.

Grief is not only hard on parents and families, says Kluger, it is also costly. According to the Grief Recovery Institute, bereavement costs U.S. businesses more than $75 billion annually due to lost productivity.

Kluger describes grappling with the death of his daughter, who died in a car accident in April 2001, while also trying to keep up the pace at his job in an editorial he wrote for USA Today:

“Although the workplace provided me the distraction I needed, a foundation, I would sink into the blackest of depressions in a matter of seconds, without warning. It was then that I’d head for the door and go home.”

“We just want the healing process to begin and to be a suitable amount of time to adjust to the new ‘normal,’” Kluger says.

Additionally, he says, “We think the definition of child should be up to age 26 to include causes such as military deaths, victims of violent crime [and] suicides, which statistics show are greater in the over-18 [age] group, keeping it in line with the Affordable Care Act, which covers children in insurance up to 26 years old.”

Kluger and Farley know from experience the importance of taking time to grieve properly before attempting to re-enter “normal life.”

As a man, Farley adds, it can be especially difficult to come to terms with these feelings. “One of the things I noticed after I lost my children is the difficulty I had as a dad [and as a] guy to actually go to a counselor,” says Farley. “I felt it was a sign of weakness that I couldn’t do this on my own.  I learned the hard way that it’s OK to ask for help.”

After going through the experience of losing his two children, Farley is now in the process of obtaining his master’s in counseling from Northern Illinois University.

He says grieving parents can often experience trauma as a result of losing their child. “I interviewed hundreds of grieving dads for my book,” Farley says, “and the one thing most of them mentioned were symptoms of PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder). Many parents were with their child [when they died] or received the news in ways that impacted them. Many deal with [symptoms such as] nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety attacks [and] suicidal thoughts that are not often present in other losses. Having the 12 weeks to start the process of healing and comprehending what they have gone through is crucial to recovery. Not everyone will need it up front, but they may as a few months go by and the reality of what they went through has hit them.”

The American Counseling Association is proud to lend its backing to this initiative because it keeps with its long-standing mission of supporting counselor and client needs.

“ACA and its members have long been advocates for sensible policies impacting families, parents, children, adolescents and others,” says ACA Executive Director and CEO Richard Yep. “Those families impacted by the horrific loss of a child need time to deal with their grief and how best to move forward. The work of the Farley-Kluger initiative is clearly supportive of that need. ACA is proud to be a partner in this coalition of helping professionals and consumers.”

 For more information, visit farleykluger.com, grievingdads.com, missfoundation.org and alifeundone.com.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.


Q & A with a counselor: Kendal M. Tucker

Heather Rudow September 14, 2012

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Kendal M. Tucker, president-elect of the Idaho Counseling Association, a branch of the American Counseling Association, uses faith-based counseling techniques to help her clients do just that. She helps individuals find relief from difficult thoughts and events that have impacted their lives by using faith to guide them through the process.

 Tucker notes that both secular and non-secular counselors can sometimes be misguided about what faith-based counseling actually is. But, she says, once counselors understand how to properly use this approach, it can be a positive, useful tool in their practice.

Describe how you first got involved in faith-based counseling:

Upon graduating with my master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, I pursued my licensing credentials with the state of Idaho. I am aware that the term “faith-based” is multidimensional, but for clarity’s sake in this article, I will refer to it as Christian counseling. From day one of my profession, I have marketed myself as a counselor who provides a multimodal approach, including a strong Christian perspective when specifically requested by the client.

 What is a typical session like with your clients?

I conduct the intake session the same with every client. My therapeutic approach centers around cognitive behavioral, sprinkled with other integrative modalities. I combine psychotherapy with a Christian viewpoint when requested. If a client asks for an emphasis in Christian counseling, I invite them to share their definition of “faith-based” counseling. I ask them to describe their needs and wants regarding their Christian faith. I am respectful to the client’s wishes and will share scriptures and prayer as requested. The client is in the driver’s seat as to how much or how little we discuss their faith.

What is usually the main focus or aim?

The main focus is the client’s needs. I consider therapy a partnership and allow the client to dictate the pace of therapy. If the client chooses to talk about their faith in relation to their situation, I follow their lead. My aim is not to tell them right from wrong but assist them in discovering their faith as it may apply to their situation.

What kinds of clients do you see?

My client base consists mostly of children, women and families. I utilize child-directed play therapy for children who have a trauma history. I implement parenting psychoeducation as well as addressing women’s issues. My clients are from many walks of life with varying faiths.

 What interventions do you find to be the most effective?

I utilize many cognitive behavioral interventions with all clients. Regarding faith-based counseling, I might suggest to a client to find some scriptures that they feel [are] relevant to their situation and encourage them to integrate the scriptures into their daily life (i.e., through prayer, personal affirmations). Or I might share a scripture with a client and then ask them to describe what it means to them and how they can apply it to their life. Sometimes I invite the client to listen to a particular faith-based song and discuss how it impacts them. Prayer is also a beneficial intervention.

What kinds of misconceptions arise — if any — surrounding faith-based counseling?

I think misconceptions abound regarding faith-based counseling from both sides of the religious and secular fence. There are many terms used to reference a Christian counselor, such as a counselor who is a Christian, pastoral counselor, faith-based [or] biblical Christian counselor. With all these varied terms, it can be difficult to find a definition that is accepted and understood by everyone. I believe God places qualified and gifted people in the counseling field to be an instrument of wisdom and healing. There are those from a secular viewpoint that believe Christian counselors only want to proselytize and tell the client right from wrong. My heart and passion is to provide a safe, therapeutic environment where peace, love, grace and forgiveness are welcome and where I can integrate spiritual principles with evidenced-based practice.

 What steps do you recommend counseling students take who are interested in this approach?

If a counseling student wants to explore the world of faith-based counseling, I would strongly recommend they seek out other counseling professionals who are implementing their faith into the therapeutic setting. In regards to the Christian emphasis, I would encourage the graduate students to inquire as to what Christian counseling means to the professional, as well as determining what it means to them personally. This would then assist them in making important steps toward building their niche.

Where do you see faith-based counseling going in the future?

The need for faith-based counseling appears to be increasing. According to the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, 83 percent of Americans believe their faith is directly related to their emotional and mental health. Seventy-five percent state that seeing a professional mental health provider who shares similar values and beliefs is significant to their overall health.

 Is there anything else you would like to add?

It seems apparent to me that there is gross misunderstanding in both the religious and secular world as to the role of a faith-based counselor. I am hopeful that there could be more dialogue and less judgment thrown at the discussion. All therapists, whether secular or spiritual, should seek first to understand the needs of each client and then do the best they can to provide avenues for health and recovery.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention aims to save 20,000 lives over next five years

Heather Rudow September 12, 2012

(Surgeon General Regina Benjamin speaks at the NSSP reveal. Photo:National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention)

On Sept. 10, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance), along with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, revealed the revised version of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (NSSP). The strategy,  revised after nearly a decade of research, aims to place more focus on the roles Americans can play in protecting friends, family members and colleagues from suicide. The NSSP also aims to help schools, businesses and health systems create guidelines of their own and lead the way in suicide prevention activities in the future.

“We are in a unique position to make significant progress in reducing the burden of suicide in our country,” said Jerry Reed, director of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) in a press release. “With the release of this revised strategy and the focus on its first four priorities, the Action Alliance is leading the suicide prevention agenda at the national level.”

Reed co-led the Action Alliance task force, along with Surgeon General Benjamin, that guided the revision process.

The revised NSSP features 13 goals and 60 objectives to advance suicide prevention. The Action Alliance has chosen four priorities to focus on first with the aim of saving 20,000 lives in the next five years.  The Action Alliance said that it chose these priorities because of their “potential to produce the systems-level change necessary to substantially lower the burden of suicide in our nation.”

The Action Alliance stated the following as its initial priorities:

 1. Integrate suicide prevention into health care reform and encourage the adoption of similar measures in the private sector.  The Action Alliance will work in partnership with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to take advantage of the exceptional opportunities health care reform offers to make large-scale system changes that can prevent suicide and save lives. Successful integration into health care reform will naturally spill over into private health systems.

2. Transform health care systems to significantly reduce suicide. The Action Alliance will promote the adoption of “zero suicides” as an organizing goal for clinical systems by providing support for efforts to transform care through leadership, policies, practices and outcome measurement.  This priority will build on the momentum of the 2011 report released by the Action Alliance’s Clinical Care and Intervention Task Force, Suicide Care in Systems Framework. The Action Alliance will recruit pioneer health and behavioral health systems from across the country to implement this innovative framework within their respective organizations and will provide the support and tools needed to provide state-of-the art suicide care.

3. Change the public conversation around suicide and suicide prevention. The Action Alliance will leverage the media and national leaders to change the narratives around suicide and suicide prevention to ones that promote hope, connectedness, social support, resilience, treatment and recovery. Current media coverage and messaging around suicide can often do more harm than good by using language and ideas that make suicide seem more common than it actually is, especially when it is a response to difficult situations such as bullying, financial crisis and repeated exposure to military combat. This priority will instead be to promote stories about individuals who struggled with difficult situations, yet were resilient, found help or treatment, and established a stronger will to go on living. In reality, this is what happens the vast majority of the time. It will also promote the cultural norm of providing help and support to vulnerable members of our communities, and through that, change the course for those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide.

4. Increase the quality, timeliness and usefulness of surveillance data regarding suicidal behaviors. The Action Alliance will work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public and private partners to markedly improve statistics on suicidal behaviors. Currently, there is a three-year lag time with national suicide data. Speeding up the release of these data will allow policy and program developers to better understand the problem of suicide, monitor real-time trends in suicidal behavior and assess the effectiveness of suicide prevention work .

Click here to read the latest version of the NSSP. For more information about the Action Alliance, visit actionallianceforsuicideprevention.org.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.