We speak With Rebecca Lucas about counseling, what types of counseling her group provides and what EMDR is, how to talk with someone if we feel they need counseling and how a person should approach counseling if they think they need it.
Link to Christian Counseling Services- https://christiancounselingservicesaz.com/
Things Rebecca Recommends in our talk:
Brenae Brown-The Power of Vulnerability
Speaker 0 00:03 Welcome to the Southwest life podcast with your host, me, Vicki DeLuzio, where we will talk about things to boost your health, improve your relationships, find new things to do with your family, and talk with business owners in the area. And more. Thanks for being here and enjoy the show.
Speaker 1 00:27 Thank you, Rebecca, for joining us with Christian counseling services. Uh, today on our program we would like to just chat with you about, um, what you do with Christian counseling surfaces. Um, but can you first tell us a little bit about yourself and your family? Yeah, absolutely.
Speaker 2 00:45 I am, I’m a mom of two girls. Uh, I live in surprise in the West Valley. Uh, we’ve lived here for about 10 years. Um, we have community connections. We’ve been to churches out here. We homeschooled out here for a lot of years. Um, I am, uh, you know, just really, really excited to, you know, for Christian counseling services to have opened an office here in surprise. Um, and I, I don’t know, I was just really passionate about it. And where did Christian counseling services start? So Christian counseling services was founded by Jenn Cecil. Uh, Jen is a counselor. She counseled out in the community for a lot of years. Uh, she’s got a lot of wisdom, a lot of experience, and she really, really, um, had a passion for, um, you know, counseling in the church. Uh, for a long, long time. There seems to have been a stigma about mental health services in the church.
Speaker 2 01:51 Um, and so what she really, really wanted to do was she wanted to find a way to integrate that professional help with faith-based principles because, um, a lot of people in the community weren’t comfortable going to counselors that weren’t familiar with their belief system, uh, who might suggest things that they weren’t comfortable with or, uh, who were, uh, you know, a little too secular. And so she founded the company and I was just her for a long, long time. And then she decided to bring on more people because she ended up turning a lot of people away. She would get full and she just couldn’t take on more clients. And so she took on a first one person and then two people. And three people. And now we’ve grown. I mean I think I lose track cause we’re adding new people all the time and I think we’re over 20 now and she’s got offices all over the Valley.
Speaker 2 02:34 Um, and so we just, I don’t know. Our niche, our specialty or focus is providing faith-based services, you know, the integrate with Christian beliefs. Well, um, from a roots focused trauma informed perspective and we’re all trained in EMDR, which is a really neat kind of treatment. Uh, that works really well for a lot of people. And that’s, you know, that’s just kind of what we do. Oh. So, um, why did you want to get into counseling? That’s a great question. I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else from the time I was in middle school. Okay. I’m going to start it out. I was like, Oh, I want to be a marriage and family therapist. And then it was like, Oh, I want to be a counseling psychologist. And then finally, you know, I landed when it was time to make a career choice, I landed with the professional counselor, um, degree program.
Speaker 2 03:26 Cause that seemed to have kind of the widest application in terms of working with general mental health issues. Uh, so I, I can’t ever remember wanting to do anything else ever in my life as a career. Maybe with the exception of being a mom, you know, that’s really important to me. Um, but yeah, it’s just always been my thing. Um, so you mentioned a lot of different counseling services that you provide. Um, and even with my background in psychology, um, I don’t know if I know all of those. Could you, um, give us like an overview of what that means to someone who’s not really familiar with, with that? Um, you said something about trauma based and um, EMDR, can you give us a overview of what that is? Sure. So there has been a major shift, um, you know, in the last many years in mental health, um, to recognize the impact that trauma has on people.
Speaker 2 04:21 Um, initially it was just kind of thought that you could go through, you know, normal life experiences and emerge pretty unscathed. And in fact, most people do. You know, most people have the inner resources to be able to, you know, kind of go through setbacks and challenges and painful experiences and they come out and you know, they, they feel still pretty good. They’re pretty functioning. But increasingly what the research is showing is that trauma can take many forms. We have what we call big T traumas and little T traumas, which is reflective of this idea that trauma is not necessarily going to be a headline grabbing experience. It’s not only assault car accident combat. It’s also things, you know, like if you had an emotionally absent parent, if you were bullied in school, if you, you know, had kind of a chronic lack in your life, um, as a child, you know, there wasn’t enough food or there wasn’t enough, um, safety where you lived.
Speaker 2 05:20 Um, breakups, job changes, um, all kinds of stuff moving. I mean, all of these things could fall under the category of kind of chronic longterm trauma or little T traumas. Things that other people might not think of as particularly traumatic putter. And essentially what ends up happening is, you know, we kind of go through these painful experiences and the, the system in our brain that allows us to adapt to these challenging situations and function pretty well. Every once in awhile gets overloaded and we might feel really intense feelings of terror or, or anxiety, um, we might not feel safe. And so what happens is our brain is constantly taking in sensory information. We see things, we hear things, we smell things. Um, and we make sense of all those experiences. And because, you know, we’re not, uh, animals like dogs and cats, right? We have a more sophisticated brain.
Speaker 2 06:18 So our brain is trying to constantly put together the pieces in a way that makes sense. And so, you know, let’s say someone goes through an experience and they have an emotionally absent parent. Maybe a parent is struggling with an addiction or something and you know, they’re having these experiences where they’re taking on all these big responsibilities and um, you know, this is really difficult for them. It comes with a lot of anxiety. They’re storing these memories and as they’re making sense of them, what ends up emerging is a belief about themselves and the belief about themselves might be something like I’m powerless or I’m responsible. And then anytime there’s any situation in life that’s even remotely similar, it can get stored in that same network. With that belief, I’m responsible and it ends up causing problems because that adaptive processing that our brain can normally do get stalled out.
Speaker 2 07:06 So that’s where EMDR comes into trauma work. Um, trauma informed care means identifying trauma. And the EMDR piece is talking about how we are able to activate the brain’s adaptive information processing system again. So what we’ll do is we’ll identify when was the first time that this belief came into play that I’m powerless or I’m responsible. Um, and you know, sometimes it’s even more intense things, you know, I’m worthless or I’m inadequate or I’m defective. When we figured out the first time that it happened, we call that the touchstone. And the touchstone is a traumatic experience, whether it’s big or little. Um, that holds a lot of the heat. If we can address that EMDR kind of generalizes forward. And then all the other experiences that came after that that were stored in that same way and that same negative memory network have a lot less power all the way up into the present.
Speaker 2 07:59 And so then what we see is we see a lot of benefit in the present, our relationships, improve our moods, improve our ability to make decisions, um, all kinds of stuff. And um, so this is not something that we need to, you know, teach clients how to do. It’s something their brains already know how to do. We just kind of guide them through the process. Wow. That seems like it has a lot of, of facets to it. There’s a lot of talking that must go into just trying to pinpoint that spot. You know, surprisingly it’s not as much talking as traditional talk therapy. EMDR, we do definitely do the talk therapy piece because it’s important to feel safe with your counselor. Right. Otherwise you’re not going to have, you’re not going to be able to deal with anything painful. So you do the talk therapy.
Speaker 2 08:47 It’s important to talk about coping skills and all that stuff. Um, and then once you’ve established the relationship, um, the EMDR piece is actually pretty straight forward and doesn’t require a lot of, I don’t necessarily need to know all the details of someone’s traumatic experience. They don’t need to explain it in depth to me. Um, and relive it in depth to me. Um, they, you know, the EMDR protocol is written in such a way where it’s just really, really efficient at helping clients drill down. The brain knows where it’s stuck. Um, I, I don’t necessarily have to do anything other than follow my client’s brain as it’s making the connections. Wow. It’s really fascinating.
Speaker 1 09:25 That does sound fascinating. Um, how, how does someone know if they need counseling? What, um, is there a way for someone to get unstuck? How would someone say, you know what, this is the point where I need counseling.
Speaker 2 09:41 Hmm. It’s an excellent question. Um, and I think that some of the things I hear most often, um, that question about, you know, I don’t even know if I need to be here or I don’t know if counseling is even going to work for me. I’ve just always been this way. Okay. Um, so it’s a really good question. That’s something I think that’s on a lot of people’s minds. Um, so number one, recognizing that it’s really normal, trusting that number two, I’m a qualified mental health professional is not going to create problems that aren’t there. Right? So if there’s an issue there, they’re going to kind of help you nail that down. And if there’s really not an issue there, if counseling is not something that’s going to be helpful, then you know, it’s not like the person’s going to recommend, well, I think you need therapy three times a week because you know, this, that, or the other thing.
Speaker 2 10:31 So, you know, mental health professionals go through a lot of training to be able to recommend the right type of care. So in the same way that I would maybe talk to someone who had a severe mental illness about seeing someone who maybe had some experience with, you know, prescribing medications or maybe a different type of, uh, more comprehensive therapy. Um, counseling. We look at a lot of things. We look at relationships. What’s the quality of your relationships? Are you happy in them? Do you feel like they’re equal? You know, are you constantly the one that’s jumping in and helping and fixing? Or are you constantly the one that’s being asked to do things? Um, are your boundaries being respected? Counseling can help with that. You know, there’s that old, um, kind of cliche that goes around from time to time. It’s like some people go to counseling to deal with the people in their life that won’t go to counseling.
Speaker 2 11:18 And that’s very true, that relationships that can be really, really difficult. Um, some people come because they need to make a career decision and they’re feeling a little indecisive, a little stuck. They’re not quite sure what their options are. Uh, some people need to make a decision in relationships. You know, our relationship has this negative cycle that keeps repeating over and over and over again. The tension builds. We blow up, we react negatively to each other. We damage trust, we damage a sense of comfort and security and connection. And we’re doing the best we can, but we just don’t know what we’re doing wrong. Um, counseling can help, you know, if kiddos are struggling with an adjustment, a lot of times, you know, kids are pretty resilient things, you know, they can go through changes to life moves, new cities, new schools, uh, someone gets sick.
Speaker 2 12:05 Even someone dying, like kiddos can adjust to this stuff with a lot of, um, flexibility and resiliency. But every once in a while, even a kiddo goes through something and it’s so much change that they just need a little bit of extra support as they kind of adjust to that. So in counseling, particularly professional counseling, we’re really, really focused on wellness, which means that if someone comes to us and they’re saying, you know, I kind of don’t know if I need counseling. Um, one of the things that we look at is, you know, kind of what is your standard of wellness? You know, what do you want your life to be like and is it that way or is there something blocking that from happening for you? And if something’s blocking it from happening, that’s when we kind of look at, okay, what’s that block? What’s that? What’s that place that you’re stuck? And kind of helping clients map that out and, um, get that information so that they can make better decisions about what they want to do.
Speaker 1 12:57 That makes sense. I know when my husband got back from Afghanistan, his, his brother passed away. And, um, I knew he had a hard time adjusting, not only adjusting back to civilian life, but with, um, someone who passed away, his, his brother. Um, and I saw that it was, um, just really rough. And my husband has spoken about it, so I feel free to speak about it too. Um, and so I suggested counseling to him and he said, yep, I need it. So, um, we had a very open relationship where I could say, I think, I think you need some help. Like we talked about it and I knew it was beyond my expertise, um, of just being his spouse like he needed, he needed someone more than me to vent to. Um, is there a way to suggest to someone else, like I think you need some help or is that um, per person or per relationship or is that something, a boundary that you shouldn’t cross? Like w w what is your suggestion?
Speaker 2 13:57 I think those are excellent points. A lot of it has to do with your relationship with the person. Um, a lot of it has to do with whether or not that person has asked for help from you. I think that sometimes what we do is in our eagerness to help someone else. We jumped the gun a little bit and you know, we overstepped just a little bit because of our desire for that person to feel better. Um, how hard it is to see them in pain. Um, and so even if maybe they’ve not asked us for help, you know, we know help is out there. We know their life could be better, but in doing so, sometimes we take away from them an opportunity to get there at the right time. Um, because very few people who are forced to go to therapy, um, you know, are ready to be there right in that moment, the first time they come in, sometimes they have to be there regardless, right?
Speaker 2 14:50 If someone’s danger, if they’re in crisis, if they’re having suicidal thoughts, um, if they’re hurting someone else in their life. I mean, obviously that’s a, that’s a safety issue and it’s absolutely okay at that point to initiate the conversation and say, you know, I’m really, really concerned. I’m really worried and I really want to be helpful, but I don’t think I have what it takes. And I’m wondering if maybe it’s time to talk to a professional. Um, but you know, very rarely are those crisis situations. The reason why we want someone to go to counseling more often than not, it’s just because we see them in pain and struggling. And so I think my advice would be to watch for those opportunities. You know, when they do kind of come and they’re struggling and they’re having a hard time and they want support, maybe they want a little bit of help.
Speaker 2 15:35 Maybe that’s the time to, you know, kind of say I care for you a lot and it hurts me to see you in so much pain. But exactly like you said to your husband, I don’t think that I really have the right skills or training to really, really make an impact and make a difference for you. And I think maybe a professional would, um, you know, I think one of the most life changing things that I heard from anyone, I actually heard from my own therapist and she said something. She goes, you know, when people ask for help, you know, we love to jump in and give advice and suggestions. That’s everyone’s kind of preferred go-to. She goes, you know, but a lot of times people are asking for a different type of help. And so we really need to be alert and attuned to that.
Speaker 2 16:19 Maybe they just want someone to listen to them vent. Maybe they just want someone to, you know, be a shoulder to cry on. Maybe they need a different perspective, a little bit of feedback. Um, so kind of knowing, you know, how to choose your moment is really, really important because if someone comes to you and they’re feeling a little vulnerable and they come to vent and you immediately jumped to, well, you know, that’s not normal. You need to go see someone to talk about that. I mean, you’ve kind of ruined an opportunity for that person to view you as safe. So the attitude matters, the timing matters. Um, so that would kinda, those would be my ideas about that. Yeah. Some of the worst things you can say to me when I’m upset, I see, you know, what you should do. My husband knows. Those are words, apt to say it’s 12 years of marriage experience. That’s experience.
Speaker 1 17:06 Um, uh, and I know, um, one of the things that you’ve talked about, um, is also, um, and it’s in your profile is, um, building your own self worth. Um, and, and that’s a hard thing I think for women especially is, is knowing that, you know, you’re, you’re strong and you have a place in this world. Um, so do you have like reading suggestions, things that you’ve learned along the way that you’d want to, um, in part in poop in people and not just women, but I think everyone needs their own, um, reason for, for being here, their own meaning of life. What, what suggestions do you have for finding that?
Speaker 2 17:43 Mm, that’s amazing. So one of my, uh, my two favorite authors on the topic are Brenae Brown and she writes a lot. She’s really, really popular. She’s well known by a lot of people, but Brenae Brown, and even if you’re not a reader, she has some Ted talks that you can find online that are really helpful. She does a lot of work with kind of the fear of vulnerability and what keeps us from being vulnerable and not just with other people, but what keeps us from kind of being vulnerable even with ourselves. Um, you know, kind of taking an honest inventory of how we feel about ourself. Um, how we’re doing, um, how we’re measuring up, um, without triggering feelings of shame. And so she talks a lot about that. And I found that that’s a really good foundation for anyone who wants to feel better about themselves, is to try to kind of dissect a little bit about what is it that I have absorbed, what beliefs have I absorbed about myself that makes me feel like I’m not good enough?
Speaker 2 18:40 Where is that coming from? When did it develop? And what happens if I’m vulnerable enough to say I’m not perfect, I’m just human. This is who I am. This is the way I was made. And being okay with the idea that, you know, we do have, you know, spots where, you know, we’re human and not perfect. The other author that I really, really love, um, her name is Kristin Neff, N E S S and she writes a lot about self-compassion and I feel like between Renee Brown and her focus on kind of how shame shuts us down and the importance of vulnerability and authenticity. Kristin Neff brings into the conversation the importance of self compassion. I find so often I’ll be sitting with clients and as I’m asking them, you know what it is that’s running through their, their minds. What’s that negative belief about themselves? Um, it is so incredibly cruel, that inner, that inner critic, that inner self-talk.
Speaker 2 19:39 I mean, I’ve, I’ve heard people say things about themselves that they would never in a million years say to someone else, yeah, you know, I’m useless, I’m worthless. Um, you know, I’m broken, I’m defective. And I find, you know, what compassion or what self-compassion introduces into that is this idea that we can be a kind and compassionate friend to ourself. And when we have those moments, one of Kristen Neffs best examples was she’s talking about a plane trip she was taking with her son and her son has really, really severe autism. And he was really struggling. And he was, you know, um, there was a lot of behavior going on. There was a lot of overstimulation going on. She’s trapped in an airplane with him. And it was triggering a lot of shame and guilt of course, because, um, you know, she wanted to, she wanted to, um, you know, kind of be a good mom.
Speaker 2 20:31 She wanted everyone to see that she was, um, you know, handling the situation and, and here was her son who just looked out of control to anyone else. And so, you know, initially she’s struggling and she goes in. Then I remembered myself compassion and she said, you know, and I realized that if this was happening to someone else, this is not the stuff that would be going on in my head. What would be going on in my head would be, Oh my goodness, this is such a hard time. Like I can see her struggling. I can see that you’re doing your best. I can see that you love your son and this is really hard and this stinks. And you know, I’m sorry that this is happening. So I find that those two things together, when you add them in self worth, self esteem, self confidence, the image that we have of ourself as being worthy, inadequate, improves.
Speaker 2 21:15 So, so much. We judge ourselves so much harshly, harshly because we’re looking at what we’re doing more than anyone else is looking at us. I realized one of my shirts the other day was stained and I was like, Oh wow, I’ve been wearing this all day long. And I’m like, I bet no one even realized because they’re all looking at themselves all day, you know? And no one knew. No one said anything to me. Either they saw and felt bad or, or you know what? They were so worried about themselves and the image that they were projecting. And I think, I think we are always worried about the image that we’re projecting much more than, than the images that other people are projecting. Absolutely. I think it’s such an important point. I think that we’ve been taught, we’ve been programmed to externalize ourself worth. You know, it matters what we look like.
Speaker 2 22:05 It matters what we do. It matters. You know? And whether you’re male or female, I think this is particularly relevant for women as you said, but even for men, you know, this idea that our worth is external to us. You know, it’s based on how well behaved our kids are. Um, how nice we dress. Um, you know, how good our relationship is with our spouse, the promotions, the achievements, the material things. And it’s so, so common and just widely accepted that to challenge that and say, you know, no, most people are just kind of focused on themselves. We’re all afraid of judgment and criticism. My worth is not external to me. Like, you know, I am worthy of love. I’m made worthy of love. Absolutely. Um, I’m enough. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Well, I, I appreciate this wonderful time and do you have any, anything else you’d like to share with us? Um, before we go?
Speaker 2 23:00 I think that your questions are really covered. Everything. It was so, so nice to be here. Thank you for having me. I just love talking about this stuff. And I think that, um, you know, I guess just my kind of closing thoughts, it would be that, you know, it is never too late to ask for help. Things don’t have to reach a crisis level before you ask for help either. Absolutely. Do it before it reaches a crisis level. Please, please reach out to someone. Absolutely. Well, thank you again for being here and I appreciate it so much.