To begin, we want to introduce our new monthly blog of “Let’s Talk About it”. In this feature, we will be choosing a monthly topic related to therapy or community to explore with our licensed professional counselors. Our hope is to give our clients and neighbors better insight into who we are and what we believe here at Willow Mark Therapy PLLC.
Jen, what inspired your idea to include a community center in your plans for Willow Mark Therapy?
“One of the core values that underpin Willow Mark Therapy PLLC is the understanding that healing is multifaceted. It doesn’t only come from talking in a therapy room; it’s also in the connections we build, the hobbies we embrace, and the communities we become a part of.
The decision to integrate creative classes within the community center was driven by the belief in the therapeutic power of creativity. Art, outdoor adventure, pottery, sewing, music, woodworking, welding, dance, and writing – these aren’t just hobbies. They’re powerful tools for expression, introspection, and communication. Many times, when words fail, a brush stroke, a musical note, or a dance move can communicate deep-seated emotions.
By providing creative classes, we offer an outlet for individuals to explore their feelings in a non-verbal, transformative way. Furthermore, engaging in these classes together fosters a sense of community. Participants can connect over shared activities, appreciate each other’s perspectives, and offer mutual encouragement. It’s amazing to see the bond that forms between individuals when they collaborate on a creative project or share their work with one another.
In today’s fast-paced digital age, feelings of isolation and loneliness have become alarmingly common. Yet, as humans, our need for connection, understanding, and mutual support has never been greater. The community center serves as a haven, a place where individuals can find refuge, not only from their personal struggles but from societal pressures.
Community-building is a remedy to loneliness. It allows individuals to recognize that they aren’t alone in their journey and that there are others who understand, empathize, and stand by them. Friendships formed in such settings often become lifelines, helping individuals navigate the highs and lows of life.
To me, Willow Mark Therapy PLLC isn’t just a therapy center. It’s a hub of connection, creativity, and community. A space where every individual, regardless of where they come from or what they’re going through, can find support, learn, heal, and move toward a state of wholeness. Our society desperately needs these connections, and we’re proud to offer a sanctuary where creativity comes to life and genuine connections are forged.”
How do you feel a community center fits into the idea and concepts of therapy?
Jen: “That’s a thought-provoking question. I deeply believe that the inclusion of a community center seamlessly aligns with the broader concepts of therapy, and here’s why:
1. Holistic Healing: Traditional one-on-one therapy focuses predominantly on the individual’s internal world. While this is paramount, healing often requires attention to both our internal experiences and our external interactions. A community center provides that external space, allowing individuals to navigate, practice, and reinforce the insights and strategies they learn in therapy in real-world, communal settings.
2. Safe Practice Ground: Therapy often involves learning new skills, whether it’s communication, assertiveness, or coping techniques. The community center acts as a controlled environment where individuals can practice these newfound skills, gaining confidence before applying them in the broader world.
3. Social Support: It’s well documented in therapeutic literature that social support is a significant factor in mental well-being. The community center fosters a sense of belonging and support, reducing feelings of isolation. When you know you’re not alone in your journey, the path to healing feels more attainable.
4. Expanding Perspectives: Engaging with a community exposes individuals to diverse viewpoints and stories. It can be a grounding experience to realize that everyone is battling their own challenges. This can foster empathy, understanding, and broader perspectives—crucial elements in personal growth and healing.
5. Complementing Traditional Therapies: Certain therapeutic modalities, like group therapy or art therapy, find a natural home in a community center. These approaches can often be enhanced by the broader resources and collaborative spirit a community space offers.
6. Addressing Societal Factors: Many mental and emotional challenges are exacerbated by societal pressures and feelings of alienation. By creating a welcoming community space, we are not just treating the individual but addressing some of the societal factors contributing to their distress.
7. Empowerment: There’s something inherently empowering about being part of a community. It gives individuals a sense of purpose, a place where they can contribute, be valued, and make a difference. This can be therapeutic in itself, especially for those who may feel disempowered in other areas of their lives.
Incorporating a community center into the therapeutic process recognizes and honors our holistic journey, providing a more comprehensive approach to well-being and healing.”
Maggie: “Oooh I love questions like this. One thing that I always go back to from graduate school, is the lesson that my professors really tried to impart to us about “using what it is in the therapy room”. To me, a community center is a literal expansion of the therapy room and with it, the ideas of what therapy is and what it can provide.
We know from research over the years that the biggest factor in a client’s healing process is not what theory of counseling is used, but the therapeutic alliance itself. When we provide a group setting or a community setting for our clients, we are creating more opportunity for relationships to develop; and with them, the skills of accountability, empathy, perspective taking, etc. Our job as counselors is not to create a reliance on us, but to help the client to learn their own healing patterns, coping skills, and to build a social support system beyond us.
Another element that creative groups provide is that of metaphor. A hiking group provides a lesson about one’s resiliency and inner strength. A pottery class allows one to make a mistake and rework the original plan. A book club allows one to relate and create empathy with characters that may or may not be similar to their own stories. Woodworking creates a natural patience, a steadiness, a mindfulness to the task at hand. A date night cooking class gives us insight to clients’ playfulness, how they interact when mistakes are made, how they communicate with one another during a task. These groups provide a medium in which to practice the skills discussed within the walls of a talk therapy session.
When looking at the community center as an expansion of the therapy room, it allows us a greater use of tools to come alongside clients in their healing journey and we are able to provide a broader range of care to each individual.”
What is your vision for what classes and things the community center will provide for our area?
Jen: “Certainly! Here’s the list of possible classes and groups.
1. Creative Craft Workshops:
– Repurposing for Home Decor: Participants can transform old items into imaginative home decor pieces.
– Woodworking Classes: From beginner to advanced levels, for those passionate about the art of woodworking.
– Cooking/Baking Classes: Hands-on experience for those wanting to kick up their skill in the kitchen.
– Pottery Workshops: A tactile journey into clay, shaping it into works of art.
– Painting Sessions: Delve into various styles and mediums to express creativity.
– Cookie Decorating Classes: Combining baking with artistic decoration for delightful results.
2. Gardening and Nature Activities:
– Community Gardening: A hands-on experience from seed to harvest.
– Garden-to-Table Workshops: Whip up dishes using freshly picked ingredients.
3. Wellness and Mindfulness Programs:
– Yoga and Meditation Classes: Focusing on relaxation, grounding, and cultivating self-awareness.
– Nutrition and Healthy Eating Workshops: Encouraging a balanced diet and teaching the craft of wholesome cooking.
4. Skill-building Seminars:
– Communication Workshops: Enhancing interpersonal relationships and communication skills.
– Financial Wellness Sessions: Building confidence in personal finance management.
– Marriage Enrichment Classes: Nurturing strong marital bonds and effective communication.
– Parenting Classes: Offering insights and strategies for various stages of parenting.
5. Support Groups:
– Catering to diverse needs, from grief support, divorce care, health challenges to addiction recovery.
6. Educational Talks and Community Forums:
– Engaging in insightful discussions and fostering collective community brainstorming.
7. Recreational Activities:
– Adventure Groups: Organized outings that cater to the adventurous spirit—be it hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, or camping trips. These groups aim to not only provide thrill and exercise but also to build camaraderie, resilience, and an appreciation for nature.
– Book Clubs: Dive into literary discussions and share perspectives.”
Maggie: “I mean Jen kind of covered it all as far as the groups we are looking to offer. I will piggyback on to add that we have also discussed date night ideas as well to provide fun environments for clients. One thing I mention to marriage clients is that there has to be a balance of working on your marriage, as in the skills discussed and assigned in therapy sessions, but also a rebuilding and revisiting of the foundation and fun of the friendship that it all began with. Providing date nights and activities at the community center would allow for more of these opportunities for couples in our area.
In my conversations with Jen, too, we have really been passionate about getting feedback from our community about what they believe and see as needs for our area. We truly want to be a center that is based in and teams up alongside the community we live in.”
Is there any class or group that you are the most excited to offer or be a part of?
Jen: I’m genuinely excited about many of our offerings, especially the Repurposing for Home Decor class. I’ve always felt that the way we decorate our homes says a lot about us. It’s like our inner feelings come to life around us. Taking old things and giving them a fresh look is something I really enjoy. It’s both fun and deeply rewarding.
I also want to increase my Woodworking skills and maybe even try welding. There’s something special about working with your hands and seeing a piece come together from scratch. Creating is breath to my soul and I just can’t wait to share this with others.
Lastly, I can really geek out when it comes to communication. Our classes on how to talk, listen, and connect, especially for couples and families, are close to my heart. I believe many problems come from not understanding each other. It’s amazing how learning to tweak a word here and there can make a huge difference in how close we are. I think these classes will greatly impact the quality of our relationships.
Overall, I wish the center was already built. I can’t wait to learn, grow, and develop community together.
Maggie: “For starters, I will always love a good book club. And on that note, one of the book clubs I am currently in read a recent monthly pick that mentioned pottery classes and it made the whole thing seem so fun that I will have to throw that in there as the one I am the most excited to take for myself.
I also have worked on a couple woodworking projects with my husband and have always enjoyed that time and opportunity to be creative together.
Two groups I think I am the most passionate about offering though, are my hiking and mindfulness groups because adventure therapy and group processing are so much a part of my training and I have seen the healing it can bring. I also have a passion for the outdoors and it is where I feel the most grounded myself.
The other group is “Bringing Baby Home” which is a training I am taking through the Gottman Institute. The goal is to help equip families with a skill set and tools not just for how to care and nurture a newborn but also to help care and nurture themselves as they make that transition into parenthood and take on new roles, and in many ways, new identities for themselves. I am passionate about offering this as a group rather than individual sessions so that we can create support amongst new parents all going through similar transitions together.”