Category Archives: Uncategorized

A culture of learning, August – September 2019

September 16, 2019 – One of the Center’s operating principles is cultivating a culture of learning. Who are the students? We all are! Staff, clients, board, community. The following photos offer a small snapshot into recent opportunities for professional growth, which we believe translates to better service to our clients.

Teaching

Three of the Center’s team of ten psychologists, Dr. Scott Young, Dr. Shannon Welch-Groves, and Dr. Eva Christiansen, present at the Center’s board of directors, answering many questions including: What exactly does a psychologist do?

Training

One Iowa provides LGBTQ Safe Zone designation training to the Center’s clinicians and administrators. This training was made possible through a generosity of a Center donor.

Consulting

Dr. Geoffrey Hills, psychiatrist, provides a consultation to the Center’s staff on the neurology of dementia and care for clients. The Center’s psychiatry team presents to the staff on a monthly basis.

Thank you Carol!

Carol Leonard

12 years of excellence, hope and healing

September 17, 2019 – Chances are, if you called the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center at some point in the past 12 years, you talked with Carol Leonard. Serving for 12 years at the Center, Carol has been the primary “listening ear” to clients and potential clients as they make their first, brave step to literally call for help by scheduling an appointment. As the Center’s intake coordinator / credentialing coordinator, Carol has served the Center with professionalism, compassion and a lot of plain old hard work.

Carol has made a decision to retire and last week our staff bid Carol heartfelt thanks with words, gifts, and — of course — cake.

We know that Carol meant a lot to many of our guests. If you would like to offer your word of thanks to Carol and wish her well on her retirement, cards or letters may be sent to:

Carol Leonard

c/o The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center

8553 Urbandale Ave.

Urbandale, IA 50322

 

 

CAREER OPPORTUNITY—PSYCHIATRY

The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, a well-established nonprofit organization, is seeking a psychiatrist, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner to join our team of multi-disciplinary clinicians who are committed to a mind/body/spirit therapeutic approach. The mission of the Center is to bring understanding, hope and healing to people of all ages through counseling and education. We are seeking a psychiatrist, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner to provide general psychiatry care to patients of all ages including children, adolescents, adults and elders.  The Center offers work-life balance including flexible hours and schedule with no call and no weekends.  Seeking an organized, self – directed individual who understands and embraces our Center’s mission and values participation in our collaborative care approach.

Please send a letter of interest and vita to Kelli Hill, Ph.D., Director of Clinical Services, Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center 8553 Urbandale Avenue, Urbandale, IA  50322 or email khill@dmpcc.org.

The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center is a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization offering a broad range of mental health services, serving more than 5,700 individuals in 2017, including 645 children plus their families. Although best known for its 46 years of quality, professional mental health therapy, the Center provides multi-faceted services, programs and classes:

  • Counseling, including specialized services for children and adolescents
  • Psychiatry and Medication Management
  • Psychological testing and assessment
  • Training for graduate students, clinical professionals and the community
  • Holistic approaches such as biofeedback, EMDR, healing touch
  • Spiritual direction
  • Career coaching
  • Leadership and spiritual life programming
  • Conflict transformation and strategic planning services for congregations, nonprofits and businesses

For more information about the Center, visit our website www.dmpcc.org.

Learning and Mental Disorders – An Experience

Billie Wade, writer

We usually think of children, K-12 and college-age, and school when we consider learning. However, learning affects everyone even into the senior years and in every facet of life. Many adults return to school to enhance or change careers; learn a hobby, interest or skill; meet new people; challenge themselves; or, fulfill a dream. The challenge of learning is exciting and good for us but can become problematic when we are faced with mental disorders. I have lived with depression and anxiety since adolescence. Both mental disorders impact my ability to learn.

I was a good student and rarely missed days from school. School offered me respite from my turbulent home, and I enjoyed learning. I was a bright, engaged student, but learning did not come easily. Depression hindered my abilities to focus and concentrate. Fatigue and irregular sleep patterns meant I fought the fog of sleepiness and drowsiness in my morning classes. Anxiety kept me worried about performance and interacting with other students.

Teachers and others treated my questions as signs that I was not paying attention. I frequently felt as if I would jump out of my skin and go flying off in myriad directions with myself scattered in fragments. No one around me seemed to have the problems I experienced. I shared my pain with no one, afraid that telling someone would invite ridicule and disdain. My distress was almost palpable, but no one seemed to notice. I felt alone, unsettled, exposed, and vulnerable.

Social interactions and learning social skills made me nervous and jittery. Forming ideas in my head and articulating them effectively were difficult even when I knew what I wanted to say. I feared angering and alienating other people by making inappropriate or foolish comments.

My senior year in high school, I attended classes in the mornings and worked in the afternoons. While I was excited to be working, learning the tasks and responsibilities of holding a job and developing skills to be successful unnerved me. I feared making mistakes and getting fired or reprimanded in the presence of coworkers. I feared being ignored with no one willing to help me.

When I graduated, I became a full time employee. A series of promotions led to my eventual transfer to a different department and a prestigious position in the company. With each promotion, the angst of learning something new and trying not to make any mistakes confronted me. As I acquired more skills to do my jobs, additional responsibilities were placed on me. I often had to learn a new job functions while already feeling overwhelmed with the present duties. At the time, I had not been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, other than the ‘bad nerves’ diagnosis and ‘nerve pills’ my doctor prescribed for a short time when I was thirteen years old.

In 1995, I returned to school as a nontraditional student. My full time job and single parenting my adolescent son were at the forefront of my everyday life. Adding school to my other responsibilities and living with mental disorders meant going into a state of hyper-vigilance and ultra-attentiveness to everything. I carried a double major and completed my undergraduate degree in 1998.

In 2005, following what would be a defining, pivotal experience, I developed panic attacks. I was in graduate school at the time and learning was particularly difficult as I struggled to concentrate, focus, apply what I was learning, and turn in cohesive assignments amid the turmoil of my life, untreated. I was out of work, subsisting on unemployment benefits; out of insurance benefits; out of medication; lacking a support system; without a counselor, and, without a spiritual foundation. I finished graduate school in December 2006 amid what turned out to be one of the lowest points in my life.

A counselor diagnosed the depression in my mid-twenties. In 2015, I received the diagnoses of dysthymia (persistent depressive disorder) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Despite seeing several counselors over the years, no one previously diagnosed the anxiety—I was high-functioning so my struggles were chalked up to behavioral habits I ‘should’ be able to control such as go to bed earlier; get out of bed before the last minute; pay attention; buckle down and focus; eat less.

Teachers, bosses, and others hurried me and told me to work faster and be more productive. I developed migraine headaches in my twenties that persisted through my fifties. A sense of emptiness, low energy, indecisiveness, and that something was very wrong with me plagued me. The coping strategies that kept me going were journaling; busyness; perfectionism; self-reliance; denying my feelings; eating; and, ignoring my emotions. Forged out of desperation, some of my approaches were effective and others turned out to be self-defeating.

One of the most powerful lessons for me was learning I am not alone. I am not the only person with these mental disorders, and I have people and mechanisms in life to help me cope. I now have a counselor, a psychiatrist, a supportive circle of friends, loving family members, and effective medications. Today, I lead a full, productive life of positive challenges.

I am learning to treat myself with gentleness and compassion. It is a lifelong process of remembering my tools when I am in emotional pain. I have an unwavering belief that if I work hard enough, life will get better even when reality is devastating and seems hopeless. I vacillate between good days and periods of angst and despair. My life is not perfect, but more days than in the past are manageable.

Mental disorders are treatable with counseling, journaling, stress relievers like MBSR© (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), spiritual and religious practices, and medication. If you or someone you know is living with one or more mental disorders, know there is help available. For information on services and classes, contact Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center at 515-274-4006 or visit the website at www.dmpcc.org.

NE Association UCC Boundary Training

The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center is pleased to offer Ethical Boundary Training for Clergy. Clergy from all denominations are welcome to attend.

DATE  Tuesday, October 22, 2019

TIME  9:00AM – 3:30PM (Registration begins at 8:30AM)

TUITION  Free for Northeast Association members in good standing.  $30 for all others. Lunch is included.

LOCATION  Alden United Church of Christ (212 West St., Alden, Iowa)

REGISTRATION  Pre-registration required by October 15th. Click below.

register-now-button-white-on-turquoise

If  you have questions, contact Diane McClanahan at: dmcclanahan@dmpcc.org

Description of Training

What are healthy boundaries?  Why are they important?  What is the difference between boundary crossing and boundary violation?  Beginning with an understanding of the nature of ministry, this workshop will focus on the broad range of professional boundaries that include but consist of so much more than prevention of sexual misconduct.

Topics

  • Developing Self-Awareness
  • The Impact of Family Systems on Healthy Boundaries
  • The Nature of Power
  • Dual Relationships—My Pastor, My Friend
  • Financial Boundaries—Appropriate Gifts
  • Communications—Need to Know or Want to Know?
  • Internet and Social Networks
  • Issues of Resistance
  • Prevention Measures and Supports

Faciliator

Diane McClanahan, M.Div. is the Director of Leadership and Spiritual Life  at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center.  She  holds a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Duke University and a master of divinity degree from Yale Divinity School. An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, she has served congregations in Connecticut and Iowa. Diane is a spiritual director, clergy coach, church consultant and conflict transformation specialist.  She provides spiritual enrichment opportunities, professional development programs and consultation to assist faith community leaders and their congregations to meet the needs of their communities through the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center.

Contact

Diane McClanahan, Director, Leadership and Spiritual Life
Phone:  515-251-6667
Email: dmcclanahan@dmpcc.org

And The Two Shall Be One

I had the privilege to attend the recent funeral of Bernie Gottner. A privilege because the celebration of his life was so uplifting as a result of the rituals that gave clear evidence of a rich life well lived.

Why start this edition of my series on generosity and gratitude with a condensed obituary?

Bernie was the spouse of Eileen Burtle, one of our retired therapists whom I consider to be one of the founders of the Center. She began her work with us in 1981, not long after the arrival of Ellery Duke and Jeff Means—and just ahead of Jeanne Schossow. These “founders”, along with others who were the first counselors and staff in the early years of the Center, did so much to set a direction, establish common values, forge a mission and care for those we serve with genuine pastoral concern.

As I have deepened my understanding of the Center in my first years as executive director, I have regularly been inspired by the depth of commitment of our staff. I am fortunate to be surrounded by such good and committed people who work so hard to carry out our heritage, passed down from our founders since 1972. Sacrifices abound.

I have heard many stories of the struggles the Center encountered in the early years. That too is a heritage shared by many nonprofits. I’m sure there were many sleepless nights when those folks—and the board finance committee—wondered if there would be enough money to pay the utility bill and make payroll. Word on the street is that even contemporary administrators at the Center have similar concerns. 🙂  And yet those forebears forged ahead. One step and day at a time, always doing their best to help those in need of hope and healing.

Which gets me to Bernie. Would all the staff who have gone before us been able to make the sacrifices and carry on the work if they didn’t have the support of loving spouses, family and community. You can imagine the heavy burden one brings home after a day of helping others to carry their load by listening to stories and offering counsel. Going “home” to friends and family (in the broadest sense of that word) provides a shelter and context for self-care after a day of caring for others, many of whom carry horrific burdens.

As I reflect on generosity and gratitude, I think of all those who are in this work with us. Some directly as volunteers, as donors, but others indirectly by providing love and community for those who serve our mission. None of us make this world better on our own. We do it in the context of community and shared values and commitments—and by loving and supporting one another.

Bernie did plenty of good, inspiring work in his own ministry and career, but he and Eileen together did something magical in their shared mission. And the two shall be one. We are the better for it.

And we are better because of you. Not just two become one, but many who share one goal of serving those in need of hope and healing. Thank you for the many ways you support our efforts at the Center. A special thanks to our families and communities of support. Your love means the world to us and those we serve.

Jim

www.dmpcc.org/Jim

click image to read more from Jim’s blog

When Forgiveness is Hard

Forgiveness has been on my mind for a while, now, so I started asking questions. I conducted research and found that many of my questions were not answered. What is forgiveness? What does forgiveness look like? What happens in the process of forgiving? I offer, in a nutshell, my experience, interpretation, and understanding of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the process of letting go of the need and desire for revenge, whatever form that may take. Forgiveness is neither neat and tidy nor precise. The stages of forgiveness and the steps of forgiving are good reference points. However, your process through forgiveness is unique to you and the situation you are facing. You may feel several emotions simultaneously and experience moving back and forth between stages. If the impact to your life is relatively minor, you may find forgiveness effortless and not think about it again as the adage “forgive and forget” urges you to do. When the blow is life-altering, forgiveness can be an arduous process spanning years or a lifetime, no matter how insignificant it appears to others.

Well-meaning people have cajoled or coerced grieving people into forgiving on their terms, rather than the griever’s. Watching someone wrangle with grief can be uncomfortable. They want you to become the person they knew before the experience. Or, they want to “keep the peace” in the family or relationship. Doing so before you are ready has the potential to increase anxiety, depression, resentment, anger, guilt, and shame. You may then engage in ineffective coping strategies and self-defeating behavior. You may push back with defiant anger as you set boundaries.

Grief is a necessary prerequisite for forgiveness. You must grieve your loss and be comforted by the peace of acceptance, a whole other issue. The event brought an abrupt change in your world. Life as you knew it or planned for it ceased. At the onset of grief, you experience excruciating numbness. When you are discouraged from or prevented from grieving, you are disempowered to act in your own behalf. Without the process of grief, recognition that your loss is real, and your emotions are real may be delayed or hindered.

Forgiveness is an enigma with several paradoxes. You let go of the blinding anger, but you still remember the experience. You let go of your need for revenge, but you can still hold the perpetrator accountable. You find peace from the searing emotional pain, but you still protect yourself, as much as possible, from further harm. You say, “I forgive,” and “never again,” in the same sentence. You allow yourself to feel and express your emotions without attachment to them. These paradoxes may make the way out of an emotional cloud into forgiveness bewildering. My recommendations for detangling the experience are:

Remember forgiveness is a process that takes time. Be patient and gentle with yourself and your process as it unfolds. Take good care of yourself.

Several years ago, a series of adverse events happened in my life. For legal reasons, I could not discuss the main incident that triggered the chain reaction. The dominoes continued to fall for several years. My desire for revenge took the form of wanting a better life for myself than I had with the people involved. However, my life got worse as triggered events continued to happen. To this day, the devastating effects of that occurrence on my life reverberate through my existence. Clearly, I am still grieving.

You forgive for yourself as you traverse the path to healing and recovery. Forgiveness is a process of self-care. You cannot change the event, the person(s) involved, or how they will act in the future. You cannot know how they feel about the situation. You can change your attitude toward the person by deciding to not carry them with you any longer, even if the person does not apologize or take responsibility for the hurt caused by her or his behavior. You can write a new narrative of how you want to proceed with your life. You gain insight into who you have become because of the event, and what is unshakable in you despite the event.

Forgiveness is linked to an array of health benefits, mental as well as physical, including:

  • Increasing happiness
  • Improving heart rate and blood pressure
  • Reducing stress
  • Boosting energy
  • Relieving depression and anxiety
  • Strengthening relationships
  • Resolving conflict
  • Enhancing gratitude and kindness

The importance of forgiving yourself cannot be overlooked. Honest introspection when you have caused pain and suffering to others is vital to your well-being. Here are some tips for forgiving yourself:

  • Practice self-compassion.
  • Look for the root of your behavior without seeking an excuse.
  • If you were influenced by someone else, take steps to distance yourself from the person or to draw firm boundaries for future interactions.
  • Identify your value that you violated and why that value is important to you.
  • If feasible and safe, go to the person and offer your sincere apology, and restitution if appropriate and possible.
  • Develop a plan for similar situations in the future.
  • Discuss your situation with a counselor or someone else you trust.

You may still be held accountable for your behavior and face consequences as a result of the fallout. However, you will have peace in knowing you have done your best to make amends.

I once betrayed the trust of a close friend. Over the years, we saw each other in grocery stores and chatted pleasantly. Guilt and shame gnawed at me, but I did not say anything. I grieved the loss of our friendship and her trust in me. A few months ago, I called her and offered my apology. She was gracious and we had a cordial conversation. As we talked, I made peace with my behavior and began the journey from grief into self-forgiveness. The consequences of my behavior were emotional pain, guilt, shame, and remorse.

The power of forgiveness can transform your life. Forgiveness does not require you to be a hero; follow your heart and honor your process. Wherever you are on the forgiveness continuum, know that compassion for yourself and others paves the way to acceptance, peace of mind, gratitude, and emotional freedom.

Peace and Joy to you.

Billie Wade, writer

Discover Your Why!

Throughout much of our lives we struggle with “what” we should do and “how” we should do it.  “What will I be when I grow up?” “How will I earn a living?” “What do I do now?”  

“How will I go on now that this change has happened in my life?” In this workshop, participants will work together to ask and answer a different question.  “Why?” Discovering your personal “why” will bring clarity and impact to everything you do because it will enable you to walk in and toward your purpose.  

Adapting the Simon Sinek process called Find Your Why, participants will take the journey to discover what makes them feel fulfilled and what drives their behavior when at our natural best.  

Date:  Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Time:   9:00AM – 5:00PM (8:30AM Registration)

Location:  Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center Conference Room

Fee: $149 (Lunch included)

Click image to view a printer friendly flyer

Facilitators:

Carla Cain

Carla is a pastor and trained End-of-Life Doula. Her current work is consulting with congregations on strategic planning, conflict transformation, church leadership and a focus on working with the dying. Carla discerned her call to ministry after spending 30 years in the corporate world where she was involved in business development, human resources and cultural transformation work. Carla has an expertise and passion for personal mastery that leads to living well and dying well.

 

Diane McClanahan, M.Div., B.S.N.

Diane McClanahan, Director of Leadership and Spiritual Life at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, holds a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Duke University and a master of divinity degree from Yale Divinity School. An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, she has served congregations in Connecticut and Iowa. Diane is a spiritual director, clergy coach, church consultant and conflict mediator. Her interest is in providing spiritual and educational programs and consultation to assist spiritual leaders and their congregations to meet the needs of their communities.

Mastery or Misery: Dealing Effectively with Conflict in Congregations

About the Course

Conflict is a natural phenomenon when people come together.  Conflict can divide a congregation; it can be hurtful to individuals and stifle congregational operations if left unresolved.  Yet, there are ways to utilize conflict as an opportunity to learn and grow as in community. Resolved conflict provides a path toward a shared mission and purpose. 

Why not address the specific nature of the conflict?  Why not learn and utilize specific skills to move beyond the conflict and towards conciliation?  All of this to achieve a more thriving and productive congregation and enriched, healthier relationships. Our individual relationship with conflict can determine how we react to conflict and how we lead others through conflict. 

This class involves three different phases over a six month period.  The first phase is in a classroom setting. The second phase is a monthly peer group facilitated call and the third phase is another classroom setting.  All of this to learn, practice and incorporate new skills into our daily lives. 

Audience:  Clergy of all traditions

Why Take the Class

Conflict can deter productivity and derail the mission of the congregation.  Finding ways, developing skills and being engaged with a peer group can provide the means to a healthier congregation.  This class is education, skill building and experiential. You will be supported over the six month class by trained and experienced conflict transformational professionals. 

Course Objectives

  • The course is designed to understand how leading self is an important element to leading others that improves the opportunity for healthier congregations and more productive relationships.
  • We will learn about our own relationship with conflict and how this contributes to conflict in the congregation.
  • We will learn how to recognize the power involved in conflict and how it is counter-productive.
  • We will learn how to work with others in the congregation using more courage and compassion.
  • Peer groups will be established following the first class session to create continuity and be a resource for situations as we incorporate new skills into our daily practice.

Class Schedule

Phase 1: Thursday, October 24, 9:00AM-5:00PM and Friday, October 25, 9:00AM-4:00PM

Phase 2:  Monthly peer group video calls of 4-5 peers and a facilitator.

Phase 3:  Thursday, April 23, 2020, 9:00AM-5:00PM

Location:  TBA

Tuition:  $450

CEUs: Available upon request. Please email Diane McClanahan: dmcclanahan@dmpcc.org

Click image for a printer friendly flyer

 

Facilitators:

Carla Cain

Carla is a pastor and trained End-of-Life Doula. Her current work is consulting with congregations on strategic planning, conflict transformation, church leadership and a focus on working with the dying. Carla discerned her call to ministry after spending 30 years in the corporate world where she was involved in business development, human resources and cultural transformation work. Carla has an expertise and passion for personal mastery that leads to living well and dying well.

 

Diane McClanahan, M.Div., B.S.N.

Diane McClanahan, Director of Leadership and Spiritual Life at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, holds a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Duke University and a master of divinity degree from Yale Divinity School. An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, she has served congregations in Connecticut and Iowa. Diane is a spiritual director, clergy coach, church consultant and conflict mediator. Her interest is in providing spiritual and educational programs and consultation to assist spiritual leaders and their congregations to meet the needs of their communities.

On the Brink: A Group for Religious Professionals Transitioning into Retirement

 

PROGRAM

 

 

Retiring from active religious and spiritual leadership evokes many emotions–dread, joy, fear, anxiety, excitement…Questions arise: “How will I find meaning and purpose?” “What is my call now?” “How do I adapt to all of the changes that aging brings?” “How do I share my spiritual gifts while maintaining healthy boundaries?”

Utilizing Parker Palmer’s book, “On the Brink of Everything:  Grace, Gravity and Getting Old”, clergy approaching retirement, or recently retired, will gather four times to support one another by exploring the existential challenges retirement brings.

AUDIENCE

 

Ordained religious professionals including rabbis, pastors, priests, imams and others who are considering their next stage of life
DATE / TIME

 

Wednesdays from 1:00-3:30PM  / Sept 25, 2019, Nov 13, 2019, March 11, 2020, April 29, 2020
COST

 

$200 for the full series of four sessions
LOCATION

 

Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center Conference Room

 

Click image for a printer friendly flyer

FACILITATORS

Diane McClanahan, M.Div., B.S.N.

Diane McClanahan, Director of Leadership and Spiritual Life at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, holds a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Duke University and a master of divinity degree from Yale Divinity School. An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, she has served congregations in Connecticut and Iowa. Diane is a spiritual director, clergy coach, church consultant and conflict mediator. Her interest is in providing spiritual and educational programs and consultation to assist spiritual leaders and their congregations to meet the needs of their communities.

Mark Minear, Ph.D.

Mark MinearMark Minear is a licensed psychologist. He is also a recorded minister with the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker). He received his B.A. in Religion and English from William Penn College, an M.A. in Church History from the Earlham School of Religion, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Ball State University.  Mark works with adults on a wide variety of issues: depression, anxiety including trauma, loss and grief, transitions and adjustments, and spiritual concerns. Theoretical approaches include logotherapy (meaning-making), cognitive-behavioral, family systems, and mindfulness therapies.  He also has background in working with a variety of churches, denominations, and faith traditions, as well as with individual clergy in need of support.