I enter the doors of Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, feeling a sense of peace, a sense of tranquility. The reception room fills me with a sense of reverence. For me, I am in a sacred space. My time here is sacred. Some people quietly use their cell phones. When someone receives a call, she or he steps out of the room. When people visit with each other, their conversation is barely audible above the soothing music coming through the sound system. I am comforted by the arrival of others to the waiting room. I feel connected. We are all here on our journey of hope and healing. Though we may never exchange pleasantries, we are not alone. As other people face their pain, they share in mine and vice versa.
January 15, 2019, marks the beginning of the seventh year with my counselor. He has walked with me through a series of life challenges, patiently allowing me to process my pain at my own pace. My counselor’s office expands my feeling that I am in a sacred space and that my time here is sacred. I guard my time here and schedule other appointments around it. I treat it with respect. Here, I discuss the challenges and triumphs of my life with abandon. I examine my feelings and emotions and explore my relationships and my experience as a black woman in counseling. I’ve sought counseling intermittently since my mid-twenties. To talk freely and openly about racial issues in counseling is to receive a gift never before offered. A lot of life happens between sessions, and I often arrive at my counselor’s office with a list or have an urgent topic to discuss. My counselor makes me feel heard and trusted. He helps me see options and possibilities. He asks great questions and meets me where I am emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. He nudges me toward healing and my best self.
The Center’s holistic approach to mental health care feeds me as a whole person. Classes and programs enrich my life immeasurably. I am a mental health sponge, a devoted seeker of personal growth, healing, transformation, and empowerment. The Center offers an array of classes and programs, speaking to a person’s lifespan of experiences. Some of the services provided are:
- Women Helping Women for women and girls
- Program for men and boys
- COOL for children and adolescents
- The Redefining Aging Initiative
- Spiritual direction
- Pastoral training and development
- Ethical Boundary Training for Clergy
- Psychiatric assessment and medication management
- Neuropsychological assessment
- Individual counseling
- Couple counseling
- Family counseling
- Grief counseling
- Career counseling
- Client assistance fund and sliding fee scale
Classes and programs include:
- Prairie Fire
- MBSRTM (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction)
- Being Mortal: How then shall we live?
- Wisdom Stories
- Trauma Sensitive Practice
- Dying Well
- Meditation; Course and Individual Sessions
Every organization has stumbling blocks. Humans comprise organizations, and humans make mistakes. My experience as a client is seamless. The difficulties of running a business are invisible to me. I have great appreciation and admiration for the behind-the-scenes work that goes on at the Center. I am impressed by 100% employee participation on Giving Tuesday which communicates how much employees believe in the Center and its mission. The Center’s forty-nine-year resilient evolution is a testament to willingness to persevere, expand, grow, and transform. I consider it an honor and a privilege to serve an organization of the Center’s caliber.
I encourage you to take a few moments to consider your relationship with the Center, in whatever capacity you fill. Why did you come here? Why have you stayed? How has the relationship evolved? What do you feel when you enter the doors? What do you feel when you leave? When I leave the Center, I feel encouraged, uplifted, inspired, and empowered. I often go home and journal about my counseling session. Please know that you are an integral part of the peaceful atmosphere of the Center.
Counseling and the therapeutic process are hard work. Emotional pain takes a toll on our physical health, draining us of much-needed energy. To have someone hear us and attend to our pain are crucial components of healing. Someone we trust affirms our worth as a human being. Someone trusts us to walk hand in hand with her or him as a confidant and guide.
I am grateful for the Center’s presence in central Iowa. I am grateful for my counselor. I am grateful for all of you sharing this journey with me.
As we enter 2019, I wish everyone a year of hope, healing, peace, joy, and prosperity.
Billie Wade is a gregarious introvert whose primary interests are writing, lifelong learning, personal development, and how we all are affected by life’s vagaries. Issues facing black people, women, the LGBTQ community, and aging adults are of particular concern to her. She enjoys open-hearted dialogue with diverse people. The opinions expressed here are her own.
To read more of Billie’s blogs: www.dmpcc.org/Billie