Counseling – Christian Children’s Home of Ohio

Counseling

There’s more to life than surviving (Story 33 of 50)

CCHO is celebrating 50 years of ministry! Throughout 2019, we will be sharing stories of the lives that have been forever changed by the work God has done through our family of ministries (CCHO, Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling). As an agency committed to being trauma effective across all of our programming, we are happy to share a story today from Lindsay DeHaas (MSW, LSW), one of the therapists from our Thrive Trauma Recovery program. This intensive trauma treatment, part of Encompass Christian Counseling, allows clients to effectively process traumatic events from their past so they no longer feel the impact from those experiences in their day-to-day lives. Story #33 in our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series offers hope to those who may otherwise have a hard time finding it.

As an intensive trauma therapist in the Thrive Trauma Recovery program at Encompass Christian Counseling, it’s standard to work with clients for a week or two and then wish them well on their recovery journey as they return to ongoing mental health services. Although all clients have a special story and are memorable, some clients’ stories stick with you long after their treatment in the program has ended.

Amanda (name changed to protect her identity) was one of those clients whose traumatic experiences and resulting challenges in life were especially pressing on my heart. Amanda was an adult woman who appeared to “have it all” from the outside looking in on her life – she was married with several children, and successful in her career outside of the home. However, what Amanda truly experienced on a day-to-day basis were challenges like depression, difficulty getting out of bed, isolation, withdrawing from her family, disinterest in engaging in any social activities, guilt, anxiety, flashbacks, and nightmares that caused her to relive some of the worst moments and experiences in her life.

When I met Amanda on the first day of treatment, she presented as guarded, reserved and quiet. Throughout the course of our initial assessment and gathering information related to past trauma experiences, Amanda told me her past trauma experiences were secrets she felt trapped into keeping to herself, and her isolation was to the point where she had nobody to talk to on a tough day. Amanda desired to be able to connect with those around her, and to function differently than she had been for much of her life. So, with great hesitancy and skepticism toward the methods of the program, Amanda started to tell the story of her younger self, giving a voice to experiences, thoughts and emotions that had long been locked down tight.

Shortly after Amanda started processing her stories, she looked at me and said, “Okay…I’m trusting you here…that this actually works.” I remember smiling encouragingly and assuring her that she was strong and courageous, and that I wouldn’t walk with her through something I didn’t believe would be the best for her. Meanwhile, part of me was praying, “Lord, please work through these methods in a powerful way in her life. Show her Your hope.” And man, did He show up.

By the end of Amanda’s first week of treatment, I had to do a double take when she walked into the office. Everything about her was different. Amanda didn’t walk – she bounced – into the office that day. For the first time all week, she was taking care of herself in notable, obvious ways. Amanda’s guarded and intense demeanor had slipped away, and in its place was a very bubbly and relaxed woman whose eyes sparkled with joy as she joked and smiled, despite the tough content discussed throughout the session. When I commented on this extreme difference in her demeanor, tone and appearance, Amanda smiled and said she felt “empowered” by what she had done so far in treatment.

By the end of treatment, Amanda – who was experiencing constant flashbacks and unwanted thoughts about her past – stated she had only had a few flashbacks for days, that some days she hadn’t had any, and it felt “good.” Amanda said she didn’t feel like a victim anymore, she felt she could stand on her own two feet, and that through processing her traumatic experiences, she felt she knew who she was at her core and was more aware of her own needs that had to be met in order to be the wife, mother and woman God had designed her to be.

Amanda came to the Thrive program feeling hopeless, isolated and so afraid of what telling her story would do or not do in her life. Through the process, she surrendered her fear and allowed God to work in her life in such a powerful way that everyone around her could literally see the difference.

Thrive Trauma Recovery

Would you like to learn more about Thrive Trauma Recovery, the intensive trauma treatment offered by Encompass Christian Counseling? Click the button below to read all about this unique program.

Celebrating Five Decades of Ministry

This story is part of our "50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry" retrospective. Throughout 2019, we will be sharing 50 stories about the broken hearts, broken people, and broken families that have been made new by a loving and redemptive God. Have your own story about CCHO and our family of ministries? Click the button below to share it with us.

Read more

Trust, treatment, transformation (Story 28 of 50)

CCHO is celebrating 50 years of ministry! Throughout 2019, we will be sharing stories of the lives that have been forever changed by the work God has done through our family of ministries (CCHO, Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling). Today, we hear from an adoptive mom whose son eventually found healing from his past trauma in CCHO’s residential treatment program. Story #28 in our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series reminds us how important time and trust are on the road to wholeness.

My son was adopted when he was eight years of age. He had been in residential treatment for three years prior to his adoption, from age five to age eight. When he came to my home, he exhibited significant self-harming behaviors like defiance, aggression and running away. His social and emotional skills were almost nonexistent due to his extensive trauma, which included 19 moves within the foster care system and the loss of his birth family. Developmentally, he had significant delays as well. Cognitively, he had delays and a lower IQ, which made progress even more challenging.

Initially, his behaviors were not too severe at home. However, he suffered from attachment disorder, which made it difficult to help him feel safe or to trust anyone so he could heal from his past, causing his behaviors at home to intensify. After two years, they had become nearly unmanageable. His threats made it unsafe for him to remain in the home, and he was placed at CCHO by the county after making multiple threats to kill me and kill himself.

He initially was unable to deal with any of his past trauma or behavior issues, making his first four months at CCHO largely unfruitful. But once he began to disclose the extensive trauma he endured as a very young child to a counselor that he trusted, his progress was incredible. His counselor and I communicated frequently and worked closely during weekly sessions to further address the attachment issues my son exhibited. He went through an intensive trauma therapy program (Thrive), which shed more light on what he experienced in his birth family. Finally, after his trauma was treated and he knew he could trust me, his behaviors changed for the better. After only four more months, his transformation was amazing. He came home and was the funny, happy kid God created him to be. He no longer had any aggressive behaviors. He did not make any threats to harm himself or me.

I believe that God directed the county to choose CCHO because it was what my son needed to help him become the man God created him to be. He learned that love is unconditional and that moms can be trusted. He is completely attached to me now and trusts me 100% in many areas. He dealt with much of his past trauma and has continued to use the coping skills he learned at CCHO.

He is now 14 and still has areas that need work. He has many delays that will require more attention. But, without CCHO he would likely not be here at all. I was unable to maintain him safely in our home so I had expected to return custody to the agency. I am thankful that never happened.

I have hope that he will be a wonderful adult and contribute in a great way to the lives of others. He challenges me each day to never give up and to recognize that no child is ever a lost cause. Some kids just got started off with more obstacles than others. But with the proper help and lots of prayer, good things can happen. If my son never gives up, I won’t either.

Celebrating Five Decades of Ministry

This story is part of our "50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry" retrospective. Throughout 2019, we will be sharing 50 stories about the broken hearts, broken people, and broken families that have been made new by a loving and redemptive God. Have your own story about CCHO and our family of ministries? Click the button below to share it with us.

Read more

Getting close enough to listen (Story 22 of 50)

CCHO is celebrating 50 years of ministry! Throughout 2019, we will be sharing stories of the lives that have been forever changed by the work God has done through our family of ministries (CCHO, Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling). Today, Rebecca Ryder (MA, NCC, LPCC-S), Managing Clinical Supervisor with Encompass Counseling, looks at the transformational role stories have played in her personal and professional life. Entry #22 in our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series encourages us all to embrace the privilege of hearing someone else’s story of growth, healing and change.

Once upon a time…. Probably the most famous opening line of a story.

I have always loved stories. There were many nights as a kid that I was the last one asleep in the house because I couldn’t put my book down. I was the kid who could block out the rest of the world by getting caught up in a story – much to the frustration of my parents or siblings when they wanted or needed my attention. I always carried a book with me everywhere I went so I could read any time I had a free moment.

You may remember that a couple of decades ago, one of the major morning news networks aired a Friday feature called “Everybody has a Story.” I loved this segment so much because it focused on some obscure person who may have never been given a spotlight otherwise to share their personal journey. There was never a time when the person chosen didn’t tell an amazing and inspiring story! At the end of the segment, the reporter would blindly throw a dart at a map of the US to select the next town or city where he could find his next story. I couldn’t wait to see what would be shared the following week.

Since then, I have been moved by the fact that Everybody has a Story – we just have to get close enough to hear it.

Recently, I have realized that all of the major jobs or ministries I have ever done have placed me in the role of witnessing stories. I was made for that. To be a container, an encourager, a keeper and validator of the story. To journey alongside someone as the story unfolded. Changed. Healed.

My first career was in education. My first teaching job was in an inner-city middle school in Kansas City, MO. There was a steep learning curve in finding ways to reach and teach students who came to school daily despite the circumstances and obstacles in their individual worlds. Most days I became a nurse, mom, mediator, social worker, counselor or referee before I ever had a chance to teach them something. I learned quickly that I had to make an intentional effort to know each student if I wanted to gain any trust and have any hope of helping them overcome barriers to learning and growth. Spending extra time with many of them by taking advantage of an after-school program earned me the right to know their stories and unlocked a passion for one-on-one work.

Later, a desire was born for counseling. A lot of that came from the 1:1 experiences I was having with people and their stories. Counseling involves the ability to listen and be a witness to someone else’s story and pain. For me, it is teaching…but in a different way. I teach coping and communication skills, probe for insight, and help people find their identities in Christ. But mostly, I get to become a container for stories.

At Encompass, our work surrounds the whole person. It is built on what the client already knows. We celebrate the courage it took to walk through the door and bravely share their stories. On my office wall, I have a quote from one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp. It states, “Shame dies when stories are told in safe places.” I want to be a safe place for clients to share their stories and unlock steps to growth. I can’t do that without God’s strength and Spirit working in and through me. I rely on Him to help people reframe and reshape the stories of their lives so they can bring glory to God….

  • Like the kiddo who went to church on Easter with a friend and announced to me the following day that she gave her heart to Jesus. And just this week I got to explain to her that Jesus is with her wherever she goes and that she can pray to Him at any time. You see, this summer she has to go live with her non-custodial parent who has been abusive and scary in the past.
  • Like the client who has worked so hard to overcome the effects of multiple traumas only to recently be given a serious cancer diagnosis. I have witnessed her faith and identity grow strong and confident to the point where she now regularly prays herself during sessions.
  • Like the grown woman who is learning to find her voice that was taken away repeatedly as a child. Watch her make decisions without worry of what others will think, change jobs to pursue the kind of work she only dreamt of before, and begin to learn how to play for the first time in her life.

Witnessing growth is a privilege. As a supervisor, I get to work with interns and counselors as they hone their skills and develop discernment and wisdom with their own clients. I get to teach them and pass on wisdom I have gained through my own training and experiences. I appreciated my own supervision and ongoing consultation with colleagues, because one of my fundamental beliefs is that, ‘If I’m not growing, I’m dying.’

Most of the stories I have witnessed don’t have a “happily ever after” ending. At least not like you see in the movies or read in books. Growth? Yes. Progress? Yes. Healing? Yes. God showing up and doing what He does best? You bet. He transforms what we cannot. He becomes the wisdom, and power, and glory. He makes beauty from ashes. I just get a front row seat.

You don’t have to be a counselor to know someone’s story. You just have to get close enough to listen.

Ashley's Story

Rebecca shared these words at our 50th Anniversary Benefit Dinner on June 8, 2019. After Rebecca spoke, we debuted the beautiful story of transformation that Ashley, an Encompass client, was generous enough to share with us. If you missed story 17 in our series, watch Ashley’s video now. And catch up on our anniversary festivities by reading our 50th Weekend Recap.

Celebrating Five Decades of Ministry

This story is part of our "50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry" retrospective. Throughout 2019, we will be sharing 50 stories about the broken hearts, broken people, and broken families that have been made new by a loving and redemptive God. Have your own story about CCHO and our family of ministries? Click the button below to share it with us.

Read more

CCHO: The Next 50 Years (Story 21 of 50)

CCHO is celebrating 50 years of ministry! Throughout 2019, we will be sharing stories of the lives that have been forever changed by the work God has done through our family of ministries (CCHO, Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling). During our 50th Anniversary Benefit Dinner, we debuted several original videos to help celebrate the life change God has initiated through five decades of ministry. Today’s video, Story #19 in our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series, looks ahead in anticipation of what God may do with CCHO and our family of ministries over the next 50 years.

The Next 50 Years (#21)

Several CCHO employees share their vision for what’s ahead for our family of ministries and what “More” might look like over the next 50 years. Click here to see the full recap from our 50th Anniversary Benefit Dinner.

Celebrating Five Decades of Ministry

This story is part of our "50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry" retrospective. Throughout 2019, we will be sharing 50 stories about the broken hearts, broken people, and broken families that have been made new by a loving and redemptive God. Have your own story about CCHO and our family of ministries? Click the button below to share it with us.

Read more

A new day for Ashley (Story 17 of 50)

CCHO is celebrating 50 years of ministry! Throughout 2019, we will be sharing stories of the lives that have been forever changed by the work God has done through our family of ministries (CCHO, Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling). During our 50th Anniversary Benefit Dinner, we debuted several original videos to help celebrate the life change God has initiated through five decades of ministry. Today, we’re excited to share Ashley’s video with you as story #17 in our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series.

Ashley's Story (#17)

It is an honor to walk alongside people like Ashley, who has found health and healing for herself and her family during her time as an Encompass Christian Counseling client. Click here to see the full recap from our 50th Anniversary Benefit Dinner.

Celebrating Five Decades of Ministry

This story is part of our "50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry" retrospective. Throughout 2019, we will be sharing 50 stories about the broken hearts, broken people, and broken families that have been made new by a loving and redemptive God. Have your own story about CCHO and our family of ministries? Click the button below to share it with us.

Read more