Encompass Christian Counseling – Christian Children’s Home of Ohio

Encompass Christian Counseling

Sensitive therapist

Each horse at One Heart Stables brings a unique personality to their role in equine therapy as they serve the children in our residential program as well as adults and children in the general public through Encompass Christian Counseling. We’ve come to believe that people will pick the horse they truly need, and in turn our clients are able to engage in an honest, non-judgmental relationship with their horse.

Name: Sunny
Age: 22
Breed: Paint Mare

Sunny came to One Heart Stables many years ago through a donor and has been a great asset to our program. About four years ago, Sunny was given to a teenage girl who really needed a horse in her life; now an adult, Sunny’s owner generously decided to put Sunny into our therapy program so that Sunny can give other people that help that she received from this special horse.

Sunny is now a sensitive “therapist” with our clients. She is kind, gentle, and gives 100% while working with her clients.

Volunteer at One Heart Stables

Serve using your passions and gifts at One Heart Stables. Volunteer opportunities include general stable maintenance, equine grooming/care and horse leader/side walker support for therapy sessions. Learn more and inquire today.

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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.

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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

Josie’s triumph (Story 7 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). God even uses horses to help kids and adults understand His great and unconditional love for them. Story 7 (first printed in the spring 2019 issues of “All Things”) from our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series takes us to One Heart Stables on the Wooster Campus of CCHO. Our equine program began in 1995 as one more therapeutic approach to helping individuals experience their worth in Christ. This program has expanded to serve adults and children in the general public through Encompass. Equine Therapist Krista Overmire, LCPC, shares about God’s transformative work in the arena.

When I first met Josie, I met a powerhouse of a young woman; she presented as a strong, independent teenager with something to prove to the world. She was fluent in psychology, philosophy, and teenager, and she had an opinion about every current issue facing our nation. I found myself going home and researching current events just so that I could sound intelligent when conversing with her! Josie was strong and fearless.

During her first session with me, Josie’s goal was to meet each of the therapy horses and pick the one that would become her equine partner. She met our elegant Thoroughbred Adam, our charming Arabian Magic, our gentle Quarter Horse Blue, and our sweet Paint Sunny. But it was Moses who caught and held Josie’s attention. Moses is our Draft cross, and both his body and his personality are quite large. Moses has been known to nibble on coat pockets and hair, open his stall door when nobody is looking, and playfully throw his bridle across the aisleway when his stall window is open. Our theory in equine therapy is that people will pick the horse that they truly need; it turns out that Josie did just that.

Over the next few months, Josie came faithfully to the barn every week to work on forging a relationship with Moses. While Josie enjoyed Moses’ company, she found it incredibly difficult to maintain a mutual, emotional connection with the horse. Josie used her body language to ask the horse to come to her, yet the horse often responded by ignoring her completely; she found herself feeling frustrated and hurt from the horse’s seeming rejection.

Weeks turned into months of this similar pattern, and one blustery winter day, Josie broke. She cried as she told me about growing up in a family that viewed women as lesser than men, in both worth and intellect. Josie told me about how she constantly felt the need to prove to everyone around her, including her parents and siblings, that she was smart and that she was worth something. However, Josie’s defenses of intellect and wit did not work with the 1,400-pound animal. Josie had never received the unconditional love of another; instead, any love and connection that she superficially obtained was fought for and earned. Suddenly, her fight for her worth did not work, and she was left feeling alone and empty. I watched Josie shatter, all façade of strong and fearless left in the arena dirt.

Meanwhile, Moses was being, “Moses-y”, or his usual ornery self, on the other side of the arena; he was chewing on a lead rope and throwing it into the air, completely disengaged from Josie and me. As I walked Josie through her brokenness, she said something that I will never forget. Josie started to realize that when the horse started to connect with her, she felt a shift in her body energy, which she later described as, “surprise”. When I asked Josie why she felt surprised that the horse wanted to connect with her, she looked at the ground and almost whispered, “Why would anybody want to connect with me?” My heart sank, and tears filled my eyes.

In that moment of true vulnerability, God did the miraculous. Seconds after Josie released those heavy words and pain poured from Josie’s heart, Moses responded; he picked up his head, dropped the lead rope, turned around, and walked straight over to Josie, stopping directly in front of her. I watched in silent awe as Moses put his massive head over her shoulder and wrapped her in an equine embrace, as if to say, “You are worthy of love and connection, and I am going to prove it to you.”

Silence fell around the arena as both Josie and I let our tears fall. Time slowed as Josie wrapped her arms around the giant horse’s neck, buried her face in his mane, and wept.

Moses taught Josie about her inherent worth that day. After months of desperately trying to connect with the horse the only way Josie knew how, Moses showed her that there is another way. Moses taught Josie that she does not have to fight for connection or prove that she is worthy of love; instead, Moses loved and accepted her by authentically embracing her in a moment of vulnerability and pain. Moses taught Josie that she is capable of being loved unconditionally, perhaps for the first time in Josie’s life.

Isn’t that such a beautiful picture of how our God wants to connect with us? We are marred and stained with sin and shame, yet God wants to connect with us in our broken places. We try to act like we have it all together; we compete with our peers to see who can create the best façade of a perfect life. But God, like Moses, wants nothing to do with our façade and everything to do with the condition of our hearts. He meets us in our authenticity and wraps us in His unconditional, loving embrace, proving to us that we are loved and accepted, flaws and all. What a relief it is to know that I don’t have to be perfect to be loved and accepted!

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for your unconditional love. Thank you for the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that we may be freely forgiven and accepted into your family. Teach us to love unconditionally the way that you love us. We love you endlessly.
Amen.

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

Healing for a kindergartener’s heart (Story 6 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). This next story comes from one of our school-based therapists at Encompass. Abby Fischer, LISW, serves at Triway Local Schools to support the social-emotional needs of students in the school environment. In story #6 from our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series, Abby shares about a young student whose life has been changed by supportive mental health services.

Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to work in variety of different locations. The change of scenery is one of the reasons I appreciate my career. When I accepted the position of working directly in the school system, I had some worry that my favorite aspect of the job would become somewhat bland and monotonous. However, after meeting Joey I realized I would have more than enough unique opportunities to stretch my knowledge and keep me on my toes.

Joey was a kindergarten student when I started working with him. He had the typical chubby cheeks of a kindergartener. He was missing his two front teeth and had the most stunning eye color. Joey was sitting quietly in his seat when I entered the room, seemingly no different from any other student. Soon after, though, I was understood why I was asked to work with Joey.

Joey was instructed to complete some morning work (a mixture of small tasks to help kindergarten students practice their knowledge). The result of this request was a crumpled piece of paper, a broken pencil and some intense grunting refusals.

Joey’s teacher quietly approached his desk and gently encouraged him to take a break. Joey put his head down on his desk for several seconds, seemingly to agree that a break was necessary, only to explode up out of his seat, catching the desk in the process. A whirlwind ensued; papers, crayons, books, chairs and toys scattered across the room in no time.

Soon after, Joey was taken out of the classroom to calm down in a different room with no onlooking students. He then became aggressive toward teachers, hitting, kicking, grunting and breaking anything he could touch. There seemed to be no end to this angry episode. Joey had a long road ahead.

Reflecting back on this incident, I recall my first impression of teachers and administrators working with this student in true crisis. The calm demeanor they presented, along with their consistent and loving manner with Joey, was amazing to witness. This approach continued for each of Joey’s outbursts that persisted for the next six months.

Joey’s mom came to meeting after meeting and shared how he was struggling at home as well. She spoke of her frustration and occasionally shed tears with school staff, wondering how to help her son.

Joey slowly began to demonstrate some improvement in small areas. He really enjoyed one-on-one attention and showcased that he was highly capable of completing kindergarten level tasks. He learned to give coping skills to older students who came into the classroom struggling; however, it was too difficult for him to implement these skills himself.

Eventually, Joey met with Dr. Reynolds, CCHO’s psychiatrist who prescribed the right combination of medication to meet his needs. Joey’s Attention Deficit Disorder was so severe that life for Joey was like watching the scene selection of a three-hour movie, instead of the whole movie. He was becoming frustrated because he was receiving small bits and pieces of information and it was confusing. The correct medication combined with ongoing therapeutic efforts of school staff, CPST workers and myself helped Joey overcome his symptoms and return to a normal classroom setting.

I’m happy to share that Joey is currently excelling in the classroom. He has the highest test scores out of all the students in his grade and always has a smile and a hug to give. He still enjoys teaching all his peers coping skills that he has learned along the way. Recently Joey received the “Leader of the Month” award at his school. Due to all the positive growth he has demonstrated, his mom now cries tears of joy when she meets about her son.

Joey is just one of 45 children currently being served by Encompass in the school environment. He is a beautiful example of how the appropriate mental health intervention can change someone’s life. I’m excited to see what God has in store for his future.

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