I have been to numerous counselors over the past 16 years to learn to find a voice and direction through the pains of 10 years in a marriage coated in domestic violence and abuse, and 6 of those years in recovery, the aftermath. An exemplary counselor is trained to give solid advice on a specified subject, encouragement, support, and a listening ear. The guidance on personal, social, or psychological problems has been studied thoroughly by particular counselors. Through their education, practice, and life experiences; they hope to help lead individuals into a more positive outcome for their future. The area of expertise needed will vary depending on the mental health/situations of individuals.
Counselors work with individuals, groups, and communities to improve mental health. Counselors encourage clients to discuss emotions and experiences, thus enabling them to support individuals by helping them to identify and work through their issues. They examine issues including but not limited to: substance abuse, aging, bullying, anger management, careers, depression, relationships, anxiety, self-image, stress, PTSD, and suicidal tendencies. A counselor uses techniques, such as talking therapy, to assist people to reach their own resolutions or develop strategies and goal setting to address and remedy their concerns. They also refer clients to other healthcare professionals where appropriate, and incorporate a health management team as needed.
A doctor, physical or massage therapist, an acupuncturist, a friend, a family member, a Family Safety Network, church leaders, coaches, yoga instructors, mediators, lawyers…….the list goes on, well-meaning people encouraging you to see a counselor. This was my list for years. And I took the advice of others in my muddled frame of mind hoping for a better frame of mind in the end. I was very blessed along my journey going in and out of different counseling offices. Always going in feeling anxious, nervous, afraid, doubting, wanting to cancel the appointment I had made. But, nearly always leaving with a spring in my step, burdens lifted, heart graced with hope again, and a genuine smile on my face. I learned a great deal from every single counselor, because I went in with the mind set to change, to grow, to learn, listen, take down notes, apply anything I could to my life the moment I stepped out of the office.
I was made aware of Ostermiller Counseling Services (OCS), through the Head Start program in my home town. (More insight and gratitude for Head Start in a future blog). While attending one of the evening parent events put on monthly by the Head Start, a guest speaker, Jared Ostermiller, from OCS gave a 1.5 hour presentation. Jared was filled with wisdom, obvious compassion for his line of work, a non-judgmental demeanor, a huge heart for everyone in the room, patiently answering questions with thought provoking advice, a willingness to also learn from the responses of those in the room. He has a lovely wife and 5 children of his own, and now grandchildren, so also through his personal life experiences bringing the wisdom of real life into action. I noticed he had an incredible love for children, their safety, well-being, and hopes for their positive future.
After the meeting, I was amazed by the exemplary abilities of this counselor. The next day I was sure to ask my Family Advocate, through Head Start, if this man also offered counseling to women who have endured domestic violence and abuse. I was thrilled to get connected to the OCS office, and found the staff to be welcoming, kind, compassionate, and understanding. I booked my first counseling session with Jared, now nearly five years ago. I have spent the last five years in and out of OCS office as needed, for myself, the health and well-being of my children, and sessions spent with my new fiancé before we were married in June, 2016. (My glorious journey now, with the most incredibly selfless, genuinely supportive, loving, caring husband, yet to come in future posts).
Yes, finding the counselor that is right for you can be tricky. But be patient, and when you do discover the connection, build rapport and establish a solid foundation. Jared Ostermiller was and has been the counselor for me. His expertise through now nearly 20 years of work shines through each session. He is always ready with a genuine greeting, incredible ability to listen, process, and then suggest and advise. Using guided illustrations, always studying and willing to further his own knowledge in his line of work, looking up information if needed to devise a better explanation, patient in his countenance, positively encouraging, seeking to help me carry out steps for a brighter future. Very supportive of my individuality, my hopes, and dreams.
I was saddened when he informed me that it is rare for any woman to survive and then to not only thrive, but stand courageously shining after the life experiences I shared with him over the years. It burdened me so deeply to hear that most women end up on drugs, become alcoholic, possibly end up in a psychiatric ward, committing suicide, in jail, or even return to the same man or end up with another abusive partner. The burden for others enduring my own shame, agony, frustrations, and pain was too great! I knew then and there that one day I wanted to be a voice in the darkness, because I actually lived through it all to tell my story in hopes of becoming a beacon of light for others.
I have tried to commit suicide a few times, see (Suicide Stopped by a Rainbow) blog post. I have definitely felt edgy and paranoid, I have experienced years of PTSD, and chronic anxiety since 2004, the year I married the first time. I returned numerous times to the same man only for life to become more desperate, feeling trapped inside, trapped in another country, away from my own family. Depression and anxiety have consumed me on many occasions, especially once I became a single mom with my three small children, now six years ago. At times locking my bedroom door, and then hiding myself away in my locked bathroom too. Unable to cope with life. But, deep inside, I have always had the strength of a stallion, tearing myself out of my misery and again embracing my three little angels with arms wide open. Mustering up the courage to go on. Their tears of fear and concern for me falling on me like the kisses of angels, giving me purpose to charge forward for their sakes! Please see previous blog posts to learn more of my journey, my survival, and know that my strength comes from the Maker of Heaven and Earth.
I hope my description of an excellent counselor for my needs, will help you on your search for the one that is right for you. Stay strong, don’t give up, be courageous enough to find the counselor for you, you will be glad you did!