Without the guidance, counseling, groups, workshops, love and respect I got from working with Karen, I would not be the person I am today. I honestly can say I might not even be alive today. My childhood was filled with abuse, including daily sexual abuse by my father, and emotional abuse and lack of love from my mother. When I first met Karen, I was sad, emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. I had been in two marriages, one that had failed, one that was quickly failing. Karen was recommended by my husband. We were separated at the time (again) but I desperately needed help.
Seldom when we get into counseling do we know the real reasons we are going … I am an intelligent person, this was not my first time seeing counselors, but Karen was definitely different, in an amazing way. I felt comfortable and at ease. Her eclectic style of approach was much needed because different problems respond to different approaches. I was totally unaware of the effect my abuse had on me. Karen understood very well the danger I was in emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. If I had been able to afford inpatient treatment for my abuse, she told me, she would send me. Instead she lovingly began a process of healing with me that was to become the foundation for rebuilding my life.
I was a complex case and her work with me is testimony to her ability to recognize, analyze and figure out an individual approach to help people. No bandaids, no pats on the back and “it’ll be fine” b.s. I was in her office four to five days a week. Groups, individual and couples counseling. Using any method available to get through to my innocent self. A kind of breaking down to build me up, but so subtle and gentle that it felt like a rescue, a salvation, hope. It felt like hope would feel to someone who had NEVER experienced it. Yes, I know I had to be willing to do the work, but I also had to have trust, to want to put out my hand so I would be led. I know it sounds smarmy, but truly her work with me was the single most important mechanism in my healing.
As far as the marriage part of the healing, I think my husband and I were perhaps a great test of Karen’s skills and gifts. She told us after just a session or two that we were the undoubtedly the “gamiest couple” she had ever met! She told us more than once that she wished she had a referree’s whistle to use during our sessions. As I later learned, my husband and I had so little example set for us and so much abuse by the adults in our lives growing up that we pulled every coping skill we had to survive. One up-manship, I’m better than you, Parent/Child, I love you/go away, etc. We manipulated and faked all of them. With Karen’s help, we learned to recognize these games, we learned to play differently, we learned to commit and stop running when things got tough, we learned to communicate. Twenty five years later we still have not left each other, we still use the tools we learned, we still are in love. We celebrate 30 years of marriage this year.
I can’t say enough about Karen. I was attracted to her genuine loving personality, her sweet accent, her ability to gently but firmly lead me in the right directions. I wanted to learn from her. During our work together Karen never crossed boundaries between professional and personal relationships. Yet somehow it seemed she was my friend and I trusted her implicitly.
I would recommend anyone to work with Karen. She has qualifications in many areas. One thing I want to mention is that I was and am still unbearably traumatized and resistant to “organized religion,” yet Karen is an ordained minister and theology expert. She is also acutely aware of the effects of spiritual and religious abuse. She is one of the very few people that has been able to translate biblical references to me in a way I can understand and accept because I do believe it essential to have a Higher Power and a way to be in contact with that power. Now I can call my Higher Power “Love,”my prayer “talking and seeking that Love” and my “sins” simply shortcomings or missing the mark, failing to reach the target of love.
I also have been able to help many others and pass on what I have learned. When I met Karen I had about seven years in recovery from addiction. I have worked with numbers of young women in recovery over the years and am able to recognize many traits in them that I had because I gained so much insight from my work with Karen. I will have over 31 years in recovery in June 2014 and I believe the best way I can give back to Karen what she gave to me is to pass it on as freely as she did to my husband and me.