Curtis: Welcome back. We have a special treat for you tonight. One of our Crosswinds counselors is here with us. Kiara Williams joins us to discuss the work she does right here in Indianapolis. Kiara, thank you for spending some time with us tonight.
Kiara: Yeah, of course. Glad to be here.
Curtis: How is life for you as a counselor? This has got to be a very interesting time to be a counselor.
Kiara: Yes it is.
Curtis: How’s life?
Kiara: Busy. Busy, but it’s going well. It’s going well. Just people coming in. The door is constantly rotating which is a good thing as a counselor, but as you know [as a] human it starts to get kind of tough sometimes. But it’s going really well.
Curtis: It is a good thing because we know that the need has gone through the roof here over the last couple of years for mental health services. So when people are coming through the door it at least tells us that more and more people are willing to maybe get past the stigma. Get past any barriers and at least see a counselor. So that is good. Right?
Kiara: Yes. Absolutely. The stigma is definitely being broken. It’s being shattered, which is amazing just to see in the community. To see, to be a part of, breaking the stigma around mental health and services and those types of things.
Curtis: So what do you think is – what can you attribute that to? What do you think is leading to the stigma [going down]? I think we’re all getting better about openly talking about it. What else maybe leads to that stigma being shattered? I love that word.
Kiara: Yeah. So I think just again that openness of having conversations. I think just culturally, that the barriers that are being broken. Being able to see you know people of color in the counseling services helps to bring people in. But I think also just helping to break down language and helping people to know like, we see you as counselors and we’re here to help you. We’re here to talk to you about the different things that you have going on and there’s not any [judgment]. You know, I always tell my clients that these four walls that we are in, this is your safe space. There’s no judgment here. There’s no fear here. I want my clients to feel safe, and I think that the more that people enter into the counseling sessions, they know that’s a safe space. Outside of the counseling session the world might not feel so safe, but when they come into the room this is a safe place.
Curtis: And that’s probably a new message for people of color. Especially I feel like I’ve seen a lot of numbers that back up historically, African Americans and Hispanics have been really leery of getting into a counseling session and into a counseling setting. Is that what you have seen throughout your career?
Kiara: Absolutely, yes. And I think too, just culturally – you know, when you’re talking to certain cultures… Just the cultural piece of ‘we don’t talk about things outside of the home.’ You know it makes me think of, I have young clients who talk about the movie Encanto and Disney. The message behind one of the songs in there of like, ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno,’ and how in families, a lot of times things are not talked about. And we don’t talk about them not only in our family, but we don’t talk about them outside of the family. So now being able to have social media platforms – being able to have you know segments, like this, where people are coming and saying like, ‘It’s okay to talk about mental health.’ ‘It’s okay to talk about things that you’re struggling with.’ It’s okay to know that – you know ‘I can talk about this with someone who’s a trusted source who supports me, and I’m not alone in what I’m going through.’
Curtis: There’s also this whole element of, I think historically no matter what race you are what your background is, I think i would say this about myself that there might have been a stigma of, ‘Oh if I see a counselor, there’s something wrong with me. I’m not normal. And i don’t want anyone to think that or know that.’ But it’s such a base level. We just all need help at times. We need to talk to others. We need to communicate. We need to be in connection with each other. I don’t know – I feel like that’s a big part of what maybe has changed in society is that mindset shift from, ‘Ooh something’s wrong with me,’ to ‘No. You know what it’s healthy to actually talk about problems.’
Kiara: Absolutely, yeah. I tell my clients all the time. You know we go to the doctor for a yearly physical. And so if I go to the doctor and nothing’s wrong – just to get checked out like I can go and talk to someone just to have someone to listen to me because again, like you said maybe it’s not that anything’s wrong, but i just want someone to listen. I want someone to be able to vent to. Someone to be able to get these things in my head. Get these things that I go through on a day-to-day basis out, and have someone – again a safe space. A safe person to talk to about these different things [with].
Curtis: So work is busy. What are you seeing from clients what kind of issues? Is it all of the things that you normally have seen? Maybe just ramped up? Or are there new issues that you are helping people to work through these days?
Kiara: Yeah. So it’s definitely some of both. You know just the typical issues that we may see in a counseling session, but then also really with the transition back into, um you know ‘normal’ or whatever that is, and the ‘real world’ – um post-pandemic – is really what we’re seeing a lot of. Or what I’ve been seeing a lot of. Just the anxiety of entering back into the workforce. The anxiety of figuring out, okay, well what does it look like for me to you know to have to go back into dropping my children off. Or you know go back into the workplace because my boss is talking about reopening the work environment. And I’m not sure if I’m ready. I don’t know if I’m ready to go back in – and sit super close to people again. Or you know they’re saying six feet but they’ve hired x amount of people now, and I don’t know what that’s going to look like in my workplace.
Curtis: On top of that, right as we’re trying to come out of this pandemic, inflation’s gone through the roof. Everything costs five times what it used to cost. Are you seeing that financial stress and those pressures mounting on your clients as well?
Kiara: I am. I’m definitely seeing that as well. Just because of, you know, people questioning if they can still afford services, and people trying to figure out.
‘All right, well what does it look like for me to feed my family?’
‘What does it look like, again, if I have to start driving to work? What does that look like.’
‘I have to take my children to school? What does that look like?’
‘I still want to hang out with my friends. What does that look like?’
All these different things. And so definitely, seeing the financial pressures as well in the counseling sessions.
Curtis: Let’s talk about Crosswinds from the perspective of being an employee. You’re a counselor for Crosswinds, obviously. It’s a great place to work. What makes it a great place to work?
Kiara: Yeah, so I think just for me, being able to know that – you know we do a monthly meeting, and when we go into our monthly meetings, every time before we start we do devotionals. We are you know, having just fellowship and worship. And I think sometimes, in the workforce, we lose that. We lose the ability to be open and radical about our faith. And I appreciate the fact that, like, I can do that. And not only with my co-workers, but also with my my clients. When they come in – you know if someone’s like, ‘I’m having a really tough day.’ Like, ‘All right, well what does the Bible say about this?’ Okay, ‘What does Jesus say about [it].’ Just when we’re going through difficult things – like, ‘How can we cast our cares onto him?’ And, you know, just being able to see sometimes as a Christian, it doesn’t always click, but sometimes you know, when we have someone, else that’s saying, ‘Hey, I see that, and you know – how can we still cast that on to Jesus?’ It’s like, ‘Oh man. I forgot. I forgot about that.’
Curtis: What would you say to a counselor out there who’s not with Crosswinds? Maybe [they’re] considering a change of employment. Why should they come join Crosswinds? Why should they be a part of the Crosswinds family?
Kiara: Yeah, so I think for me, I love the flexibility. I love the ability to, you know, still continue to determine when am I taking clients? When am I not taking clients? What are they? You know for me, I have a lot of teenagers and a lot of children. And so for me, right now, I appreciate the fact that I’m able to go to my supervisors and say, ‘Hey, I kind of want to take a break from this.’ And they’re supportive of that. And it’s not a, ‘Oh well, you really should be doing this.’ It’s like, “No, well let us know when you’re ready to reopen up your caseload to that demographic again, and we’ll do that.’ So I really appreciate that.
Curtis: We met Rob Eicher, the new vice president of Crosswinds last week. Got any dirt on him? Anything you want to share with us?
Kiara: Oh, no. He came to one of our meetings before, and he’s a really great person. I’m excited to see what he does for the company.
Curtis: Yeah, me too. Kiara thank you so much for being here. It’s great to be with you again.
Kiara: Yeah, [it’s] nice. Thanks for having me.