SUMMARY: In this episode of “It’s Just Coffee”, hosts Phillip Crum and Kathleen Mills meet Kim Smith, who is new to Life Tree Counseling. They discuss cognitive behavioral therapy as well as Kim’s background in employee assistance programs.
Episode #20 | Join Kathleen And Phillip And Meet Life Tree’s New Counselor Kim Smith.
Kathleen Mills-Proprietor, Counselor at Life Tree Counseling
Phillip Crum-The Content Marketing Coach
Kim Smith-Counselor, Life Tree Counseling
PHILLIP CRUM: It’s time once again for another episode of Kathleen Mills from Lifetree Counseling and “It’s Just Coffee.”
KATHLEEN MILLS: How are you doing, Phillip?
PC: I’m excellent. Tell me something about Lifetree Counseling. Where would I find you? What do you do?
KM: Lifetree Counseling Center is an outpatient group practice. We see children, adolescents, adults, through their employee assistance programs, insurance, and self-pay. We’re a group practice so we’re open Monday through Saturday 8 am through 7 pm. All of the therapists have online schedule that is available through our website and it makes it very easy, convenient and all that for our clients.
PC: Accessible, are you?
PC: I know your business model is one where you like to find budding counselors that are in need of a platform, a place to grow.
KM: They just need a soft place to land. That’s our logo, actually.
PC: Grow ‘em up and kick ‘em out. Let them start their own practice at some point.
KM: Raise them up from the ground up.
PC: And you’ve been doing this for how long?
KM: Twenty-two years.
PC: Twenty-two years.
KM: July 1st, we’ll be starting our 23rd year. I can’t believe it’s gone pretty quickly, and the way that I can remember that is — this is something you don’t know, because I knew you were going to ask me this, is when Lifetree was, we were doing the startup, I was seven months pregnant. I would not recommend that to anybody, but that just had to happen and there you go.
PC: I know that you have had a lot of interest from new faces wanting to come on board the ship. What’s behind all that?
KM: I think it’s just they’re interested in the business plan that can be obtained while developing their private practice within a group practice, because that’s how I see it, and successfully launch sequentially, in a sequential way, is very appealing to many people, professionals. Not a professional group or whatever, but especially the young ones. When I mean “young ones”, I’m talking about…
PC: Do you have any new hatchlings on board here lately?
KM: Two. And it’s showcase time for one of them today.
PC: And would her name be KS?
KM: It would. How did you know that? You’re psychic.
PC: Welcome, KS.
KM: Hi, Kim.
Kim Smith: Thank you. Hello. Hey, Kathleen.
KM: Hey, Kim. How are you?
KM: You’ve got a smile on your face.
PC: I want to know, how did you find Kathleen originally?
KS: I’m trying to remember. I actually met her a long time ago through Lifetree, well I say a long time ago — it’s been a little over a year and talked to her about possibly coming on board. I don’t think, at that time, I was ready to go into private practice. I was still a little shaky and the idea of it kind of scared me a little bit.
PC: You come from an agency background, or another?
KS: Well, actually, both. I did my pre-graduate internship with a nonprofit agency in Plano where I saw children and adults and domestic violence victims, taught some first offender classes I co-taught with other interns, for adolescents who had committed misdemeanor offenses or school had sent them in order for them to get pardoned from that. That was very interesting and that was really my passion is working with people directly.
PC: So how did you meet this one?
KS: Kathleen? I’m sorry, I think I got off-track. If I remember correctly, I think Kathleen initially had an ad out asking for anyone who was interested in interviewing with her to come in and speak with her. As luck would have it, I just happened to get an e-mail form her because I was on her e-mail list. About a month ago, maybe a little longer, and I was like, “I really liked her when I met her. I really want to go talk to her. I think I’m ready to jump in now.”
KM: I didn’t scare her the first time. She came back for more.
KS: She did not scare me. In fact, I was going to say earlier, you asked what’s bringing people in to want to do this, I’m like “It’s all about Kathleen. She’s awesome.” We just keep coming back. No, this time around, I talked to her and everything lined up with me being ready to jump in and sink or swim – no, I’m kidding – no, I’m ready.
KM: I give life preservers out every day with a little bit of chocolate. The combo’s really good with that.
PC: You’re the mother duck, that’s what it is. So what is your specialty?
KS: Specialty-wise, I would say general mental health. Anybody with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, any kind of. My passion in helping people also lies with trauma. Anybody that’s been subject to any kind of abuse, domestic violence, that kind o thing. I just have a special heart for those KSks that have been through a rough time and there are a lot of people out there that have been through some pretty rough experiences and you would never know it.
KM: You have a tender heart.
KS: I do.
KM: And it’s for that population that is much needed, don’t you think?
KS: You need a lot of compassion and a lot of gentle. I think they need gentle intervention.
KM: You are the one to do it.
KS: Thank you. I certainly hope so, and I look forward to being able to work with those KSks that really need some TLC.
KM: You’ve got expertise, too, that you didn’t quite go into, but if you could just. You have employee assistance program background, big time.
KS: I do. I worked for an insurance company doing intake. In fact, that’s where I cam efrom prior to coming on board with Kathleen. I did intake and assessments for KSks in a call center for their EAP benefits. I don’t know, a lot of KSks…. It’s strange. They don’t even realize they have the benefit, a lot of times. They find out maybe through HR or their supervisor, once they’re having a rough time or maybe having some struggles. But they would call in and say, “I have this benefit. I get so many free sessions.”
KM: They know how many sessions, don’t they? They’re telling you, aren’t they?
KS: They usually do say, “I have five sessions.” I would talk to them just to determine, make sure they’re a) safe and it’s not a necessary case of them needing to go to an ER hospital, something that might require a little more emergent intervention. Once I determined that, I would see what their issue was and talk them through it, talk them through the steps of using the EAP benefit and then help connect them with a counselor in their area. We had people all over the United States and Puerto Rico that were members and so I may be talking to someone in Washington, helping them locate counselors in the particular city where they were and trying to find the appropriate resources for them.
KM: You really have a nice combination of you understand the EAP product, you understand the short-term, and you understand it’s free and you assess correctly where this person needs to go. You’ve got that expertise in terms of, “I may not be the person for this, but you might be more appropriate over here,” and that’s what I really like about you.
KS: Thank you. And I do actually have a strong background in assessment in general because, prior to that, when I was working on my required hours for my LPC, I worked in a hospital intake center, a psychiatric hospital intake department, working with people who had come in seeking either admission to the hospital or just wanting to know what direction to take to get some help. Determining whether they were appropriate to be admitted to the hospital for emergency reasons or maybe if they were appropriate for outpatient programs or outpatient counseling individually, was the main thing that I did there. It’s very important to me to put someone in a situation that’s appropriate for them. If I don’t feel like I’m the right candidate to help someone, I’m not going to waste their time. With staying with me, I’m going to get them referred to a counselor that I feel like has that expertise in that area, which they need most.
KM: You basically have that gift of, when people call, they really truly don’t know where to go or what to do and you have that nice piece of determining where they need to go and I think that’s very beneficial at the front because it makes the client more appreciative and it makes their recovery so much easier. I think that’s why she’s a good fit at Lifetree.
PC: If you look up “calm” in the dictionary, I think her picture’s there. She looKS very calm to me.
KM: She just takes it, lets it roll off her back.
KS: Don’t ask my husband about that, because he might not agree with you. I’ll let you think that for now.
PC: I know something about her.
PC: She’s from Paree.
KM: Paree? Texas, y’all.
KS: I barely speak any French. I am from Paris, northeast Texas. We do have an Eiffel Tower with a cowboy hat on top of it. It’s a big, funny landmark that people come to see.
KM: Seriously? Paris, Texas.
KS: It’s not to scale. It doesn’t really look like a small-scale version of the Eiffel Tower, but they tried to make it look that way.
KM: I think that should be a road trip sometime for us, just to see that. I missed that when I went to Paris, Texas long ago.
KS: It’s out by their convention center. They built a new convention center quite a few years ago.
KM: That was before.
KS: It’s close to Paris Junior College, if you know where that is.
KM: I jst got in my car.
KS: You just rode along.
KM: I just rode along but I didn’t know.
PC: What kind of clientele are you looking to build up, specifically?
KS: I definitely will work with adults and adolescents. I work with children, too, so anyone from about age six to 12 is fine. I work generally using cognitive behavioral therapy. I feel it’s important to adapt therapeutic style to what the client needs, but for the most part, that is my method of therapy. That’s basically helping folks with some. Maybe as one of the founder, Aaron Beck, cognitive behavioral therapy calls “twisted thinking”. It’s helping people who have these automatic thought processes going through things that may have happened to them in childhood or the way they brought up. Maybe being fed negative connotations of things and they developed a negative sense about themselves. Maybe their self-esteem has been lowered or negative thoughts about others and what the future brings them. They just don’t know always have a lot of hope, and that brings a lot of anxiety and depression and challenging those thoughts and helping them figure out, where did these thoughts come from, what’s causing them, what kind of emotions do they bring up with you. How can we talk about these thoughts and figure out whether they’re realistic or not. It helps a lot of people and I’ll tell you – and I don’t mean to get sidebarred again here – my reasoning for being so passionate about that and wanting to do counseling in the first place. I saw a counselor years ago, probably about ten years ago or more, for some traumatic circumstances that I’d been through and some personal struggles. He was amazing. He actually used CBT with me and I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time, I just knew it worked. Helping me figure out, “Why do you think these things? What can you ask yourself about these thoughts that proves them to be either true or false?” He taught me how to do that on my own, and I was just blown away by how much it helped relieve anxiety about things. And still today, I have to sometimes what I preach and say, “What leads you to believe that’s true, Kim?” That helps me to be able to keep myself grounded and relieves a lot of anxiety about things.
KM: So you really enjoy working from the cognitive behavioral therapy model because it just works and it’s comfortable for you and you see so much growth and healing as a result of that. It’s just a great fit for you and your clients.
PC: I’m listening and I don’t know what cognitive behavioral therapy is. Is that brain surgery? What are we talking about here?
KM: Go ahead, Kim.
PC: So what is it?
KS: What it is, basically. People, as I said, will develop negative thoughts or what’s called “schemas” – that’s the technical term for it. That can be from, like I said, negative messages people have received growing up. Some people are just born with this innate anxiety. Some of is is just the person. I think I’m one of those people; too, I get a little shaky about things sometimes. But because they have these automatic thoughts going through their head – and I’ll give you an example – somebody may have this thought of “I’m worthless. I can’t do anything right.” They start to believe that about themselves.
KM: It’s the negative imprinting.
KS: It is. They begin to believe things about other people, too. “John didn’t say hi to me this morning. That means he hates me.” That’s the automatic thinking that occurs and sometimes, that’s not even conscious. Sometimes, it just happens in your mind and it’s an assumption and it brings up the emotions that you experience, such as depression, worry, fear, sometimes panic. Cognitive behavior therapy is collaboration with the client to talk about those feelings and the thoughts behind those emotions, examine where they’re coming from and also to talk about – go through a dialog of questioning. “What gives you proof that John hates you? What kind of reasoning might you have to think that and what if John was busy or distracted? Maybe he didn’t see you.” That’s the kind of dialog you use basically. And that’s a simplistic version.
KM: The alternative ways to look at the same situation with different thoughts.
KS: You might look at that and say, “How is that going to help me? I’m still going to believe the same thing.” But, really, with practice and with a therapist guiding you through the process, it becomes a habit. You actually make it a habit to question yourself when you start having these negative thoughts.
PC: The other schemas are habits as well. Those are learned habits.
KS: You can actually undo those, but it takes a little practice. Sometimes, it takes a little homework. I don’t mean, I’m going to send home a book for people to read. I might have you note when you’re having a certain emotion and what triggered it and we’ll talk about how that happened and how it can change the next time.
PC: What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
KS: I’m going to bring out my really geeky side. A lot of what I do is play strategy games. My husband and I and friends of ours, we play these European strategy board games. They’re very fun and challenging and exciting. I rarely win but, hey, I’m a good loser, a good sport.
KM: You play well with others.
KS: I do. You can check me off the list of I don’t get angry when I lose.
PC: Which board game? Which European board games? Board games that came from Europe or board games with Europe on them?
KS: A little of both. They’re manufactured in Europe. Germany, Italy, from all different countries. But Germany carries the huge majority of Euro board games. I could name some – I don’t know if you would have ever heard of them. They’re usually just based on victory points and you have little wooden pieces, a lot of times, and all kinds of neat little bits. My husband gets excited when he opens one o the games. “Oh, this has the neatest bits to it.” He’s like a kid.
PC: That sounds really geeky.
KS: It is.
KM: I’m going to have to have a “geek day” at Lifetree.
PC: Anything else?
KS: I do stained glass, but I haven’t worked on anything in a while. I’ve been a little too busy and sometimes, it’s hard to find a good space in the house to work and I don’t like getting glass all over the place.
KM: That’s probably helpful.
PC: So are you all set up at Lifetree?
KS: I’m just about there. Kathleen has been good to me. She’s got my office is set up. I have an extension now. I’ve got my schedule ready for folks to be able to view.
PC: If someone wants to schedule something with you, or if they want to find you, how do they do that?
KS: They can go to the website, and that is www dot Lifetreecounseling dot com. My name is KS. You can click on the “Counselors” tab and I’ll be in the list of counselors. There’s a little leaf icon that says “schedule an appointment”. You can click on that and look at my availability and schedule it right then and there. It can be at midnight, you can be in your pajamas, and you can schedule an appointment with me. You can also call 972-234-6634 and my extension is 305.
PC: I’m still PC and I can be found at contentmarketingcoach dot us. 214-264-6297 and I’ll tell you where to find Kim or that one over there.
KM: Lifetreecounseling dot com. Same number, 972-234-6634, extension 104.
PC: Kim, any last thoughts?
KS: I’m just really excited to be at Lifetree and I’m excited to meet the folks that are going to come in. I’m ready to help. I’m looking forward to it.
KM: Lifetree’s looking forward to it. You’re going to be a great asset.
PC: Thanks for listening, everybody, and we’ll see you later. On we go.