Sunday, October 22, 2017


"I'll bet you a nickle I can kiss you without touching you."
The first time I was forced to feel sexualized and  powerless was when I was 12 years old.  He was..?? 50-something and a physical education teacher at my junior high school.  As I have often looked back on that incident, I am aware of the grooming of me that he did prior to that moment.  He was complimentary and friendly.  Always greeted me or waved from across the room. It made me feel special and I liked that I was recognized, (or so I thought), more than the hundreds of other kids in my school.  In my naivete, I trusted him and respected him.  He was a teacher and we were taught that they deserved those things simply because of their title, position, and age.
We were waiting for the bell, that released us to our next class, to ring.  He came over and signaled for me to come talk with him.  Me!  In front of everyone else!  Me!  Then, I remember being amazed at his question.  Certainly he could not kiss me without touching me and he would lose and I would be a nickle richer.  He took me into a storage area and kissed me on the lips and simply said, "I lose" as he handed me the nickle.  My lips were burning, my heart was exploding with shame.  Almost instantly a female teacher walked in and questioned in an accusing tone, "What are you two doing in here?"  She had put the blame equally on me as it was on him.
Sitting at dinner that evening, my lips continued to burn.  I imagined that my mother could tell something was wrong, that I had done something terrible.  Of course, she didn't know, but my guilt and shame were overwhelming. What would have happened if I told her?  I feared I would be punished, so I said nothing.
The teacher continued to harass me by frequently asking me if I wanted to "bet a nickle".  I could not escape it and thought I was powerless to do anything about it.  This was just the first of many unwanted sexual advances, comments, and gestures that I have experienced and the recent news events and #MeToo movement has reminded me of how those behaviors had impacted me not only during my impressionable adolescent years, but well into my adulthood.
The October 30, 2017 issue of Time Magazine's article, "The View" begins with this sentence, "Cognitive dissonance is a hell of a drug."  This describes when our culture/society condemns and despises sexual predators but then excuses them and even promotes them to positions of power.  The invalidating message this implies to persons who have been victimized, reinforces our feelings of self blame, shame, guilt and dehumanization.  Our stories are discredited and devalued as we are accused of things that suggest we asked for it, should have known better, or are lying.
Of course, we are all expecting this to be that "watershed moment" that will result in change.  Discussions are being held on many levels as the news continues to cover developing events.  What is the solution and how can this problem be adequately addressed?
A newscast I recently heard recognized the power that other men can have when they address the behavior when they see/hear it.  Objecting to crude comments made "in the locker room" or in the boardroom might be met with resistance from the offender.  Men don't want to be seen as women and are expected to support such inappropriate behaviors.  They might speak up privately afterwards, but by then, the offender goes free.  The newscast emphasized how important it is for men to object to the behavior at the moment they witness it as it shifts the focus to the offender rather than remain on the victim.
Reflecting on the support I would have loved to have been given at age 12, to know that I was not to blame, to have the woman teacher confront the man about his inappropriate behavior and to have grown up in a family where I could have been able to confide in my parents without the fear of being punished would all have had positive outcomes rather than the years of shame and self blame I endured.
And just as a closing thought:  Mine was only a kiss.  Millions of women (and men) have suffered much worse.

Kathy Thome, LPC,  is passionate about using the therapeutic relationship to help you achieve your personal goals.
She is proficient in multiple approaches and will work with you to find that which is best suited to your needs. 
Kathy is skilled in working with many issues.  She has extensive experience helping individuals with depression, anxiety, grief, and the development of interpersonal skills that foster growth and esteem. 
Prior to her counseling career, Kathy was a high school teacher and a school counselor, which gives her a unique perspective and insight related to adolescents as well as parenting.  She worked with suicide prevention groups and also founded the first LGBTQ group (Gay Straight Alliance) at her high school.
Kathy is a state certified Licensed Professional Counselor, earning her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Western Illinois University.

In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, including those with four legs.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


Introducing our Wellness Wednesday feature.  On the first Wednesday of the month, we will post a tip to promote wellness.  Here is the first.

On my journey to becoming a professional counselor, I have learned a lot about myself as a person and a professional. One of the main things I have worked on throughout the last two and a half years is learning to trust myself, to believe that my voice is worth listening to.

In the past, I have struggled with meditation and guided imagery because it forces me to sit in silence with myself. Now that I have become more comfortable sitting with myself, I am beginning to enjoy it. Recently, Kaitlyn introduced me to a meditation called the "Wise Woman.” It has inspired me to more deeply explore what holds me back, and has been a great tool to help my clients who struggle with self-esteem, anxiety, lack of confidence, and negative self-talk.

A meditation like this can be used in many different ways. You can read it to yourself, out loud or in your head. You could have someone else read it to you (like a counselor or friend). You could even record yourself reading it and listen to it. The version I use is below, and you can feel free to adapt it however you would like. For instance, you can change the gender of the wise person so it aligns with you.

Begin by settling in your chair, finding a comfortable position that allows you to take deep, calming breaths. If you feel comfortable, close your eyes and focus on your breath. As you breathe, begin imagining a place in nature that you find peace. It can be a forest, a beach, a mountain trail, or any other place that you feel connected to.

Imagine yourself sitting in a room, looking down over this place of calmness and serenity. Take in everything. What do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear?

You decide to go outside, so you leave the room and find a path. As you begin to walk, continue to notice what your senses pick up on. Are there birds singing? Children laughing? Is there a breeze? What do your surroundings look like? Try to imagine them in as much detail as possible. The path widens and curves as you continue to follow it. Go slowly and take your time.

Up ahead, you notice a house. Something about the home beckons to you, and draws you in. What does the house look like? What makes it so appealing?

As you approach the house, a woman opens the door. It is as if she has been waiting for you all along, like she knew you would be coming. Somehow, you know she is a wise woman. What does she look like? How is she dressed? Try to picture her as clearly as you can. She smiles, and invites you in.

Inside her house, she shows you to a room, and you instantly feel at home. What does the room look like? What about it makes you so comfortable? Are there pictures on the walls? Comfy furniture? A fireplace? Maybe she offers you something to eat, or to drink. You sit down, and for a minute, there is simply comfortable silence.

While you are in her presence, you recognize how it makes you feel. You feel at peace, accepted, and loved for exactly who you are in this moment. Somehow, you know the wise woman cares for you unconditionally.

After some time, she says something to you. What does she say? You turn to her and respond. What do you say? You have a conversation for a while. What is said?

Eventually, you notice she has colors surrounding her. You had not noticed this before. What colors are there?

As you think about the colors, you notice the sun is setting. You say you are going and you thank each other for the time together.  You say goodbye. As you are leaving, the wise woman gives you something. What is it?

You walk back down the path and watch the colors of the sky. Take your time walking back, and notice what is different. Is it quieter? Does the path look different in the fading daylight?

You see the place you began, so you head towards it. You walk up the path.  When you are there, you will begin to come back to an awareness of this room. Feel your feet on the floor, and your body in the chair. When you are ready, open your eyes.

I will let you in on a little secret. The wise woman you met? She is you. You can call her up whenever you feel alone or in need of some wisdom in your life.

The color and the item she gave you are things that can remind you of the wise woman. When you see them in your daily life, they can serve as reminders that the wise woman is always inside of you, and available when you need her.

Nicki Phillips is a counseling intern at Esprit and a graduate student at UW Oshkosh working towards a degree in clinical mental health counseling. She brings a fresh perspective to her work along with a vibrant personality. She believes everyone is inherently worthy of respect and compassion, and strives to create those qualities in her relationships with clients. She sees clients who are uninsured, underinsured, have a high deductible, or prefer to pay out-of-pocket for a reduced cost. She particularly enjoys working with adolescents and young adults, and has also worked with children (ages 6 and up) and adults. She has immediate openings for new clients! Please schedule online at She can also be reached via email at or by phone at (920) 383-1287.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

“Just Get Over It”: When Your Grief is Not Supported

We all have experienced grief at one time or another. However, while most people associate it with death of a loved one, many other life changes or events can cause grief. Examples of events and transitions where grief typically occurs, but may not be acknowledged or socially supported, include: divorce, serious illness, physical impairment, moving, job loss or change, infidelity, abuse, natural disaster, traumatic events, infertility, pet loss, children growing up, loss of an expectation or dream, loss of a societally unsanctioned relationship, and aging.
Such “disenfranchised” (i.e., unacknowledged or unsupported) grief undermines our normal coping strategies. When grief is viewed as illegitimate, we fail to receive the support and empathy typically given after the death of a loved one. Instead, although we may know something is wrong, we (as well as family and friends) may ignore, dismiss, or play down our right to grieve. We may think (or be told to) “just get over it,” but reminders of loss -- such as missing favorite activities due to a disability or not being able to spend a holiday or birthday with family members due to divorce or a move -- can lead to chronic grief (Doka, 2016).
Grief experienced by children or teens may also be disenfranchised because adults often assume that children are less aware of and less affected by life events. Teens and children may hear, “You’re young, you’ll get over it” after losing a friend, experiencing peer rejection, or enduring a family move. Yet children and teens are acutely aware of and affected by life events and transitions involving themselves, family, or friends. These experiences can be traumatic as well, complicating symptoms of grief (Hooyman & Kramer, 2006).
When others minimize, fail to recognize, or dismiss our grief, we lose a crucial coping mechanism: social support. As a result, we may hide our grief, fearing social disapproval or be influenced to believe we have no right to grieve. Instead, we feel “something is wrong with me,” leading to shame, embarrassment, or a sense of failure. Messages such as “It’s time to move on,” “get over it,” or “it’s not that bad” further compound our suffering because they foster self-doubt, self-blame, resentment, feeling misunderstood, and disconnection. We end up confused by conflicting feelings that make it difficult to sort out our feelings (Doka, 2016).
I personally have experienced disenfranchised grief from various life events: surviving a cancer diagnosis after being given a 20% chance to live, the end of my first marriage, an empty nest (causing mixed feelings of pride for my children’s independence but also loss), death of a pet, moving, and career change all involved feelings of loss.
My own losses have made me realize the personal courage and self-awareness it takes to acknowledge continuing grief when the world thinks you should be “over it,” to reach out for support from others (including professional support), and to be self-compassionate (rather than denying one’s feelings). I have both witnessed and experienced the strength, wisdom, and beauty that can come from acknowledging and working through grief to establish a new normal.

When experiencing disenfranchised grief, have the courage to reach out and get the support you need. Counseling can be especially helpful when you are not getting or feel uncomfortable asking for support from friends, family, and loved ones. Additionally, counselors trained in grief work can provide specific grief interventions to help you process your grief, acknowledge your loss, and cope with what you are experiencing. Further, if you have or are experiencing trauma symptoms related to the grief event, counselors trained in trauma work, can help in identifying, validating, processing, and coping with these as well. In addition, counseling can help loved ones learn how to best support you, when experiencing disenfranchised grief. 

Kathy Glick specializes in working with clients coping with life transitions or challenging life events, including loss, trauma, and relationship issues, and is currently accepting new clients. Kathy has specialized training and certification for working with loss and grief including: loss of a loved one, divorce, relationship changes, empty nest, pet loss, job change, loss of safety or trust, retirement, moving, change in health status, aging, etc. 
Kathy has specialized trauma training, including EMDR, as well as specialized training in couples therapy. She attended training through the Beck Institute for CBT and uses evidence based therapies to help address anxiety, depression, self-esteem, relationship, and confidence issues. Having experienced several of her own losses, life changes, and challenging transitions, clients find Kathy to be both empathetic and insightful.
Kathy holds a Master of Science in Professional Counseling, a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration (providing her with a broader, practical perspective), certification from the National Board for Certified Counselors, and is licensed in the state of Wisconsin. Outside of work, Kathy loves spending time with family, friends, and her dog, Miguel. She enjoys traveling, yoga, walking, biking, cooking, and reading.