Karen Tibbals uses her background in market research and Quaker religious studies to help people understand how others–on opposing political sides and with different ethical frameworks–make decisions. This work, like the graphic image above, draws groups with differing opinions into relationship (pink and blue become purple!) Her book can help liberals and conservatives identify the truths they share, and it explains the success of modern societal accomplishments like gay marriage and outlines why guns feel safe to conservatives and scary to liberals. Here we interview her about who she is, and how she came to publish the very helpful books she writes.
Friends Counseling Service
We live in a fast-paced world, with a constant stream of input from email, news, texts, and social media. Whether we are working from home or are in retirement, we are bombarded with so much stimulation that the still small voice inside is easily crowded out, and we lose our grounding.
Mindfulness meditation is a spiritual practice that has its origin in the teachings of the Buddha and has been described as “learning to become aware, in the moment, of exactly what is happening, without judgement.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn) As we learn to quiet the mind by centering our awareness on the body or the breath, we begin to slow down, the mind becomes quieter, and we become more receptive to the voice of the Spirit. [Read more…] about How Can the Practice of Mindfulness Benefit Friends?
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting is excited to announce the new Friends Counseling Service (FCS) Coordinator, Janaki Spickard Keeler. FCS brings forward a spiritually sensitive, clinical expertise to care for the mental health and wellness of individuals in the wider Quaker community.
The FCS Coordinator interacts with local Quaker communities, supports present counselors, recruits new counselors, helps promote the service, and attends events throughout the yearly meeting to speak on matters related to mental health and wellness.
This is a check-in to see how you and your meeting are doing in these unique times. The physical distancing required by the Covid-19 pandemic has created unexpected opportunities for discerning how to feel connected when physical contact is not possible. Some meetings are also struggling with how to complete their Spiritual State of the Meeting Report given the challenges of Covid-19. We offer some guidance here. [Read more…] about Ministry & Care Letter to Our Meetings
Winden Rowe, MS, NCC, LPC maintains a private practice in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania where she works with individuals, couples, families, and organizations. Her education, clinical experience, and passionate interest center around the study of and work in the field of stress and trauma. Ms Rowe’s approach to securing sustained improvement and recovery for clients dealing with the effects of stress and trauma, centers around linking the biological, psychological, and social implications of traumatic stress and the identified challenge. In addition to counseling, Winden lectures, teaches, and consults in the field. Ms. Rowe has been a guest on a variety of media broadcasts including National Public Radio ‘Morning Edition’, ‘Radio Times’ and lectures at Jefferson University in the Community and Trauma Counseling Graduate Program. She works with children, teens, and adults. And loves her work.
Anyone in need of information about the Friends Counseling Service or in need of a referral please call
Ken Brick, LCSW, Program Coordinator in his Wilmington DE Office 302-655-8101
We are excited to report that the Quaker Life Council approved investing nearly forty thousand dollars over two fiscal years to raise up a momentous new program called Resource Friends. Resource Friends help our community be healthy and thrive, by providing expert support in areas of need in our monthly meetings and on the yearly meeting level. They are the Friends who have a diverse variety of gifts and tremendous knowledge base from which the community may benefit. [Read more…] about Introducing Resource Friends!
Figuring out how, when, whether and from whom to get therapy can be a daunting question. There are more options than ever. One can be virtually bowled over by the different degrees, orientations, and backgrounds of available therapists. The need and decision to engage psychiatry and consider pharmacology can be equally challenging. The cost of therapy itself can feel out of reach for many of us in today’s tough economic times. So, what to do if one determines it might be time for professional intervention with our struggles? For those of us who are members or attenders within Philadelphia Yearly Meeting where to begin can actually be quite easy.
The Friends Counseling Service is currently a stalwart crew of 13 highly trained, licensed and, most importantly, very experienced, therapists – each in private practice somewhere in our geographic PYM region. Better yet – these are not only well trained therapists but all are “Friends” grounded in Quaker spirit and culture. A simple phone call to The Service is entirely confidential and costs nothing. This is a tremendous resource for individuals, couples, families and youth in our Community. To call the Service one does not necessarily need be ready for therapy but may call with any associated questions.
Friends Counseling Service is well known in some Quaker Quarters but as new members and attenders come into our midst there are many who are yet unaware of this facile resource. For nearly 70 years The Service has been staffed with professional therapists committed to providing quality and confidential therapy at reasonable rates. As the Service is committed to turning away no one within our Community – significant subsidies have been raised to assist those who qualify. It is impressive that both funding groups as well as Meetings amongst us have continually contributed to this Service keeping it solvent even in tough economic times.
All therapists licensed by the Friends Counseling Service are affiliated with psychiatry and can help access resources for medical (psychiatric) assessment if indicated. Anyone with any questions about the Service or interested in investigating therapy for themselves or a loved one may call the Service Coordinator for a confidential inquiry.
Anxiety… that feeling that twists the stomach sends the heart racing and interferes with our sleep.
Anxiety is a natural response to external events or internal thoughts that seem to present a threat to our safety or way of life. It afflicts people of all ages and in all segments of society.
For some, the feelings arise and subside with time, but for others, the symptoms do not disappear. Some people live in a chronic state of anxious arousal.
It is now well known that long-term heightened anxiety can cause a number of physical problems including high blood pressure, heart problems and chronic gastro-intestinal difficulties.
The psychological effects of long-term chronic stress may include obsessive thoughts, sleepless nights, insomnia, panic attacks. Chronic daily stress can lead to difficulties handling the demands of everyday life. Needless to say, this is not a good thing for the body or the soul.
And yet, life is full of habitual and unexpected events and intrusive or obsessive thoughts that make stress management very difficult. What to do?
Research shows that there are some good home-grown remedies for managing anxiety. We can start by reducing our susceptibility to stress. Start by eliminating or reducing caffeine intake in all forms, soda, coffee, black tea. A regime of regular vigorous exercise is also very helpful for managing stress. On the less rigorous side, a relaxing warm bath, a long chat with a good and caring friend, a full-body massage or even a cup of warm milk before bed are old but useful short term stress reducers.
Unfortunately, some people seek relief through use of substances (legal and illegal), addictive behaviors (internet addiction, eating disorders, gambling, shopping, etc.) or excessive alcohol use. While these measures may seem to help in the short term, they can all lead to significant health and emotional problems further down the road.
If anxiety persists, it may be time to seek professional help. Anxiety is the most treatable of problems.
In psychotherapy the person and therapist explore the causes of the anxiety and together design a program to help alleviate the cause and the symptoms. Often this approach involves increasing one’s confidence to adequately cope with anxiety producing circumstances.
The treatment may also include a consultation with a psychiatrist to discuss the appropriateness of medication. It may also be recommended that family or group therapy be considered or attendance in a 12-step self-help support group. Successful alternative therapies for anxiety include mindfulness meditation and yoga.
We are a big urban meeting. A lot of life sloshes in through the doors which we constantly try to keep open: interested neighbors, curious passers-by, parents whose children are students at Germantown Friends School and other seekers.
Most of the time people are cheerful, hard-working, and securely grounded in their spirituality and faith.
We do, however, always have a few members or attenders who are struggling with difficult issues, whether they are internally raging emotional storms or external behavioral challenges. And from time to time some truly troubled neighbor will also walk in the door and come to stay.
Our Care and Visiting Committee tries to take them all under its wing. Many troubled souls can be comforted and encouraged simply with some loving outreach: a Friendly visit, an invitation to go for a walk together, a shared cup of tea or a meal.
But from time to time we are confronted with someone whose soul is being eaten away by troubles beyond our capacity, however lovingly intended. Or we are challenged by a Friend whose mental illness prevents him or her from participating productively in the life of the meeting.
For some Friends internal anxieties stand in the way of their being fully present to the gathered group. Or, a Friend’s rage boils over into worship or other meeting activities creating confusion and disruption. And, then there are Friends who find the disruptive behavior intolerable and even at times unsafe and who may struggle against a strong desire to withdraw from meeting. For these reasons, unattended mental illness can tear at the fabric of love and trust within a meeting community.
Persons with behavioral differences are hard to understand and connecting with them is often difficult. At times, their behavior can be quite disturbing and even frightening to Friends at meeting. The visitors on our Care & Visiting committee are warm, loving, generous men and women who give and give and give—but serious mental illness requires more.
First, it requires Care & Visiting members to acknowledge the limitations of their ability to respond knowledgeably to the behavioral challenges presented by some members of the community. This is an important step to take. But it is hard to do because of our belief in the healing power of a loving and supportive community. Second, it requires creating unity among meeting members that something more needs to be done; the meeting needs to reach beyond itself for support and guidance on an issue which is affecting its functioning. In such cases, we have come to realize that it is important to help Friends find professional care as soon as possible.
Friends Counseling Service has been a wonderful resource: there is scrupulous care for confidentiality, access is easy, and charges are reasonable. At Germantown Friends Meeting, we’ve set aside a fund to help pay the costs for Friends who cannot afford to pay the full counseling fee from their own resources. This seems to us as important as providing scholarship support for growing children: mentally healthy adults are as vital as well-educated children for the health of our meeting.
In instances, where we have searched for unity to bring a troubled Friend back into the meeting community to restore feelings of safety and trust, we have invited the PYM Care & Aging Coordinator to meet with us. Working with the PYM Care & Aging Coordinator and utilizing the PYM Friends Counseling Service has helped us understand the limitations of what we on Care & Visiting can do while simultaneously providing much needed real help to our troubled Friends.
While these Yearly Meeting services help serve our most troubled members and attenders, they also expand our capacity to minister to all Friends in ways which are knowledgeable and caring and which enhance the life of the meeting. We’ve learned that it’s important to turn to professionals before problems harden and behavior —and response—becomes habituated.
On one occasion, we invited the PYM Care & Aging Coordinator to meet with both Care and Visiting and Worship and Ministry to think through how best to respond to a very angry Friend who was disrupting meeting for worship. On another occasion we asked him to meet quietly with a group of concerned Friends about one silently miserable and very scared Friend who had simply stopped coming to meeting.
In neither case was there an immediate solution. But, in both cases the support and professional explanation of our Friend’s condition helped us think through a loving and united response. These responses, combined with reaching out to our suffering Friend with offers of care and support, helped to maintain unity among us and to provide competent and spiritually grounded professional counseling to our members.
Florence Mini is the Clerk of the Care & Visiting Committee of Germantown Friends Meeting.
“Let us then try what love can do”, this much treasured quotation from William Penn,has provided guidance for Friends for 350 years, urging us to welcome all who come through the Meeting House door and to walk with them in times of trouble and times of joy.
The different ways that trouble can visit are endless and frequently need a number of different resources to help bring relief. All of us, at times, face situations that challenge or even overwhelm us, the death of a loved one, chronic illness, disabling depression, anxiety, or loss of a job.
As a non-pastoral congregation we sometimes struggle to discern the best way to help our fellow Friends, love is not always enough. This is why, in the 1970’s, Lovett Dewees founded the Friends Counseling Service (FCS), a service run by mental health Professionals who are also Friends, to work with members and attenders of Friends’ Meetings to help alleviate some of their suffering.
There are times when the FCS has received a call from Care and Visiting Committee of a meeting struggling to find the best and most compassionate way to help a member of their community. Their best efforts have not resolved the situation in a satisfactory manner.
Several years ago, there was a call from a monthly meeting who had been financially supporting a family for many years and had realized that they no longer had the resources to continue. This was a situation where the meeting, working from the basis of loving kindness, had actually not been helpful to the family, cultivating, instead of self-reliance, a climate of dependency. Sometimes, discerning the wise path is not simple and the input of an outside eye can be helpful. FCS Counselors can help the meeting look at all angles of a problem and support the meeting in finding a resolution.
As the coordinator of the FCS for the last 15 years, the service has received many calls from meeting members seeking counseling for themselves or their family. A mother called, worried about her daughter who was becoming increasingly withdrawn at home and having some social problems at school, a young couple, struggling to balance the demands of work, children and tight finances were experiencing tension in their marriage, a man wanted to discuss a possible career change, an older couple needed help to renegotiate their relationship following retirement.
These are just a few examples of the issues brought to the counseling service. Usually, the caller is referred to a FCS therapist who is fairly close geographically either to the Friend’s work or home and who has some expertise in the area with which they need help. Among the specialties offered by our therapists are couple and family therapy, addiction counseling, individual therapy for depression, anxiety or trauma, specialized counseling for children and adolescents, hypnotherapy, and training in mindfulness meditation.
The Counselors in the FCS are all active members of PYM who are also licensed mental health professionals. They are widely distributed through the greater Philadelphia area with practitioners as far apart as Wilmington, Bensalem, and Lancaster as well as others closer to the City. The fee is set at a rate that each person can afford, based on their income. Some therapists can take insurance. The clients’ anonymity is protected by the therapists and all services are strictly confidential.
Many of our clients appreciate that when they come to one of our counselors, they know that there will be a shared spiritual as well as cultural understanding. If the client wishes, there may be a short period of silence at the beginning or end of a session, some clients may ask to share a prayer while others may want to explore their belief or lack of belief with a sympathetic and open ear.
Deborah Cooper, a member of Germantown Friends Meeting, has been the Coordinator of the Friends Counseling Service since 1997.