Kristin Hughes, MSW, LCSW, RPT-S

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker offering Individual and Family Therapy to Children, Adolescents, and Adults.    


Experience:

Early in my career, from 1999 to 2004 I resided in Missouri; I primarily worked as a case manager for adults having a chronic mental Illness.  I completed my master level internship within the same agency although I shifted my case management role from adults to youth that had a serious emotional disorder. This opportunity expanded my mental health experience to include a range of people across the lifespan from children to adults with a variety of mental disorders. I continue to love working with a range of individuals.


After moving from Missouri to Indiana, from 2004 to 2007, I worked as a therapist, largely with youth that had a serious emotional disorder and with their families, at a Community Mental Health Center.  In 2007, I transferred to another Community Mental Health Center and began working in a school setting, performing the role of a school counselor in an elementary school.  This experience provided me the opportunity to gain specialized training in play, art, and sand therapy techniques.  I continue to love learning new methods that promote holistic health.


In 2008, I began working full time independently in an outpatient setting, providing therapy services to people across the lifespan.  I held a contract with the Johnson County Detention Center (2010-2013), providing a variety of therapeutic services within the center and was instrumental in improving awareness of mental health issues in Juvenile offenders. I was on the Board of Directors for Youth Connections (2009-2012) and served on the Program Committee, as well as, I have been recognized as an engaging public speaker, presenting workshops in the community and for agencies. 


I am a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor (RPT-S) and a certified trainer and supervisor in Adlerian Play Therapy. Having specialized training and supervision with Dr. Terry Kottman, whom developed Adlerian play therapy. An approach to counseling that combines the ideas and techniques of Individual Psychology and Play Therapy.  


I have been the Mental health lead for the Johnson County Critical Incident Stress Management Team since 2015 and obtained specialized International Certification in Crisis Intervention. 


Crisis services are provided to assist emergency workers (Johnson and Morgan County) and consists of members from the Police, Sheriff, Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary Members, Clergy, and Professional Counselors.


I am passionate, creative and understand the importance of accepting and valuing everyone’s individuality. I have been trained in several treatment modalities but use an integrative approach; believing that treatment that is unique to the person will be most effective.

 




& Here is a lot more about me as a therapist.


My first counseling question, Why are you here seeking therapy?, is answered with ease by people quickly listing all their conditions, hardships and obstacles. Equally important for me to know and often my second question, what are your assets? I want to know what are you doing to survive all this nonsense? I don’t need you down playing your strengths; life is hard enough on its own. I get it, now.. what are you fighting it with? It’s a tough question and as you might be trying to find a therapist, I want you to know about one of my strengths.  I don’t fit nicely in a stereotype box and no wonder I challenge it with every breath.  I recently was introduced to the book, Daring Greatly, written by Brene Brown and it has given me some language to identify and express what people have always said about me. I didn’t know that one word could capture my essence.


I am Wholehearted.


The breakdown of that is less dramatic and more complex because living a wholehearted life has some conditions and yet, finally after searching for a word that captures the sparkle, I can explain and even teach it! I didn’t know because I had been developing into this warmhearted person for years. Some of the conditions were natural for me and some were cultivated by learning to love myself. It is the eccentric person that I always admire. They simply care more what they believe about themselves than what others believe about them. Reading Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 10th grade was my first hint, “To be great is to be misunderstood”.  I recognized early that following the norm was not the way I wanted to live my life and I wanted to find a path that was true for me.


The first condition took a while to develop. I had to test a few things and learn to be confident with those decisions. The end result was simply being, Authentic.  I saw the greater reward in my connections.  I stopped pretending and started becoming. My favorite compliment to date came when I was doing my internship at Community Mental Health Center’s to get my Bachelor of Social Work degree. I was facilitating a group at the Clubhouse, a day center for individuals with Chronic Mental Illness. I asked members in a group to share strengths about each other and a lady whom rarely interacted told me that I was “Real”. It was simple, unique, and it was important because it meant I had connected to her, she trusted me. She had been watching quietly in the corner for weeks to determine if I was consistent and genuine in my caring for others. She gave me a real answer, with some depth, and I took that value with me. I understood that I was entering into relationships and I should try and empathize with what I was asking of them. They were watching my actions as well as my words. All people do.


Before I started seeing adolescents at the Juvenile Detention Center I insisted on being locked up. Granted I had some control, I knew I would get out.  I wanted to feel what it would be like behind the doors, sitting along the cold block wall, without shoes, wanting something, and unsure what or how to get it, waiting for someone to check on me. Waiting. Not that I need to endure every hardship I counsel, but acknowledging the common thread of emotion that kids might feel being detained helps.  Getting in touch with my delinquent side doesn’t make me a delinquent, it just helps me understand their stories… I get it.


It’s too easy to make what other people think the measure of our value. But this can lead us to very unauthentic behavior, from copying fashions to going along with others even when they are wrong. I embrace individuality openly. The result of that is I carry a freedom to be myself. I am constantly looking for options and challenging norms. I’m a weirdo, a freak, eccentric, I drive a fast moped named Flame, and dress with some range… if the occasion permits. I’m not attached to one style. It gives me the freedom to believe that I am more than what it appears at any given time. That means both I can dress eccentrically maybe a purple beehive hairdoo or boring mainstream brown and down if I’m showing up for a crisis intervention with the Police Department.  Purple beehive hair is distracting and I don’t need it to know I’m unique and my best self-shows up with the intention to help them. This giving myself permission to be me, my true authentic self thus in turn gives you permission. .. that totally also means, dress comfortably for counseling.


Wholehearted people use Self –Compassion because nothing and no one is perfect. Constantly striving for perfection can lead us in to punishing and self-destructive behaviors. Maintaining a perfect life is not realistic and being critical for not meeting that standard is harmful. Challenging that voice in your head can sometimes be difficult. Consider for a moment the devil on one shoulder, angel on the other senerario. We are often taught that talking back to the devil image or flicking him off your shoulder. “Go away, Go away, Go away” tactics work when he is yelling. Sometimes they do, temporarily. And I consider the “bad boy” adolescent sitting in the detention center crying alone in his room because his feelings are hurt about a misunderstanding with staff. He missed his phone call to his mom and no one ever dealt with the actual misunderstanding, only his behavior of yelling was managed. If he was my “devil” and I just heard his yelling and threats, wouldn’t I also miss his hurt feelings? I use self-compassion to recognize those feelings, as well as when I embrace the things I’m not good at doing. I don’t have to be everything to be someone.. and I surely don’t need to be perfect.


The Juvenile Delinquent devil on my shoulder was tired of being ignored and flicked. She says some nasty things that may hurt my feelings but underneath it all she is insecure and wants to be liked. I don’t want to punish her anymore. By having compassion for myself I recognize that I want to be my own best friend. That starts by being nice.  Everyone has insecurities, inadequacies, struggles. Sharing common feelings is what connects us.


Having a Resilient Spirit is not about bouncing back, It’s about our responses to a problem or rather simply not reacting until there is a problem… a true problem. Until then we should just chill.  Rest up, planning, and preparing for it doesn’t prove to help it just wears us down. We shouldn’t however, ignore the problem but the influence is a simple belief that IF, something bad happens I will figure it out. I’m smart,I’ve met people, .. good ol’ George Carlin said, “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”  A resilient spirit provided me and my family the courage to buy, reside and drive our 45 foot boat without any experience on a nine month adventure around Florida with the thought, have you met people with boats? We can figure it out.


*I also wanted to mention my gift for taking what sounds like a serious topic and turning it  into insightful jibberish. Would you have thought that I could make Resilient spirit about stupid people and bonus points for throwing in some GC (just saying).


I am Grateful and reek of Joy –To be wholehearted we need to spend time being grateful for what we have and feeling the joy that comes from just having enough and not needing more.  I have been happily married for more than 20 years and I have two amazing children that have always loved me for me. Numerous times I’ve been told by people that my encouragement saved their life. It’s a pretty intense compliment; I was never physically in the room, just in their hearts. Their lives matter. I’m grateful they made it past that moment and trusted me.  I meant it when I said they were worthy of life and happiness… I mean it.


I have faith that things will work out, and trust my intuition to guide me.  It will be okay. I don’t know what that specifically means. It often looks different from what I first desire, I sometimes throw a fit about why it didn’t go my way before I suck it up and learn from lesson also realizing that not ever lesson is about me, sometimes I’m along for the ride. It’s the best I can do for now. Trusting my intuition as a therapist helps me know how far to push topics with sensitivity while recognizing the difference with avoidance.  It helps me understand the truth, despite lies being told.  It’s the tools that can help us cope and navigate our way through uncertain times in our lives. Not every choice or decision we make will be correct. We can cultivate a life that freely lets go of things that we can’t control and embraces faith and belief in the strength of oneself. This is an important part of wholehearted living.


I don’t want you to be scared by the word, Creative or think that I’m an amazing artist, it’s not about that. The thing is I am creative and I do art, I dress, I decorate, I take pictures, I craft. And, being an “Artist” is my quick explanation for behaving strange. Taking pictures at the Bargersville Outdoor Flea Market is a good example. I understand, that it might seem strange of me to take pictures of strangers, I get that and yet if I say,” I’m an Artist”, that seems to explain things usually. What I should explain instead is, I’m being mindful while I’m taking pictures. I’m walking around, looking through treasures, also being aware of moments I find interesting in people, their faces, and their reactions. My camera aim isn’t perfect, I usually miss the shot I’m after .. it doesn’t matter. I’m onto the next…  My art isn’t about the end project; it’s about trying to capture a moment, express a feeling or thought that doesn’t have words. So far, I haven’t done anything with these pictures, I’m open to future projects and will have the photos when needed.


My office is overwhelming. My standard for hanging things from the ceiling is 5’2. I paint on the walls randomly and glitter is thrown on the floor as needed. The amount of things around you is layered with things we use to create worlds, prompt discussions and challenge behaviors. Like a messy room, it is comforting to some; they don’t seem to notice the lights above. Talking about problems don’t fill up an empty room, it just disappears in the clutter. It’s safe, away from crowds and the couch is soft and it’s not perfect (for sure).. it’s not supposed to be. It gives us freedom to not be perfect. Letting go of comparisons is a powerful way the wholehearted become more creative. .. it’s organized though .. it’s just a lot.Expressing the thought or emotion and simply releasing it alone carries therapeutic value. To further add, I have specialized training in art and play therapy techniques that can be utilized to further understand the expression and gain awareness. The space provides the opportunity to practice learned skills and creates moments to be learn from.


It’s important that my space offer both a place to, Rest and Play. Taking in a breath, reflecting on life, learning how to let go, and move forward are serious goals. Incorporating rest, acknowledgement, and celebration is important. Utilizing Laughter, Song and Dance in the therapy process in times of celebration or when you just need to lighten up, dance it out and have fun. The play therapy techniques I learned from becoming a Certified Adlerian Play Therapist can totally be done without being a playful person.  I am playful. I don’t turn it off and on only when I’m with kids, I turn it off and on as it is appropriate. Life provides the challenges the healing process doesn’t always have to be sooooooo deep


The use of play is powerful and not just for kids. For example, my playful spirit makes it easy to re-create an outburst that occurred with a much more dramatic acting tone. I  bolt out a few playful yells first to re-capture the scene, making it easier to clarify the story. While it is playful, we are talking about a serious situation, identifying what was realistically occurring at the time of the fight helps us gain insight and awareness. While that might be a technique, it’s the delivery system. Now, I can go on and on and on about Play therapy techniques, in which I understand this article is about me sharing my strengths. But I need to be done with this already. Almost  there, I promise. Take a break if needed, this is a lot.


Calmness and Stillness, So Breathe. How easy do you find it to just do nothing?  I’m great at it! I take the back roads a lot more days. Life is anxious enough and I have found that I can jump on the interstate if I need to get there faster but I practice slowing down. Today, on the way to yoga I saw a red fox on the side of the road, I totally would have missed it had I not been paying attention. Yoga, breathing, nature, it took me a while to make time for this value. It’s a choice. I’ll repeat that, it’s a choice. I could never quite find the time to be still until recently. I was too busy shaking things up.  I’m getting older and wiser and still fully embrace those still shaking.


This is it, my purpose. I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker trained in a variety of techniques. Providing therapy is my, Meaningful Work.  I’ve always known my purpose,I just couldn’t explain why I’m different. My heart has gotten bigger since I found out this information. I feel like I understand what “unique”, “wild”, “crazy” meant. I thought I was simply an admired weirdo until I found this word, “Wholehearted.”  That sounds so much better, don’t you think?


You might not understand the process, you might not understand me, and still know that being open to the experience is the sort of person I see in therapy.  That’s all it takes, someone willing to be real and open to feeling improvements in your life. Although, I might not be the person you are looking for, I understand that, I’m not for everyone. I decided to stop trying to be for everyone and start being for myself.  I know I got people out there open to the experience of hanging out in an amazing creative art space, listening to the chirping birds, having faith that they can be happier and trust that being creative, dancing, having fun and resting while being your own best friend.. Chilling and just Being..  Until something happens sort of people are out there.


I am a wholehearted person that got a whole lot of information in therapy.. or maybe a whole lot of information in therapy made me a wholehearted person.. I don’t know. I’m also told I’m a “Rockstar,”.. but really, being wholehearted is enough for now.  As you might be searching for mental health services, I am a little different than what you might expect, and that’s okay, I think it’s better.