Getting to Know the Counselors of Quandary
Maggie and I (Jeremy) are so grateful for the incredibly talented, compassionate, professional people that have chosen to be a part of what we are trying to do, offer and be at Quandary Counseling. Each person is unique in their own stories, their professional training and education and in their passion for people, healing and mental health. We decided to focus in on each counselor so you, our followers, can get to know them better. If you or anyone you know would benefit from sitting with a counselor for any reason at all, please contact us and let us help connect you with the right one. You might just be worth it!
Melissa Bode, M.A. Licensed Mental Health Counselor
How/when did you feel the calling into counseling as a profession? How has your own story impacted your ending up being a counselor?
I grew up in Texas where the school system is nationally ranked academically & I always felt pressure to succeed, but I didn’t enjoy any of the subjects that were taught in high school. I didn’t feel smart or “good enough” because I saw my friends and peers grasp the material so easily. I felt lazy because I didn’t have any motivation to apply myself in school and why would I? I didn’t enjoy it. Luckily I had soccer & that motivated me to study because “if you don’t pass, you don’t play.”
When I was a junior year in high school I took my first psychology class. I was never strong academically and it was the first time the material “clicked” with me. Psychology introduced me to the feeling of wanting to excel academically, as opposed to just wanting to “scrape by” and graduate. It was enthralling to learn that everything about who we are today is intertwined with our past experiences and how differently those experiences impact each individual. Learning how different circumstances such as trauma, environment, our upbringing, socioeconomic status, genetics, education, support systems, friends, etc. could make such a huge psychological impact on someone’s decision-making fascinated me. I didn’t know how I wanted to incorporate the field of psychology into my life professionally, but I had enough interest to continue exploring that path. I went on to play soccer at the collegiate level for 4 years and graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Kinesiology with honors.
What is the place who is the client you find yourself most “in the zone” in counseling work? What is your sweet spot when working with clients?
I thoroughly enjoy working with individuals, though I’m most in the zone when working with adolescents, teenagers, and/or families. More specifically, families that have a child (or children) with oppositional or conduct disorders. I love working with parents and other primary caregivers to regain control in the household by creating & implementing structure. I enjoy getting all family member’s individual perspectives of the situation in order to further help the family function more smoothly.
My “sweet spot” when working with clients is helping them learn to identify, define, & communicate their feelings to use with their partner, friends, and/or family members. Feeling misunderstood or not heard can be extremely frustrating and lonely. Frankly, it isn’t a good feeling. Effective communication is essential for all healthy relationships. I particularly enjoy helping my clients learn to identify their personal needs, express those needs, setting boundaries, & problem-solving.
What models of therapy do you most draw from and why?
I draw from the evidenced-based models Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Multisystemic Therapy (MST), and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) most. I draw different strategies from these models and adapt them to the individual’s, couple’s, or family’s needs to help them get the most out of their counseling experience. Drawing from multiple models allows me to better individualize techniques for clients.
I use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to aid clients with gaining awareness of their inner worlds by helping them identify how their thoughts and behaviors may be related and how to cope with & reframe their thoughts to alleviate distress. Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is a model I use when working with families with a defiant or noncompliant adolescent or teenager to create systemic change in the home, school, and community. As we see our child’s behaviors are escalating and we are losing more and more control, strategies in the MST model helps parents and primary caregivers regain control by implementing structure in the home and aligning natural supports in the school and community to maintain the structure.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a model I use to help clients with distress tolerance, emotional regulation, setting & maintaining boundaries, assertiveness skills, and more.
Whats something your clients would never believe about you, but its ok for you to share?
I am bubbly, talkative, and outgoing and look like “an extrovert” to many others, but I get a lot of my joy from quality time with myself— I like to sew, color, paint, draw, try new crafts, decorate, and go to garage & estate sales. Crafting allows me to create a safe environment where I go daily to unwind & check-in with myself. I also love to play darts and cards!
Music, Film/Show, Book that means a lot to you and why?
I love the movie Freedom Writers and it was the first movie that really resonated with me. Hilary Swank (the teacher) was a first year teacher at an underprivileged high school. Students were fighting, affiliated with gangs, were bringing weapons to school, causing disruptions in the classroom, not following instructions, and skipping school. Swank took the time to listen to each of her student’s life experiences and how those experiences molded their perceptions of the world. When Swank gained an understanding about her students, she was able to adapt her teaching strategies to motivate her students to come to school, learn the class content, and learn empathy for their peers. Swank challenged her students, pulled on their strengths, and showed them compassion.
These same principles are also important in couple’s counseling & family therapy. Listening to and learning about one’s perspective and how it impacts one’s decision-making and lifestyle choices can create emotional safety, empathy, patience, and compassion within your relationship.