Flexible and rewarding are two words local mom, Lucy Murillo would use to describe her professional career as owner and therapist at Columbus Counseling, now celebrating its third year in business. Lucy took a leap of faith and opened her own practice at an unexpected time in her life when her daughter was only a year old. She went from working part-time at another private practice, to spend more time with her young daughter and 8-year-old son, to drawing up a business plan and becoming her own boss. Although hard at first, Lucy feels opening her own business was ultimately a great decision for her family, “In my field, you can make your own schedule. It’s definitely more flexible and that works to my family’s benefit.”
Lucy started the practice with herself as the only therapist and grew it one patient at a time until the continued demand for counseling services necessitated her expansion. She has since added four therapists and recently moved into a new space that is quadruple in size to better serve our community’s growing behavioral health needs. The practice caters to all different needs, with each therapist on staff certified in a different specialty. Clinicians focus on individuals, children, families or couples with specialized therapies for PTSD, group counseling and trauma-focused therapies. “The reason we wanted to expand was to add more clinicians, workshops, presentations and community support groups,” explains Lucy.
Lucy has hosted a teen peer-support group every week since opening her own practice in 2015. Every third Tuesday from 6-7pm Lucy opens her doors to local teens to discuss whatever is on their heart or mind. “It’s a free, open group. No name, no registration and I’m always there. If there’s 1 or 6, or 8, I’m there. No calls needed, just show up.”
When asked the most common struggle for kids today, Lucy swiftly responded, “bullying.” Bullying leads to depression, oftentimes resulting in self-mutilation and worst-case scenario, suicide. Bullying has no age limit; it just presents itself in different forms. Lucy said that a major catalyst for teen bullying is social media. Bullying doesn’t end when the school day ends, it continues 24/7 online, making it more difficult to manage and harder to cope.
Some red flags of a bullied child are:
- Faking illnesses to stay home from school
- Weight loss
- Lack of sleep
- Self-destructive behavior (running away, self-mutilation, loss of self-esteem)
- Declining grades
When asked for advice to help a child cope with bullying, the mom of two stressed the importance of having an open dialogue with your children and monitoring their online presence. “You need to have more time. Actually put your phones down and engage with one another. That’s when kids feel safe to open up and have a real discussion,” said Lucy. By always inviting open communication, your child can build a relationship of trust with you and feel safe to come to you for help. Parents must also remember any sort of technology: a phone, tablet, etc. is a reward. Monitoring your child’s activity on social media isn’t an invasion of privacy because these capabilities are a privilege. By monitoring their social media, you’re gaining an inside look at their friends and acquaintances, allowing for a more informed assessment and a more in-tune conversation with your child.
If you or a family member could use some help or guidance, you can reach Lucy or one of her Columbus Counseling colleagues at 706-327-1222.