An Introduction to Sage Hill Counseling with Nick McCollum

This month we are focusing on grief resources for you or your loved ones who are in the fog of grief, and this post focuses on the benefits of individual or couples counseling for grief.

I was introduced to Sage Hill Counseling through many friends who have either gone to Sage Hill or who are counselors and have high regard for Sage Hill’s approach to grief counseling. From my own personal experience, I sought out Sage Hill when I felt the need to talk to someone and appreciated their matching process. Many times, when you seek out a counselor, you are limited to single person practices and then have to sink in a session or two to even find out if that counselor is a good fit for you. Sage Hill, on the other hand, does an intake call and then after getting a feel for your needs and personality, matches you with the counselor they think you would have the most success with. And, if that counselor isn’t a fit, they have others you can try or can recommend you to practices outside of Sage Hill if they don’t believe there is a good fit within their practice. It is such a breath of fresh air, trust me.

Below is my conversation with Nick McCollum who has been a counselor at Sage Hill for several years now and focuses on walking individuals and families through grief, among other aspects of life.

· How does Sage Hill meet people in their grief? When it comes specifically to grief counseling, our main focus is providing individual and couples counseling. We also offer group therapy as a helpful place to process grief and loss.

· When should you see an individual counselor vs a support group? An individual counselor is going to help guide you through the grieving process and customize therapy to your specific situation. A support group is best when you are looking for a community of people who are also on their own grief journey, and with whom you can share insights and experiences. Both are helpful and valuable, just different approaches.

· When do you recommend people start counseling or a grief support group? There’s not a bad time to get started. Typical timelines I see vary from 2 months after a loss up to a year and a half after. From my perspective and experience, sooner is better than later. More important than the when, however, is knowing that it’s ok to get help working through your grief, and it’s a completely normal thing to do. Grief is a normal part of life. It is a lonely process, and still we humans are not designed to go at it alone. We need other people with us in our seasons of grief.

· What are some signs that you need to talk to someone? Grief creates a cloud or haze such that things feel, sound, and look different. Things seem to move slower and that’s because something is off. Notice that and then get help. Start paying attention to your self and check in on certain things. In the immediate aftermath of a significant loss, you’re likely to be more tired than normal in the regular day-to-day of life. Exhausted even. So pay attention to your energy level. How are you sleeping – or not? How is your appetite? Are you exercising? Do you have motivation to go to work? Are you more emotional than normal or way less emotional? Ask the people who know you best about what are they noticing – Am I more irritable or disengaged or impatient, etc?

· What are some common misunderstandings about grief counseling? That it’s a linear or step by step process to healing. There is no easy program for this, no quick fix. Grieving is much more of a cyclical process that is at times unpredictable and quite disorienting. For people who have waited 18 months to 2 years (or longer) after their loss and think, “Why would I want to come in now? Talking about my loss will just open the wound again.” But when you actually take time to address the wound you allow healing to occur. You get to participate in the process as opposed to just letting it happen. Grief is going to keep working whether or not we engage it. When we participate with it actively, its not less painful, but it lets us be present to both our hurt and healing, and address it in a timely manner.

Such good words, Nick! Thank you for this insight.

Please share this with anyone who could use the nudge to get counseling for their grief. It is so good for the soul.

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