Counselors bring hope for the hurting

Exodus Counseling and Treatment Services’ Mark and Linda Walrath understand the struggles facing today’s world, whether they include pressures from a weakened economy, job loss and family struggles or eating disorders, addictions and depression.

Linda and Mark Walrath offer years of experience

Exodus Counseling and Treatment Services’ Mark and Linda Walrath understand the struggles facing today’s world, whether they include pressures from a weakened economy, job loss and family struggles or eating disorders, addictions and depression.

“Counseling is just a passion of ours,” Mark Walrath said. “One of the best things in life is to walk alongside people, build trust and help with healing and growth.”

That passion begins with their Sumner business’s name, derived from the biblical account of Moses leading the Israelites across a barren dessert, Linda Walrath said.

“Moses led the people out of the wilderness into the Promised Land,” she said. “It’s an analogy of helping those who struggle to gain freedom. We’re helping people come out of a wasteland.”

That help comes with a journey of experience: Mark holds two master’s degrees – one in divinity and the other in counseling psychology – along with 11 years’ work as a counselor and 20 years in working with youth. In addition, he served as director of Prosperity Counseling and Treatment Services for six years. Together with Linda, both are licensed chemical dependency professionals.

They each bring their own fortes into every appointment.

“My passion… started when I was working with eating disorders,” Linda Walrath said. Once anorexic, she now understands the problem’s underlying issues.

“I address the addictive components that accompany an eating disorder,” she said. “They can include obsessive-compulsive behavior, low self-esteem, ritualistic behavior, personal identity and fears.” The couple can also refer clients to outside help when necessary.

Mark Walrath sees three major areas of counseling. “Money, parents and communication,” he said. “Those tend to draw a lot of conflict.” Through counseling and therapy, he can offer hope and tools to help make relationships work and bring fulfillment, he said.

The center bills its services on a sliding fee scale and can also provide court-ordered assessments. And regardless of their clients’ needs, each visit focuses on one important factor: trust.

“My goal is to help them move past being here because of a court order, to where they want to be here,” she said.

The Walraths, married for 30 years and who also once participated in marital counseling, said that trying to handle problems without the right kind of help can lead to mixed emotions, defensiveness, odd behaviors and a false sense of identity.

“We have to pull the layers off, much like in peeling an onion,” Linda Walrath said.

Addressing a number of issues often means playing several roles, Mark Walrath said.

“Some people want a safe place where they can come in and talk about what they think,” he said. “Most people want to sort these things out so they can get unstuck, because they’re not feeling quite right. Sometimes, I’m a coach; other times, I’m a teacher or I have to confront them. It depends on what they need. Our whole purpose is to create healthy change.”

Such confidence carries rewards.

“I love watching those ‘a-ha!’ moments – they’re so rewarding,” Linda Walrath said. “They look back at the time spent here and can say, ‘I’m free. I’m not stuck in this wasteland and wilderness.’ I think that’s what keeps me going – watching them heal.”

“I consider it a privilege to walk alongside people,” Mark Walrath said. “Therapy is the goal. We will meet them where they are at.”

Exodus Counseling and Treatment Services is located next to Nicholson’s Pharmacy at 918 Alder Ave. in Sumner. Its e-mail address is exoduscounseling@comcast.net and its phone is 253-891-2662.

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