Individuals enter therapy for a variety of reasons. Those who engage in talk therapy and commit to seeing it through bring about personal emotional growth and a more satisfying life. We recently had the chance to speak with Stacy Stinchcomb of Agape Counseling Services, LLC to learn more about not only herself but also her business and how beneficial it can be.
Tell us about your company and what you do?
Agape Counseling Services, LLC is the private practice of Stacy A. Stinchcomb, LCSW-C. Stacy received her Master of Social Work from the University of Oklahoma in 1999. Boomer Sooner! She enjoys being a small business owner as well as a mental health professional. She has worked in the inpatient, residential, and private practice settings and has enjoyed every opportunity to grow and increase her knowledge base.
Stacy highly values marriage and the family and wants to help couples work through marriage issues and see them grow in their ability to communicate and resolve the conflicts that are bound to happen in marriage. Stacy also works with clients who are struggling with a variety of issues including infertility, grief, and adjustment issues, depression and anxiety, spiritual and faith issues, domestic violence, and trauma.
Stacy considers it a privilege to partner with her clients in helping them to become overcomers in all of life’s circumstances. She would characterize her practice as “clinical counseling with a biblical perspective”.
How did you get started in your industry?
Stacy lost both of her parents by the time she was 21 years old and sought grief counseling at the age of 22 to help her cope with these losses. She also attended a grief group at her church and was helped tremendously through both experiences. The leader of her grief group then asked her to be a co-leader of the next one saying that she saw Stacy had a gift for empathizing with the hurts of others. That leader became a dear friend and mentor to Stacy and encouraged her to consider a career in the counseling field. Stacy loved her work with the group and continued to be a co-leader and also began her college education at the age of 27. She felt she had found not only her career path but her purpose and calling for her life.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
Stacy has been so privileged to be able to work part-time since her daughter began kindergarten in 2013. She continues to work 3 days a week during school hours only so that she can be available to her daughter and maintain a good work/family balance. In five years, she hopes to be maintaining her same work/family life balance so that she can enjoy her daughter’s senior year of high school. Yikes!
What is something about your business that most people do not know?
The work of counseling others can be draining as well and so a 40-hour work week would be difficult to maintain. In this work, you are only paid for the actual time you spend face to face with a client, not for the hours you spend each week completing progress notes, assessments, treatment plans, keeping up with new literature on best treatment practices, attending training, returning phone calls and following up with insurance companies and maintaining your billing. However, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love being in private practice!
Other than work, what are you passionate about?
I hinted earlier about this one, but I am passionate about college football and am a huge Oklahoma Sooners fan, along with my entire family. I was born and raised in Oklahoma and moved to Maryland in 1999 when I got married. I am passionate about my family and spending quality time with my husband and 12-year-old daughter. I love boating and feel most relaxed anytime I am out on the water. I am also a Christian and am passionate about my faith and Bible study.
What types of activities or hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?
Boating, reading, coloring in the grown-up coloring books (it is a great stress reliever), going out to dinner and movies with my family, date nights, and spending time with extended family and friends.
What is your favorite place to eat in Annapolis? Favorite dish there?
For a fine dining experience, I love Lewnes Steakhouse. It is a wonderful atmosphere. A perfect place for an Anniversary dinner. The filet is my absolute favorite! For casual dining, our whole family loves Chevy’s Fresh Mex. I could eat Mexican food every day of the week. Their enchiladas and flautas are a fave but you could make a meal of their chips and salsa.
Why did you choose My Annapolis Office and how has working here helped your business?
I was so impressed when I first toured My Annapolis Office with all the amenities, décor, and nice waiting area. I loved that my clients could help themselves to coffee/tea/water when they arrived. As a small business owner, who wasn’t looking to hire employees, it has been a perfect fit for me. To know that my clients see a smiling face at the front desk when they arrive and have a nice place to wait took a load off my mind. I also loved that I could set up my office however I wanted to for my purposes. My clients love my office and describe it as a relaxing and safe place.
Some ideas for coping with Covid-19 and quarantine.
First, let me address this from a business standpoint. I am sure many of you are working from home these days as I am. It can be very difficult when working from home to create a good boundary or separation from your workday. It is very helpful to try to create a good structure for your day much like your workday in the office would be. You might try the following:
- Have a definitive start and end time.
- If possible, set up your workspace in a room separate from the places you relax.
- Make your workspace enjoyable to be in by keeping it clutter-free, utilizing an essential oil diffuser, candles, or music.
- If you’ve been working in your pajamas, consider getting dressed in comfortable clothes.
- If you have any spiritual practices, consider making time for them before you begin your workday.
- Get plenty of exercise and rest.
- Make plans for something you enjoy after work. For example: Schedule a Zoom call with friends or family; plan a game night with family; read a new book; start a new hobby.
- Find a ritual that helps you transition from your work to your home life. Examples include: changing clothes; going for a walk; making a meal; etc.
Next, I would like to address dealing with the quarantine from a personal level. This is certainly an unprecedented time in our history. Many are under great personal stress for financial reasons, or because they or a loved one are sick with Covid-19, or because they are home alone and suffering greatly with tremendous loneliness. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one to this awful virus. Maybe you had to put off a surgery or doctor visit you needed to have. Maybe you are at home with someone that is difficult to spend so much time around. Maybe your anxiety is through the roof. We are all in a collective state of grief. So much of what we are feeling is grief-related. All kinds of losses bring about the emotion of grief. All of that to say, none of us can do this alone. We need to be in contact with others on a regular basis that listen to us and help us feel safe emotionally during this time. Below are some ideas for dealing with this on a personal level:
- Again, create a predictable schedule for your days, including weekends. It helps to have a plan in a time when things feel so unpredictable and out of control.
- Create a calendar with your plans on it so that you can see what you have to look forward to.
- Stress hormones often make us want to get into action which is difficult to do right now. Exercise is a great stress reliever. Do things to get yourself moving like working in your yard, going for a walk, having a dance party with the people living in your home, or by yourself.
- Don’t use food, drugs, or alcohol as a way to numb out or escape your feelings. Instead, talk to a trusted friend, your counselor, pastor, etc.
- Utilize the CALM app to help regulate your breathing and emotions.
- Foster your connections with others. If you are alone, consider fostering or adopting a pet. Create times to connect with others via social media options.
- Limit how much news you watch, listen to, read.
- If you are living with others in a stressful environment, make sure you have a safe space to withdraw to where you can be alone when needed.
- If you are in an abusive situation, ask for help now. You can call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 24 hours a day or go to the website www.thehotline.org/help.
- Ask for help! If you are feeling alone and have thoughts of harming yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 24 hours a day.
Lastly, keep focused on things you are grateful for during this time. Look for ways you can help someone else if possible. And, as Mr. Rogers once shared:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”