Learning to accentuate the positive

January 8, 2012
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Senior managers know it’s not only lonely at the top, but their day-to-day responsibilities of managing a company or organization require a fair share of gut-churning stress.

Licensed master social worker Kathy Hyink said she’s developed a therapy program tailored for time-constrained CEOs, CFOs and COOs to help them eliminate their job-related strain, tap into personal strengths and fulfill unmet needs.

That’s a tall order to fill, but Hyink maintains that with more than three decades of counseling experience under her belt — 14 of them in private practice at 723 Kenmoor Ave. SE — she’s developed a counseling program she said achieves those goals by blending 15 therapies into a single “holistic program.”

Those therapies include psychodynamic, behavioral and energy therapies that Hyink believes are more respectful of clients than traditional counseling because they focus on positive attributes instead of concentrating on the problem at hand.

“Conventional counseling tends to focus on what’s wrong with people, and then, most often, the client is handed a script for medication,” said Hyink. “That’s the emphasis. I decided about 18 years ago there’s a better way to do things. My own personal philosophy plays a large role in my work.”

That philosophy includes taking into account the work-a-day world of senior corporate executives. It’s for that reason she says she can get the job done with no more than seven counseling sessions that average one-and-a-half hours each “with no fluff.” That means the parameters Hyink maintains in her counseling sessions take into account executives who are often reticent to talk about their feelings and don’t cotton to being placed in a subordinate counselor-client role.

In part, that’s what drew Denny Cherette to Hyink when a business friend referred him to her three years ago.

“The first thing she told me was I would only be here for ‘X’ amount of time,” said Cherette, co-CEO of Grand Haven based Investment Property Associates Inc. “My experience is people go to a counselor for years, so I found her shorter amount of time to be unique. She has a straightforward, no-nonsense approach and she got into immediately what my challenges are. I found her to be direct and intuitive in her practice.”

Perhaps the most satisfying experience Cherette had with Hyink was her ability to help him find relief from the waves of pain he was experiencing due to compressed discs in his spine. He was getting shots using 4-inch needles that would relieve the pain for a while, but then he’d need to go back when the block wore off.

But in what he describes as a 20-minute visualization session where he imagined a decaying room filled with sharp, red pain that he “cleaned” out, Cherette said he’s had “zero pain” in three years. Cherette tempers his enthusiasm by explaining Hyink is not a faith healer. As a former board member of Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, he supports traditional medicine.

“I mean, I couldn’t turn my neck,” said Cherette. “I have had zero pain in three years and I went in completely cynical. I told my doctor about it, and he said, ‘Trust me, the discs are still compressed.’ I cannot explain it.”

Hyink explains how her therapy sessions accomplish such things by relying on a heavy dose of anecdotal examples and metaphors that include comparing a person’s brain to defragmenting a computer hard drive, a process she refers to as a “scattering of stress” that may have built up through many years of unresolved, wounding experiences, as well as a scattering of personal strengths that a client has not been able to pull together.

When they do pull it together, clients are able to overcome their depression, improve their concentration and gain better decision-making and time management skills.

“They have experiences in here using their whole brain,” said Hyink. “The left side is the logical side and the right side is the more creative, more emotional side. I’m facilitating a process that integrates what they know with how they feel.

“What happens here is a person finally gets it together — there is no more scattering of stress and there’s more awareness and accessibility to strengths. They get needs meet that should have been met a long time ago.”

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