Meet Jessica Loftus, Clinical Psychologist
Gratitude, the warm feeling of thankful appreciation, is the theme of my counseling practice, Gratitude Well Counseling and Resources, located in Palos Heights, Illinois. During my 20 years of experience as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and National Certified Career Counselor, my little kitty pal, PurSneakity, and I have witnessed the healing power of gratitude on many occasions.
The Gratitude Well
The simple act of expressing gratitude for one’s life fortunes offers such a powerful antidote to stress, depression and anxiety that I integrated this practice as a counseling intervention in our waiting room years ago. A table-top wishing well bearing the sign, “Gratitude Well”, prominently displays the invitation to “jot down one thing for which you are grateful on a piece of paper and toss it into the well”. Each week a gratitude drawn from the well is posted conspicuously in the waiting room. The Gratitude Well inspires clients, who are usually struggling with serious life problems, to think more positively, even for the moment. Over the years, many inspiring gratitudes have emerged from the well. One of my personal favorites is “I am on the right side of the dirt.”
For years, we conducted career-counseling workshops for community residents at a local women’s health center and a prominent book store. One of my favorite workshops, entitled “Once Upon a Career” featured well-known fairy-tale characters to describe the primary career personality types. The fairy-tale morals also served as inspiration for participants who were anxious about making a career change. This prompted me to create a wallet-sized card entitled, “Easy Ways to Ease Stress” (also the title of my current website), which listed simple tried-and-true techniques to reduce anxiety. To this day, every one of our clients receives one of these cards.
In 2007, we organized a day-long retreat, Soothing the Body, Mind and Spirit, held at a local nature center. A variety of professionals, including clergy members, psychiatrist, physician, counselor, laughter leader, pet therapist, artist, naturalist and two musicians offered their insights on easing stress. One of the recurring themes from the various experts was “gratitude”. This inspired me to rename the counseling practice and institute the waiting-room intervention of the gratitude well.
In keeping with the philosophy of the Gratitude Well, my colleagues and I set out to express our gratitude through community service. Among the many workshops we facilitated over the years, here are some of the more prominent titles. Depression Found Meaningful, Hoping for a Baby, Gear up for College, Evening of Networking Magic, Discover the Secret of the Secret, Dump the Diet and Nourish Your Self and Women, Words & Wisdom. All of these were offered free of charge or for a small gratitude offering.
A Tribute to my Intern
Over the years, many interns and newly licensed counselors enjoyed affordable opportunities to start their practices. Of all the counselors in my employ, Michelle Murray, Licensed Professional Counselor, has truly embodied the philosophy of the Gratitude Well practice in the most profound way. As an intern, Michelle worked diligently to provide counseling to underprivileged clients for a nominal fee, which was often waived and co-lead our support group for Survivors of Abuse and Other Forms of Mistreatment. She also co-presented a lecture to a local police department on The Keys to Effective Interventions with Individuals with Mental-Health Disorders.
One final gratitude – my little kitty pal, PurSneakity, authored his debut book entitled, Tails of Bad Habits with a bit of help from his “purrchologist” who is fluent in Meow and specializes in feline issues”. In this book, Pusneakity shares his “tails” of how he struggles, resists, progresses and backslides in his journey of overcoming is BAD HABITS (Boredom, Addiction, Deception, Habits, Anxiety, Bullying, Intolerance, Two-timing and Selfishness). Readers enjoy the cat’s amusing antics with his littermate, Patience; his cat rival, Fido; and his beloved, Penelope as they inspire him to rethink his bad attitude that “mouses are louses who don’t belong in houses”.
What am I grateful for? I am grateful for all the opportunities in my life to use my true gifts to help others to find their true gifts and walk their true paths.