Branches Counseling Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn. launched a grief recovery group to address issues of loss in the community. Led by Marlena Butler, a certified grief recovery specialist and clinical pastoral counselor, the eight-week program helps people work through their grief, embracing the pain rather than avoiding it.
“That aim of the group is vastly different than traditional grief support groups,” Butler said. “It’s focused less on wiping the grief out than working through it and reaching completion of it.
Designed for those age 18 and up, the grief recovery program is the first of its kind to take place in Rutherford County. Butler is quick to note that she shares with the group as much as she asks anyone else in attendance, since emotional honesty is “the running theme throughout” the program.
“First, we build a foundation that’s really about debunking a lot of the myths and preconceptions about grief that might actually be contributing to the problem,” Butler said. “Much of it comes down to a lack of correct information, due to the ways we’ve all been socialized. But there’s a whole group of emotions that are missed when we do that. That’s often why people say they feel ‘stuck’ in their grief.”
In addition to holding a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Clinical Christian Counseling, Butler has training in Conflict Resolution and Family Systems Healthcare, which focuses on helping patients and families dealing with not only grief, but illness and disability.
Butler has been conducting individual grief recovery sessions under the Branches Counseling banner since April of 2018, but the first group program launched in September. One of the things that make the group unique, Butler says, is that the definition of grief is expansive.
“The broad definition of grief is a normal reaction to loss of any kind,“ Butler said. “It doesn’t have to be death or divorce. But this is about loss, period. If you’re dealing with loss, which can mean change of any kind, you’re perfect for our group.”
Branches is a faith-based counseling center that offers counseling and therapy services to those struggling with depression, anxiety, and addiction, regardless of their ability to pay. Its staff of both state licensed and pastoral counselors work with couples, individuals, children, and adolescents, bringing traditional counseling and Biblical principles together to address personal, family, and relational issues among those it serves.