Therapist Amy Riecken helps clients build on strengths
Dedicated therapist, social worker, and founder of Bayside Counseling AMY RIECKEN knew early on what she wanted to be when she grew up. “Trauma is my passion!” she says, with a laugh. “A pastor once told me you know you’re where you’re supposed to be when other people are like ‘Wait. You’re so excited about that?’”
While volunteering in high school, Riecken worked with developmentally delayed kids through swimming and lifestyle enrichment activities and with youth and adults at Fort Wayne Developmental Center. “I figured out then that I wanted to be a social worker,” she says. “What a neat thing to do, I realized, helping people build upon their strengths and lead better lives. I had a couple of great therapists in life who helped me do this, and I felt it would be amazing to do that for others. I loved giving back.”
After working in a Lake Norman practice and as a community mental health provider in Charlotte, Riecken moved closer to the beach. She and her husband bought land in Pender County, and Bayside Counseling was born.
“I noticed a significant lack of mental health resources in the community,” she explains, and serving community has always been important to her. “I like to work in the community I live in because you understand what people are talking about, and dealing with. Truly, I never take for granted what it feels like to sit in that seat and open up to me. I’m always aware of what it’s taken for someone new to walk in and ask for help.”
At her Hampstead office, Riecken sees a wide array of patients, from teenagers to retirees, and treats a variety of trauma-informed responses.
Riecken harnesses innovative techniques such as Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, or EMDR, which trains the brain to resolve stress-related responses to past traumas.
“Trauma can be anything that’s provoked a negative response,” she explains, on the ways EMDR can help the brain reprocess memories in order to resolve a stress-related response.
Passionate about the merits of EMDR, Riecken named her 82-pound doodle Francine Shapiro, after the technique’s founder. “This Francine Shapiro is actually training to be a therapy dog!” says Riecken with a laugh. Indeed, once she learns to greet clients a little less enthusiastically, the canine Francine Shapiro will assist with select sessions.
As well, Bayside Counseling specializes in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, known as DBT: “It’s very effective in creating behavior change,” explains Riecken. “In a DBT group setting, there are 50 lessons. We work all the way through them together.”
The practice is thriving, and her clients see results. “People become better able to think through the present, rather than allowing the past to control their decision-making process.”
After thirteen months in practice, Bayside Counseling will expand its services to collaboration with other health and wellness providers. “While we’ll maintain our own practices, we’ll come together under the same roof to integrate complementary modalities like yoga, massage, and wellness practices,” shares Riecken.
As always, she continues to help clients identify and build upon their existing strengths; from sense of humor to creative pastimes to key relationships that inform their lives, clients can use these qualities to recreate themselves through therapy. “It’s a joy to explore a client’s existing strengths to develop new skills, strategies, and working toward their goals,” says Riecken. “It helps them heal.”
To view more of photographer Daria Amato’s work, go to dariaphoto.com
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