Karen W. Nolen, LICSW is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker receiving her MSW at the University of Michigan in 1995 and BSW in 1990 from Northeastern State, Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Prior to working in mental health, I did environmental work for non-profits in Oklahoma, Michigan and Massachusetts often initiating conversations between national and local non-profits, community leaders, local schools and colleges. In Michigan, I worked for GREEN (Global Rivers Environmental Educational Network), as their Native American Outreach Coordinator within the U.S. and Great Lakes regions of Canada, bringing the values of social work and indigenous peoples into conversations on water quality with both tribal and environmental education projects. While gathering curriculum and tools from Bioregional Congresses, I was fortunate to meet the late Thomas Berry and Theodore Roszak who each in their own ways, introduced me to ecopsychology. I can't believe that was 20 years ago. Back then, my resume read; Environmental Social Worker. I know of no other practice that encompasses our wholeness as much as social work, especially when I consider it's origins.
Today ecotherapy is an emerging aspect of my practice. It's clear that many are making the leap between psychology and ecology. New generations are coordinating interests and skills in line with sustainable ecological principles, creating ways to honor their passions with integrity. My current studies and practices include ecotherapy and aspects of energy medicine and psychology; exploring where the two meet.
Periodically, I continue to keep my hand in water quality through staying abreast of threats to local water resources where I live and through volunteering within my local watershed. Because I live on the Connecticut River, my own well contains adjacent ground water so I'm constantly reminded that we all live downstream.
Throughout my personal and professional life, I recognize shifts in the mental health of those who learn to move concern for their environment and accompanying fear, anger or ambivalent feelings of helplessness into integrity and involvement, often fostering confidence in other areas of life. When hurricanes Rita and Katrina struck my native Louisiana, I spent 3 years utilizing my clinical and community skills serving my family and native place of belonging. Upon returning to New England, my spiritual place of belonging, I learned nothing is wasted, when several tornadoes struck Massachusetts. I provided trauma recovery workshops, helping victims make sense of their experiences. Through education and helping them find skills in their midst they captured the encouragement of co-supporting one another, allowing healing to begin.
I have my own deep grief around a greed that seems to be fostering human destruction of this planet. I work with others who also struggle with deep grief, whether over losses of relationships, lifestyles, work or a deep sense of place. Healing can be transforming. Whether stories are uncovered through counseling, storytelling, participation in nature and/or the arts; we often find ourselves open to learning new-and-exciting forms of action, inner and outer. This naturally increases skills in other areas of life. I noticed similar benefits for those who participate in Artist Way groups. The dynamic strength of circles can co-create added assets in ways that might not otherwise arise. This allows for new individual ways of being and softer ways of walking on this beautiful planet home of ours.
In summary, serving ages 13 and up, this private practice draws on an eclectic variety of therapy modes and studies. I assist clients with ADD, addictions, chronic mental health issues as well as temporary adjustments, losses or life transitions. Personal coaching is available. As a creative person, I take great pleasure in helping artists become accountable to their own creative styles. By using interactive approaches which can include family systems, encouragement of the arts, energy work, mindfulness and reviewing individual learning styles, clients view themselves as more complete, with natural responses to the many stressers we encounter today.
Referrals for other supports or homework may be encouraged. I belong to the Association of Social Work Boards, was a founding member of Western Mass Green Energy Consortium and recently joined the Massachusetts Audubon Society.
"We cannot solve our problems, with the same thinking we used when we created them." ...Albert Einstein