Westmont Magazine The Healing Power of Community
Darrelle Good Fricke ’11 sees the most reluctant clients: people undergoing court-mandated therapy for domestic violence or substance abuse. She works with weekly groups for nine months, listening as individuals tell their stories and hold each other accountable. “Groups help facilitate growth and change in a powerful way, especially with difficult populations,” she says. “CEOs sit next to drug dealers, and the group begins to run itself, experiencing the intrinsically healing nature of community through challenging and creating empathy for one another.
“People don’t intentionally want to hurt each other. I haven’t met a perpetrator who wasn’t first a victim. My clients generally have big hearts with no tools or boundaries. We sit, and they tell about their dynamic life, often disclosing through tears that they’ve never been able to reveal their story to anyone. Often, they’ve never before felt someone believed in them. I believe deeply that we’re all simply people with the same capacity for good and beautiful or dark and twisted things. We need the space for connection and belief to have the courage to choose the good.”
Darrelle had often thought her voice, opinions or personality too intense until she discovered her personal energy and power helped group members feel safe. “The Lord and I had a moment,” she said. “I’m not too intense. I have a calling and unique ability to be an advocate in demanding spaces. God always knew this “weakness” was actually a strength.
Raised in the church, Darrelle grew a bit cynical and numb about her faith until she started asking questions at Westmont on topics such as science and theology, the Holy Spirit, and social justice. “I found the freedom to integrate my faith with my deep callings from the Lord in a safe place,” she says. “Professor Telford Work invested in me and took me under his wing as I grew through difficult circumstances and questioning God’s goodness.” Majoring in religious studies and taking philosophy classes taught her how to learn, think, ask questions, be still and be curious. After graduating, she took the India Mayterm class and spent six months exploring Asia with Rita Jones ’10, volunteering for Mother Teresa’s organization and trekking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.
Returning to her home in Littleton, Colo., Darrelle thought about studying theology in seminary. Then she learned about Rocky Mountain Region (RMR) Backcountry, a Young Life program that takes teenagers through the wilderness, and she became a backpacking guide. She found her calling spending a week with an entire family, an unusual thing. “On the trail, everyone tells their life story, prays for words of encouragement, and speaks truth about their identity,” she says. “This family had never really talked to each other, and their vulnerability brought healing. I realized I was made to help facilitate this kind of reconciliation in relationships and within the individual.”
Darrelle earned her Master of Clinical Mental Health at Denver Seminary and continued to spend her summers guiding with RMR Backcountry, integrating the counseling skills she was learning. She dreamed of doing wilderness therapy but ended up at National Institute for Change interning for court-mandated group therapy. “I found I had a knack for helping people others had written off,” she says.
After establishing a private counseling practice, she now spends more time with individual patients, many of whom come willingly from one of her groups. She met her husband, Scott, a fellow guide, through Young Life and still leads a backpack trip each year. A nurse at Children’s Hospital, Scott is studying to be a psychiatric nurse practitioner so they can practice together and do holistic counseling, ideally involving the outdoors.
The name of her practice, Being Alive is Good Counseling Center, (beingaliveisgood-counseling.com) reflects her deep belief in the intrinsic joy of life. “But when we get hurt, betrayed and rejected, we don’t believe our own worth or even that life itself is worth living,” she says. “I want to help reawaken the belief in people that it’s good to be alive. I feel passionate and inspired each day by human resilience and the ability to change and grow; we can bring redemption to each part of our stories, we can thrive.”