Where We Meet
My office is in Durham, NC, approximately a mile south of the Duke University's West Campus. We meet in a small, custom-built "meditation hut" under the pine trees in a quiet residential neighborhood. The floors are cedar, the paneling is reclaimed poplar paneling from an old house that was torn down, and there are windows on 3 sides looking out on lush plant life and trees. The ceiling is high and there is a ventilation fan that replaces the air in the space once or twice an hour. Clients have described it as a tranquil, peaceful, calming, welcoming space, conducive to doing creative, transformative, playful work.
Who I SeeI work with individual adults 18 and older, including elders. I am an LGBTQ+-affirmative counselor, and have worked with clients who are clarifying issues of sexual identity. I work especially well with clients who are seeking, undergoing, confronting, or contemplating changes in vocation, role, relationship, and life direction. If you are looking to live, direct, create those transitions more fully, finding a balance between "going with the flow" and "taking charge," with a sense of the possibilities as well as the not-knowing and the obstacles that come with change, I can help you navigate and create that balance.
Sustainable, lasting change cannot be accomplished in once-a-week sessions. People I work with either already have a commitment to practices such as: mindfulness, experiences in the natural world, spirituality, creative play, meditation, yoga, tai chi, OR they have a desire to establish practices and a readiness to explore them. The point is always to increase well-being through embodiment, expressiveness, connection to your wholeness. Central to our work, and one of my greatest joys, lies in partnering with you to discover and develop lifelong practices for well-being and growth that suit you. Well-being practices should not be burdensome, homework-I-hate activities! A practice that works for you will be something you look forward to, have immediate positive sensations from doing, and experience cumulative benefits from.
I have spent over 40 years doing this work with myself, benefitting from the wisdom and sponsorship of many guides and teachers. I maintain my own daily practices, and look forward to sharing with, and learning from, you what will increase your joy, vitality, creativity, sense of safety, sense of purpose, and positive connection with yourself and others. As someone whose creative, expressive life is of central importance to my own well-being, I support everyone to increase their creative capacities and productivity, and to resolve creative blocks and impasses. We all are given a life that is our greatest creative "canvas" -- we all need embodiment, expression, and ways to bring our creativity to everyday living, regardless of what kind of work we do, what relationships we have, or how we spend our time. If you have even a vague sense of wanting to live more fully and creatively in the world, I can help! My practice includes a diverse population from a variety of cultural, racial, ethnic, spiritual, and religious backgrounds, sexual orientations, genders, and professions. Clients have ranged in age from their late teens to early 70s, been full-time students, mid-life career changers --- anyone seeking change and a greater sense of meaning in their lives. They have been single, married, divorced, and partnered, with and without children. This diversity is one of the things I love about Durham, and about my work.
Working With Me
Whatever desires bring you into our conversations, our work together will be collaborative. We will follow your agenda, values, and priorities. Together, we can clarify your yearnings, desires, goals and visions, identify strengths you already possess and can use in new ways, and develop additional positive resources that will support your becoming as happy and fulfilled as you can be, confident in your gifts and how to bring them to the world.
When we've hit a place in life where we've thrown everything we have at obstacles that refuse to budge, when we realize there are negative patterns that simply won't give way to our best intentions, when how we've been doing it is no longer getting it, as uncomfortable and unnerving as that impasse might feel, it is also a signal that we've entered an enormously creative stage. Confusion can be a state of grace from which meaningful change can arise, if we are willing to engage with it. That kind of seeking and deepening of self is best conducted through creative engagement that is witnessed, held, supported, and facilitated by an experienced guide.
It's important to know that my idea of "a successful life" is one which is lived as fully as possible right until the moment it ends. Vitality, expressiveness, a wholesome relationship to one's past, a good relationship with yourself and loving connection with others, meaningful work or a sense of your life's purpose are goals I am strongly committed to supporting you to reach.
How We Go About It
I provide a "safe container" for our work. My approach is accepting, encouraging, holistic, and experiential. I bring no ideas of specific outcomes to our work; I consider it a privilege to learn about you and your life, your desires and goals as well as your hurts and struggles.
I will listen to you deeply and without judgment. Quite often, this alone can bring some relief if you are in distress. Then, by heightening our awareness of "what is so" in your life, we can begin to shape the changes you seek. Also, I am by nature, temperament, and experience a coach and teacher. I will bring that into our process, sharing with you new possibilities for improved communication, stress relief, mindfulness, physical relaxation, and boundary-setting, for example. I can share resources with you for complementary practices such as reasonably-priced massage therapists, to classes in different styles of meditation, yoga, and tai chi, as well as websites, podcasts, readings on a wide variety of related topics.
As a former actor, I have over 40 years' experience and training in relaxation techniques, body process, and developing creativity. I am also a writer, maker of botanical monoprints, handmade journals, mixed media collage, and assemblages. This background enables me to use expressive arts interventions, and to work directly with body-emotion-mind-spirit interconnections in our counseling.
Different Levels of Change
When you are unhappy with how your life is going, or with how you feel about yourself and the world, it's easy to develop ideas that "not being like I am," "getting rid of these parts of me," or "changing into a different sort of person" is "what I have to do."
So let me say this: we won’t be working together to "turn you into" something or somebody else. I believe health, healing, and happiness come from becoming ever MORE yourself, not less! But we are rarely taught to attune to our own core selves, how to listen inwardly and deeply. We may even have learned to mistrust the quiet voice within, to reject the very wisdom that could guide our growth and transformation. However concrete and pragmatic your goal, part of our process will always be to strengthen your connection with what you might call your heart-mind, your center, your creative consciousness, your true voice, or truest self.
This fluid, constantly regenerated, positive connection with ourselves is the basis for our connection with others: intimate partners, our children and families, friends, community, nature, whatever we believe in that is larger than our individual ego selves, our ancestors, and the larger world.
Any level of real change requires courage and candor -- from both of us -- and a willingness to stay connected to the process even when it may be uncomfortable. Whatever levels we find ourselves working on, I will honor your priorities, stay with you at your pace, respect your integrity, while also challenging and inviting you -- in ways serious and playful -- to grow.
To live the life, and to be the self, we most want to be often requires transformation. Healing old wounds, transforming your relationship to your past, diving deep into the well of your creative powers and discovering what you most want in this life -- what some people may think of as fulfilling their true purpose or greatest potential -- these are some of the directions and explorations that comprise deeper level change.
Licensing, Certification, Training, and Education
I am a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in North Carolina, a National Certified Counselor, and took my MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from UNC Greensboro. Post-graduate work includes: a 250-hour certificate program at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, 10 years of study in generative trance, generative change, and self-relations work with Dr. Stephen Gilligan, and Creative Mind Coach Certification with Dr. Gilligan. I hold a BFA in Acting from New York University, and an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Bennington College.
On a Personal Note
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, raised in Ohio and Louisiana, I have lived in Durham since 1999, after having lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Boston, Stockbridge, Cleveland, and New York City (twice!). My husband and I love the High Country of NC, almost any kind of movie, music concerts at the Carolina Theater and DPAC, shows at PlayMakers Rep, and all the fabulous food -- from trucks to bistros to diners to fancy restaurants to farmer's markets -- that grace the town of Durham. We share a bad habit of staying up too late reading, much to the delight of our rat terrier rescue, Lucy, and two adopted shelter cats.
Charisse Coleman ReachesDurham NC