Spotlight on Kimberly Pilditch, Therapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Chicago, IL
How does love and a commitment to liberation support effective treatment of anxiety? Today, we’d like to introduce you to Kimberly Pilditch, LCSW. In this interview, we explore Kimberly’s journey to becoming a specialist in treating anxiety, and how faith led her to committing to a vision of inclusive, anti-racist practice.
Questions and Answers
Sarah Suzuki: Let’s start with your story – how you started and got to where you are today. What drew you to the field of social work? Psychotherapy? Has it been a straightforward path for you?
Kimberly Pilditch: It’s been quite the journey! After getting my clinical social work license, I began working with DCFS and the foster care system offering services and visitation to families whose children had been removed, supporting foster parents, and reporting my data and findings in court for reunification purposes. Then I moved on to an assistant director position counseling young, pregnant girls on their options, supporting them in their pregnancies, and teaching prenatal classes. After this, I took 14 years off to raise my 3 children! That was definitely the most challenging but rewarding job so far!
When I decided to start working again, I got a position in Family Support, helping families access resources in the community to help them emotionally, physically, and financially. From there, I began doing home visiting, parenting skills coaching, and child development education, and then moved on to supervising the home visiting staff. 7 years of family support and administration and my passion and excitement for doing individual therapy (where I first began in my internship) were reignited. So I resigned and joined CCC! I am right where I am supposed to be at this point in my life!
You’ve got some fascinating insights on the role of spirituality in well-being. Spirituality is significant in addiction recovery – crucial! But the mental health industry tends to downplay the importance of spirituality. Why do you think that is?
Society, and in particular, the mental health industry, like to downplay the importance of spirituality because they want to focus on the science, the facts, the things that can be researched and make sense. Much of a person’s spiritual experience doesn’t make sense to someone else and is very individualized and left up to the individual’s interpretation.
For that reason, the mental health field largely ignores the spiritual healing aspect of a person because they do not see it as an “across-the-board” effective method for treating someone. It is too subjective and controversial, and focusing on science is far more lucrative and safe.
This connects to ideas you’ve shared with me about liberation. What do you believe we need to be liberated from? Where are we stuck?
We need to be liberated from a “one size fits all” approach to working with individuals. There is no one right way and no perfect timeline for how and when healing will occur. As therapists, we must be freed from operating out of a trapped, confined mindset and preconceived notions about how therapy should look. Every person has a unique and beautiful story to tell. Only by allowing them to reveal themselves to us will we gain the clarity and direction for how to help them in a way they connect with.
What inspires you spiritually as a white person committed to anti-racism? Where does your commitment come from?
I want to love others as Jesus loved while he was here on earth. Jesus was the ultimate example of crossing all cultural/racial/socio-economic barriers and seeing the person. He met individuals where they were and loved and accepted them despite their mistakes, weaknesses, and faults.
I am committed to being a person who can love without judgment and striving to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be. That means that I will be uncomfortable and sometimes face deep-seated fears. But if that’s how I can get to a place of anti-racism, I choose to take whatever steps I need to take to get there.
You combine Rapid Mind Renewal (RMR) with the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). How do those two approaches work together?
Rapid Mind Renewal goes to the root of the problem. It focuses on the Pain of Offenses, the Pain of Memories, and the Pain of Relationships. The basis for the rapid renewal centers around the client, the facilitator, and the Holy Spirit working together to bring things to mind that need forgiveness and healing. This technique can be used with anyone with a faith background and an openness to spiritual guidance and direction. Rapid Mind Renewal is used more often for returning to the past to bring transformation in the person’s life.
The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) focuses on the present or what is yet to come. It centers around stress or anxiety connected to a particular situation or issue causing distress. EFT uses “Tapping” on 9 different pressure points (meridian points) on the body to restore disrupted energy due to negative emotions. Tapping on these points sends signals to the brain to restore a sense of calm and peace and can be used preventatively on a regular basis as well. These two approaches together deal with past, present, and potential future trauma and stress.
What is the most critical issue facing the mental health and psychotherapy industry? How do you think the field will change in the next decade?
Many people, particularly the teen/young adult population, are falling through the cracks. Our resources seem to focus more on fixing the problems and issues rather than finding preventative solutions. We can and should identify mental health services that will keep a person from spiraling downward into the depths of despair and taking their own life or the lives of others. Our society and nation could do a far better job at focusing on the mental health crisis we are facing and realizing that the way they approach it is ineffective.
What book are you reading right now? (Or) What podcast are you listening to right now?
I am reading several books, actually! I just started a book called, “Breaking Emotional Barriers To Healing: Understanding the Mind-Body Connection In Your Illness” by Craig Miller. I’m also reading “Be The Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation” by Latasha Morrison. I listen to many different podcasts, but my favorite topics are living simply with less, managing money, and spiritual growth. One of my new favorite podcasts is “Therapy and Theology”.
Since you specialize in anxiety, I’m wondering: what is one of our culture’s most common and harmful myths about anxiety?
“Anxiety is just worrying” and “Anxiety is just a part of life.” These two beliefs are detrimental to our society because anxiety should be taken seriously like any other mental illness.
Yes, for some people, periods of anxiety and stress come and go and are connected to specific life transitions. But for those having difficulty functioning and feeling it is necessary to seek help, it is much bigger than worry or a normal part of life. When society downplays serious issues in mental health, they are missing a vital area for prevention and a greater understanding of what we could do to help.
There is so much collective anxiety in our world. What’s one thing you do for yourself to stay grounded and centered?
I pray and listen to praise music A LOT ! Focusing on my faith keeps me grounded. Faith helps me stay centered on the choices I need to make, the direction I need to take, and the peace and hope that keeps me going.
You really experience values-alignment and integrity with your faith.
Yes! It is the foundation for everything I do. I cannot separate my faith from the way I treat others and the purpose that I am called to fulfill for my life. I also take at least a 30-minute walk a day to get outside, clear my head, and get in tune with nature. The sunlight really has positive effects on my mental health!
Takeaway #1: We need to be liberated from a “one size fits all” approach to working with individuals. There is no one right way and no perfect timeline for how and when healing will occur. As therapists, we need to be freed from operating out of a trapped, confined mindset and preconceived notions for how therapy should look.
Takeaway #2: When society downplays serious issues in mental health, they are missing a vital area for prevention and a greater understanding of what we could do to help.
Takeaway #3: Every person has a unique and beautiful story to tell and only by allowing them to reveal themselves to us will we gain the clarity and direction for how to help them in a way that they really connect with.
Learn more about Kimberly Pilditch, LCSW