BirchBay counselor opens private practice

Published on Thu, Jan 11, 2007
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Birch Bay counselor opens private practice

For someone whose stock in trade lies in helping people deal with crisis situations, Birch Bay counselor Leola Adams comes across as a warm, positive and engaging friend, happy to see you and to listen.

Adams, who has 10 years’ experience as a psychotherapist, opened up her private counseling practice in a comfortable and quietly private Birch Bay setting last September after moving south from Anchorage last summer.

“My husband Claude’s work took us north but now allowed us to come back to what Alaskans call the outside,” she said. As is often the case in the area, they have a mixed marriage – he is Canadian and she began life as an American, though now holds dual citizenship.

Adams, who holds a Washington state certificate as a registered counselor, earned a master’s degree 10 years ago in counseling psychology at the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago. The school is named after the man who first developed the holistic theory of personality.

“People really do heal in their own unique ways, through relationships and personal growth rather than as a part of a generalized and rigid theory,” said Adams. Adler, who died in 1937, originated some things that are almost taken for granted these days, she said, such as letting the client determine the course of treatment.

While in Alaska a significant part of her work was devoted to animal bereavement, the sometimes deeply painful process an owner goes through when an animal, especially a beloved pet, dies or is lost.

“These connections can be much deeper and more profoundly affecting than we realize,” she said, “and for some people they are the only intimate emotional connection they may have at the time.”

A large part of her work is with the Bellingham-based Animals as Natural Therapy at Windy Acres Farm on Van Wyck Road, using horses as a way to help clients deal with their personal obstacles.

“Horses are highly intuitive, because as prey animals they’ve had to be good problem solvers to survive. They’re really quick at reading body language, especially differences between how a person may be acting and how they really feel. They make wonderful mirrors for people.”

Clients work both with Adams and a trained horse handler. “I’ve always been interested in the profound relationships between animals and people,” Adams continued, “and how that can be a key to a natural process of healing.”

Adams works mainly with adults in her private practice and with all ages in equine assisted psychotherapy. For more information, call her at 393-5527 or go to