Nursing People Towards Emotional Health
Innovative Counseling, Therapy and Personal Growth - 1998
By Bob Cox
Andrea Lambert was like a fish out of water. “I was a nurse originally. I found it very frustrating back then (30 years ago) because people in hospital beds were there because of emotional issues, things that they had bottled up inside. In those days they called it psychosomatic illnesses, which was a negative word. It’s all in your head. It was frustrating because their physical problems were based on emotional needs and I wanted to work with them emotionally, (but) it (the hospital) wouldn’t be the right place,” Andrea recalled.
So Andrea did what most people talk about, but very few people do. She picked herself up and moved into a brand new field career. For the last 15 years, she’s practiced as a marriage, family and child counselor. “I was trained in 24-hour treatment marathons. They (the clinics) used to have people work on an emotional level for 24 hours straight, around the clock. Their thought was it would break down people’s defenses. The thing that I took from that was I got real, real tired,” explained Andrea.
What Andrea liked about the marathon treatments was the potential for fast, powerful and economical emotional healings. Conventional methods of emotional healing, such as psychotherapy, can take years for the patient to make meaningful progress and cost tens of thousands of dollars. “I got started because I like producing dramatic results in a short period of time. I like to see people get what they’re going for,” said Andrea.
Like a cafeteria setting, Andrea took only the positive things out of the 24-hour treatment marathons and incorporated them into her own training program, which began in 1983. During the last 15 years, she’s seen many positive and inspiring breakthroughs. She believes her 3-day training program (Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday) can be more effective than the traditional psychotherapy’s one-hour visits. “My thought was an hour session once a week when things start rolling (then) you’ve got to stop (wasn’t very practical or effective). I have a silly example—can you imagine going into surgery where the surgeon’s watching the clock and when the hour’s up he says I’ll see you next week!” explained Andrea.
Interestingly enough, Andrea believes that her nursing background was less of a factor than her personal relationships in preparing her for her new career. “My nursing was quote ‘a big joke’ because I was not meant to be a nurse. I didn’t like anything about it. In those days, the early 1960’s, the girls (were expected to be) teachers, secretaries or nurses. Actually, believe it or not, I would have done great with computers. I was a mathematical whiz in high school,” recalled Andrea.
Once Andrea realized that nursing wasn’t her passion, she chose to go back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree. She went on to study child mental health, a field where she earned her master’s degree.
Although nursing wasn’t her heart’s desire, she does credit it for helping her develop a cool head in some very hot situations in the emergency room. Today, one of Andrea’s strongest traits is her ability to handle a crisis well. “I am intense and I am intentional and I can handle things. When you’re in the emergency room, you’ve got to handle some intense stuff,” explained Andrea.
Andrea’s ability to handle a wide range of emotional responses from her clients, such as rage and sorrow, has been invaluable in her counseling practice. “During (each) self-awareness weekend, I really feel confident and positive. I can handle what shows up in that space. It might be judgmental, but I’m not sure other counselors could do that. That stuff can be pretty (intense). A person can be sobbing away or ready to literally murder. It can be scary to someone else, but it doesn’t bother me one iota,” said Andrea.
Andrea firmly believes that feelings and emotions that are kept hidden can cause a variety of physical problems and illnesses. “Repressed feelings take a toll on the body. Brain cancer, high blood pressure, heart attacks and all that stuff (originate from repressed thoughts and feelings),” said Andrea.
Andrea’s personal relationships, more than anything else, have prepared her to help clients heal. “What I love about my work is how understanding I can be with people. That comes from experience. I don’t come from a textbook. I’ve lived it. I’ve walked it. I can just really be with them (my clients) and guide them in a way that I feel is very supportive,” explained Andrea.
Although she’s a gifted and empathetic counselor, Andrea doesn’t pretend to be above others when it comes to personal setbacks. One of the greatest challenges in her personal life occurred 5 years ago during the break-up of her second marriage. “The end of the marriage was emotionally and financially devastating. I was at rock bottom,” recalled Andrea.
What turned things around for Andrea wasn’t her textbook knowledge or counseling skills, but friends who offered their love and support. “I got phenomenal support from friends. Truly out of friends I am here today. My friends say they consider me one of the most courageous people they know, but I don’t really know if it was really courageous, or just self-preservation. I can’t imagine someone going through devastation without having some support system,” explained Andrea.
Andrea’s personal challenges and setbacks have reinforced her belief in her life’s work, which is helping people heal emotional wounds in a safe and supportive environment. “I really believe in support. I see the value of it,” said Andrea.
After reading Victor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning, Andrea was inspired and felt a greater sense of support. “I had to have something to hold on to. If people could make it through concentration camps, I would think anybody could make it through almost anything. I had to know how this guy (Frankl) could make it through there (a concentration camp). On a metaphysical level, (I believe) there’s lessons to learn and we create our school of life, but in an emotional time like that, that’s not always supportive (to hear). What supported me in getting through my devastation was that I knew it was a lesson (and) there was a real solid meaning to it. (Knowing that) really helped me get out of (being a) victim.”
The combination of Andrea’s personal experience and professional training and education have helped her to become a compassionate and supportive counselor, qualities that Andrea believes are necessary in helping people heal emotional wounds, necessary to nurse people towards emotional health.
Andrea Lambert, LMFT been a professional in the Sacramento area for over 25 years. She can be contacted at The Self-Awareness Institute at (866) 204-6384 or