Mental health is a serious problem in this country with too many people without access to the care they need. We all know this, but Kristin Belkofer, MS, LPC has dedicated her livelihood to improving it.
Recently, Belkofer opened the CLARA Healing Institute in Wauwatosa. CLARA – which is an acronym for “Connection," “Leadership," “Attunement," “Regulation” and "Agency" – offers a holistic, multi-faceted approach to mental health with the goal of revolutionizing how we see, treat, speak and think about mental health and wellness.
“CLARA Healing Institute has a unique, person-centered model that allows for holistic care that addresses every facet of mental wellness,” says Belkofer.
Belkofer is the founder and clinical director and her husband, Dr. Christopher Belkofer, PhD, LPC, ATR-BC, serves as therapist and consultant.
"We are currently onboarding a clinical staff of multiple amazing therapists, with specialties in EMDR, breathwork, art and expressive therapies, yoga, reiki and somatic therapies among more traditional therapeutic modalities," says Belkofer.
According to Belkofer, the United States mental health system is very focused on treating and eliminating symptoms instead of treating people holistically and proactively.
‘This is a huge problem because often root causes aren't taken into account, especially societal influences like racism and sexism, and how they lead to trauma and illness," says Belkofer. ""CLARA is actively anti-racist. We strive for deep understanding and respect for intersectionality in all levels of our clinical and community work.”
And secondly, Belkofer believes people are more than their symptoms.
"We aim to treat the whole person, including their mind, body, and soul," she says.
CLARA’s services are numerous, and all fall under three categories “Clinical Services,” “Community Circle” and “Wisdom Collective.”
Clinical Services provide individual, family and couples counseling and psychotherapy.
"Much of what we do is help clients to build a healthy tolerance to their own emotions and physiological reactions. We do this in small, gentle, compassionate baby steps: through narratives, art, meditation, visualization or simply expressing and talking in a nonjudgmental environment," says Belkofer.
Community Circle offers different group therapies, and The Wisdom Collective unites community healers and visionaries like Venice Williams, a cultural and spiritual midwife who is offering spiritual advising services and herbal consulting, and Dr. Jessica Larson who'll provide parenting support and programs for anyone identifying as a mother.
“One of the reasons I wanted to start CLARA is because therapy can be very lonely and isolating work, and becoming burned out is always a risk,” says Belkofer.
CLARA also has an inclusive, community space with access to a therapeutic and healing library curated by expert therapists, community leaders, spiritual guides and medical professionals from a wide range of disciplines.
“I believe that we do important, meaningful work that is desperately needed right now, and we want to meet that need. I wanted to create a culture where therapists and helping professionals gather, support each other, ask for help, find respite and never stop learning from one another,” says Belkofer. "And where people can truly learn how to be their best selves."