Cynthia Russell has been a full time therapist with Village Counseling Center since January of 2011. For over 6 years now, Cynthia has been a daily occupant of office #1 in the South Elgin location of VCC. Cynthia always has a great smile and a warm greeting for everyone she meets. Over the years of her work at VCC, she has worked with a variety of clients with a wide range of concerns. In particular she does a great deal of work with children and teens. Cynthia loves being a mom to her son, enjoys activities with her husband, and is a great and valued therapist at VCC. We interviewed Cynthia recently, and here are her answers to some of the questions we asked her.
1. What do you do for fun?
Since having a newborn, my fun time lately consists of newborn playtime activities; such as, tummy time, belly raspberries, cooing and babbling and going for walks. I do love the breaks in between when I get to play games on my phone, watch Netflix, go hiking and exploring new trails, trying new places to eat on Groupon. Also, traveling anywhere is super fun for me.
2. What is your favorite food?
My favorite food is hard to answer because I love it all. Anything with cheese is my favorite for sure. Lou Malnati’s Pizza is Amazing and the best pizza ever! I also love Philly style cheese steaks, yum!
3. What is your favorite fun book/author?
My favorite fun book lately has been the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I recommend this book for couples and parents to use as more of a fun exercise to practice as we work together in counseling. I also recommend adult coloring books for fun and relaxation.
4. What is your favorite TV show?
My favorite TV show was a show called Lost. The show ended in 2010. The series had a great mix of science fiction, supernatural, and character drama.
5. What are your hobbies?
My hobbies are similar to what I like to do for fun. I really love puzzles and puzzle games on my phone when I have down time. I also like to get involved with my church and attend events. When I have more free time, I would like to get back into running and biking. Anything outdoors is great!
6. Where did you grow up and what did you enjoy doing as a child?
I grew up in Reading, PA about an hour outside of Philadelphia which is why I love Philly cheese steaks! There are lots of beautiful places to hike. I miss all of the hills and mountains of PA. My favorite childhood memory is when my family would get together for the holidays and birthdays, and we would all play board games together.
7. What is one of your most embarrassing moments?
One of my most embarrassing moments was during my best friend’s wedding many years ago. I was her maid of honor and was supposed to give a very sweet and heartfelt speech, but instead I was super nervous and totally froze. I then proceeded to blurt out random things I loved about my friend and held up my glass for a toast. I was mortified. I wrote everything down, but last minute I thought I could wing it without my note card!
8. What favorite sayings do you have or use?
My favorite saying is “hurt people hurt people.” I think it’s easier to want to sympathize and understand someone who is hurtful after you can see and understand that they are coming from a place of hurt and pain.
9. What is the best advice you ever got?
Best advice I ever got was not to move back to my home town of PA several years ago. I was seriously planning on moving back for many different reasons that were not necessarily the best for me. The partners of the agency Dr. David and Debbie McFadden and Dr. Gursky all three sat me down and encouraged me to really consider the pros and cons. I then realized my reasons for wanting to move were out of fear and feeling obligated. I am so very thankful I took their advice because I wouldn’t have met my husband or had my beautiful baby boy if I had moved back!
10. What sorts of issues do you help people cope with regularly?
Issues that I help people cope with regularly include but are not limited to anxiety, depression, school refusal, teen relationship issues, behavior issues in kids, divorce, parenting, communication issues and healthy conflict.
11. How did you choose counseling as a career?
I chose counseling as a career because as a student in high school, I was interested in mental illness and prevention. I always thought that if I could work with kids, I could help them become healthy adults and, in turn, create a healthier world.
12. What are your strengths as a counselor?
One of my strengths as a counselor is my ability to empathize with my clients. I feel in order to fully help I have to have empathy first. Another one of my strengths is my experience with mental illness growing up. I’ve had several friends and family members who have struggled and continue to struggle with mental illness. Another one of my strengths is that I am respectful and kind. I am also easy going and try to use humor as much as possible because I don’t think counseling should always have to be so intense and serious all the time.
Some things that have contributed to me being a good therapist are my strengths that I listed above including my studies in psychology in my undergraduate education along with my master’s level education in social work at Loyola University. Combined with my education, I also have my internships and work experiences that have contributed helping me become a good therapist. My past internships included working as an outpatient therapist in Chicago, working as a domestic violence court advocate and working with a foster care agency. My career experiences include working as a crisis counselor near the Chicago area, working in a residential facility with intellectually disabled residents and with my current position as a therapist at Village Counseling Center.
13. What do you like about your job?
What don’t I like about my job? I really do love mostly everything that I do. I especially love to see couples rekindle their love and respect for one another. I love to see families get together again. I love to see kids and teens coping with life stressors better, and I love to work with clients who are ready for help.