With 32 years of marriage, five children, and a counseling career spanning 20 years, Roberta Martin knows a thing or two about real life.
“I haven’t just read a book about some of this stuff,” she says. “I’m not trying to provide services on something I don’t know that much about. I have spent a lot of time working on relationship issues in my own life, and those vast, rich experiences have created my base of knowledge. What I do is really who I am.”
Martin brought this breadth of knowledge to PC&CC late this summer, joining the staff in our Chevy Chase offices. She notes that her nursing career and experience in the medical field provides her with another lens in her casework. She has a good idea of when to refer her clients to a physician for medication.
“I have a holistic view of how you put the spirit and the mind together with the body, in a real sense,” she explains. “I look at counseling as a collaborative experience. Clients have within them the amazing ability to do their own work. My desire is to help them to know themselves, know others, and know God through this collaborative experience and to reach a healthier way of being.”
Martin’s own career path reflects this awareness of spirit and the body. First as a maternal child health nurse and later as a psychiatric nurse, Martin knew that her patients could improve, but needed lots of support and time for that to happen.
“I grew frustrated with the fact that I loved working with the people I was caring for, but there were no spiritual resources I could offer them in the hospital environment. I knew they needed more to help them truly heal,” Martin says. “I would develop relationships with these people, and would have to watch them be discharged well before they should have been.”
Out of this frustration, came Martin’s fervent prayer that there would be some way to augment her nursing skills with the spiritual tools she knew would help her patients move forward. “I was sitting one day in church and a person from the Loyola Pastoral Counseling program came to speak. I had my A-ha moment,” she says. Martin received her M.S. in Pastoral Counseling at Loyola University Maryland in 1993.
Since that time she has worked in counseling centers and private practice, helping clients dealing with a multitude of spiritual and psychological issues. Recently, after the retirement and relocation of a trusted colleague, Martin realized she was looking for a change of venue. “I was sitting in my kitchen and [PC&CC Executive Director Carl Siegel] called me. He said, ‘We heard that you are good at what you do and were wondering if you might like to join us.’ When he called, it was like an answer to some of the prayers I had about having more collegiality in my life.”
Martin enjoys counseling older teenagers and adults. Her experience includes working with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, grief and loss, and addictions. She has led psycho-educational groups on “Boundaries” and has been a part of an ongoing spiritual life group for over 20 years. She will complete the training portion of the Imago Relationship Therapy program in 2011.
“I’m really intrigued with how well the Imago model of relationship has worked for me,” she explains. “I’ve been doing relationship work for years, but I have not felt as satisfied with the results as when I started working with this model. I’m really excited about increasing my work with couples. With the support of the group here, I hope to be learning from people who are more experienced than I am.”
Martin works in PC&CC’s Chevy Chase offices. She may be reached at 301-908-8110 or via email.