OYM Steven | Mental Health

 

Modern medicine treats mental health symptoms instead of healing the whole person. Many times, the cause of these issues are traumatic events and failing relationships. The show’s guest in this episode is Reverend Steven Steinberger-Domienik, who is also a mental health counselor. Reverend Steven discusses with Timothy J. Hayes, Psy.D. his experiences of helping mental health clients. Listen to this episode to understand the relationship between mental health and spirituality. Tune in!

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Healing The Whole Person: Mental Health And Spirituality With Reverend Steven Steinberger-Domienik

The Rev. Steven Steinberger-Domienik serves a congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. He was raised Roman Catholic and after graduating from the University of Detroit, he initially pursued ordination in one of the Catholic religious orders. He decided to leave for a variety of reasons and found his first job as a Community Mental Health Case Manager working with homeless street people in the Inner City of Cincinnati.

Steven, thank you so much for joining us here. It’s a pleasure to see you again.

Tim, thanks so much for having me. I appreciate this opportunity to have a conversation with you.

I wonder if you could start us off by telling us a little bit about how you got into the work you’re doing and what drives your passion for it?

To begin with, I was raised in a large Roman Catholic family. My parents were very invested in their faith. They used to take me when I was in 4th grade through 8th grade in a parochial school to work as an altar boy for daily mass every day. They would wake me up early. They would leave my younger sisters at home. Something we probably wouldn’t be able to do these days and take me down the street to our local parish. At a very early age, I became embedded, I believe in religious speech, religious tradition, the mystery of the Roman Church and God.

I was trying to find my way as a person of faith throughout grade school. That changed some when I went to a public high school and the church started to fall away for me a little bit. We just went occasionally on Sundays or Saturday evenings. As I’ve progressed to college, I pretty much put my faith practice and tradition on the side. I dove right into the college scene, which was too much of everything, too much having a good time, not enough studying and enjoying the time away from family and friends. There is a point to this because, in my third year of college, I had a very big conversion experience with God. I thought that my life was changing, it was coming to an end and I had a real fear of death.

As I finished up my third year in college, I came back home. I moved back in with my parents and what I did was start to discern what this whole thing about God was. A friend of mine from high school who I ran into was a dancer at Juilliard’s and said, “I go to this place. It’s a Catholic religious order here in Michigan. I’m part of that. Why don’t you come with me? It sounds like you’re having a hard time.” I went with them. For a couple of days, we were a quiet solitude and had time to talk with people. What I realized was when I talked to this one Roman Catholic priest, he said, “What are you doing here? What’s going on in your life?”

All of a sudden, all of this stuff that I had inside of me spewed out and he listened for probably an hour and a half or so. He didn’t say a word and nodded occasionally. At the end of it, he said to me, “Steven, it sounds like you need to make your relationship with God right. You need to be able to forgive yourself. You need to be able to feel forgiven and loved by God.” I was thinking, are you kidding me? There’s nothing to that? What are you talking about? He said, “Would you be willing to try this with me?” I said, “Okay. I’m here. I’ll try it.” He led me through a prayer and it was an absolution. It was the sacrament of penance or reconciliation. I had such a profound experience of being loved and cared for and forgiven for everything I’ve done and for being able to forgive myself and to let it go. That changed my life.

You need to be able to forgive yourself and to feel forgiven and loved by God.

Here I am, I just finished my junior year in college and this whole world opens up. Everything that I was looking at doing before didn’t seem to have any importance. I pursued this relationship with this God, which was different than this relationship with the Roman Catholic Church. What I found was, I needed to change and alter my relationships. Not only with myself, with God but the created world and with other people because I was out of balance. I was out of sync. I was not in a place of homeostasis. As we think about talking and trying to center ourselves, that led me to reading, prayer, retreats and trying to figure out what this spiritual path was. It ultimately led me to this combination of joining this Catholic religious order group here in Michigan.

I spent a couple of years in Michigan and they had me moved down to Cincinnati, where I continued in this process and this training. I never made it to the seminary part where you study theology and become ordained. I opted out for a lot of different reasons. I became engaged to a woman that I met after I left. She was Southern Baptist and I was still a Roman Catholic. As we dated and continued to fall in love and decided that we wanted to make a life together, we had to find a religious tradition, a home. I didn’t like going to the Baptist Church. She didn’t care for coming to the Roman Catholic Church.

We found the Episcopal Church and that was in Cincinnati. It was a freeing experience for both of us. We were both able to find parts of our tradition in that, both Catholic and Protestant. The people were wonderful and inclusive and welcoming of all people. Whether you were gay, straight, poor or rich, it didn’t matter. Whatever culture you came from, you were accepted. That taught me early on that, part of being in the right relationship with God, feeling healthy and centered was, how are we with other people? How do we connect with folks? How do we relate to them and what is our perspective on them? It got me thinking about this right relationship, perspective about life and with God. I started to pursue that in some time in the Episcopal Church. I then had to find a calling.

Prior to meeting this woman, who I’m married to, I was living in the Inner City of Cincinnati with a couple of Roman Catholic priests and they saw a need to start helping these people that lived on the streets. Back in those days, we called them SMD, Severely Mentally Disabled or CMI, Chronically Mentally Ill. These were street folks who lived in the parks and shelters. These three priests went ahead and they bought a building. They started housing people. It started to grow and it became a nonprofit organization. I started working with folks and seeing what their struggles were like. A lot of these folks had come out of the deinstitutionalization for people who had been in long-term psychiatric state facilities for long periods of time. They were trying to adjust.

As you know, the mental health field came out with all of those new drugs that people were able to use so we could treat people in community mental health centers rather than in the State Psychiatric Institutions. Things like Trilafon, Haldol, Prolixin and all of those other psychotropics were being used for folks. I became a case manager for these folks that were street people and connected to a mental health center. My job was to go into these state psychiatric facilities, meet with people who were going to be discharged and operate as a case manager. Find people, housing, Social Security entitlements, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps, all the things that they needed to do to be successful in the community.

I started working on those issues which led me eventually to move to a halfway house where I worked with folks who were not that severe and were not street people but who had other challenges. Your everyday run-of-the-mill person who came from a good family or a traumatized family who had been hospitalized but not long-term, that were coming and stepping down to a halfway house before they went back home or to their jobs or wherever.

I worked with the director of that halfway house, who was a Licensed Professional Counselor. I liked her skill set and how she worked with people. I went ahead and I said, “I want to be like her.” I found a program at the University of Cincinnati in Mental Health Counseling and jumped in. I got a Master’s degree and graduated in ’91 and started working as a therapist. I was trained with a DSM-III-R, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 3rd Edition Revised. That was an eye-opening experience for me because all of a sudden, they had these classifications of all these symptoms.

OYM Steven | Mental Health

Mental Health: What could be traumatic for one person may not be traumatic for another person.

 

If you met six criteria in this classification, you were then considered whatever the label was, fill in the blank. That never made much sense to me because I thought, “Here are people who are exhibiting some of these symptoms but what’s going on in their life? The trauma that they’ve experienced or the things that they’re encountering that are difficult?” What I found was working as a case manager, as a person halfway house, as a therapist, was that there were always two things that were a commonality.

The first was that they had experienced some trauma. We think about trauma as something very traumatic. Whether that’s abuse or violence, war or something big, for every person, trauma can be very different. What could be traumatic for one person may not be traumatic for another person. It’s hard to judge that but somebody always had something in their lives that was a problem. The second thing was their relationships were out of joint. They were not aligned. They were not centered in their relationships with themselves, other people, the world and with God. I tried to work with that but as a mental health therapist, you’re not supposed to be working with God unless the client would bring it up.

We could ask about certain things, but to try to work with them on their spiritual lives was a no-no. I was told I could never do that and that was difficult for me. I had to monitor their medication, go in with a psychiatrist and report back. It was always a medication checkup or alteration and trying to get the right combination of meds. I saw that with adults and I saw that with children. A lot of these young children were put on heavy-duty psychotropics that were not tested long-term for children. It tore my heart apart thinking that these kids were taking these medicines so that they would calm down and wouldn’t be problematic in the classroom or at home because that’s what their parents wanted.

When in my mind, all they needed was to have their relationships with their parents or that they did or didn’t have straightened out and brought back to center with themselves, family members and teachers. Something was out of line and was out of whack. Rather than trying to help with their outburst in their behavior that they were reacting to something, how they were feeling things that they couldn’t articulate, we medicated them. I had a huge problem with that. I never wanted to participate in that ongoing thing. I struggled as a therapist in the mental health field because of that reason.

Halfway through my career, my wife, I told her I wanted to get back into the religious part of my life. I wanted to pursue ordination in the Episcopal Church because I thought that I could make a difference from a spiritual side. Having the skillset that you’ll learn as a therapist and through graduate school and practice that I could meld the two in a different way that I didn’t have to diagnose anybody. I didn’t have to bill insurance. I didn’t have to follow all of those rules with the medication and psychiatrist that I didn’t adhere to and didn’t like anyways.

When I went to be approved back in the mid-’90s, I was approved to go to seminary but my wife at the time said, “This isn’t a good time for us to move away. I just started a new job. Our daughters in middle school. We need to stay here.” I had to put that on hold. For the next ten years, I kept working in the mental health job that I had but it was waring. A tragedy happened and in our lives. My wife at the time was killed in a car accident and that led to some changes in my life and my daughter’s life, as you can imagine. What happened was, I started phasing out of the therapy because it was very painful and difficult. I went through a process of grieving and had my therapist to go to and I worked through that.

At the end of that time, I contacted my bishop and said, “I’m at a point in my life where things are different. I would like to look at this ordination piece again.” He said, “I’ve been waiting for you to call. I knew you would.” We talked and he put me right back into this ordination process. I had an opportunity to do my seminary training in Boston. My daughter was starting college in North Hampton, Massachusetts two hours from Boston, where I was going to seminary. I moved to Boston. We sold our house in Cincinnati and I moved there.

You need to find your center to feel the love of God.

That seminary training was amazing and immeasurable in my life because not only are you getting the theological training and history, you’re also working on your interior, spiritual life which is what I needed to do to right myself from the loss of my wife in this accident. I could see how people with a trauma like that can become extremely depressed, sink in, not be able to function and go seek pills to try to help them through this. For me, it was about finding the right balance again and being in the right relationship with God and my deceased wife.

Finding that and that’s what the seminary also helped me to do but what I realized in that was a lot of times, even in our Old Testament and Christian scriptures now, we see that the Priests were in charge of the healing, the medicine and the work with transforming and healing people. A lot of the dietary restrictions that we see were an attempt to help people with their diet. We’ve talked about diet all the time. Don’t eat this because this isn’t helpful for you. It can cause illness. It can cause sickness. Do this and let’s pray. Let’s do spiritual things.

As we progressed into studies in scripture, we had the New Testament. We hear Jesus is healing people through prayer and restoring them to the community was always there. Restoring them to right relationship with themselves, their families, their neighbors and with God. That was the key for me, in theology to realize that healing takes place with this. As you know and I know and most of our readers know that for many cultures and societies throughout the ages, healing and medicine were done from a spiritual point. They were done from the religious people in that tradition, whether they were shamans medicine man or a priest. It didn’t matter.

Whatever their religious rituals and rights were or for whatever society, that’s where people went when they were emotionally, psychologically ill and distressed. They would go to religion. That’s where it went, usually up until probably the enlightenment. We then had this outburst of technology and science and medicine in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries that focused on medicine. It shifted from theology, religion, and spiritual healing to harder science. We have to be able to prove it. We have to be able to measure it and see it. We have to do it through scientific practices and methods. We shifted how we do healing in our world from the religious part to the scientific part.

Let me interrupt you there because Dr. Michael Rice is one of my favorite teachers and he says, “It’s not that we shifted how we do healing, it’s that we shifted away from healing into treatment.” I know it’s compatible with what you’re talking about. That’s why I’m going to give you that little thing. We treat a symptom but we don’t do any healing. We don’t look at the whole person. We don’t look at, as you’re talking about the relationships with myself, friends and family, my community. I wanted to add a little clarification point. I don’t want to derail you too much from the path you’re on. We aren’t doing healing in the medical model. What we’re doing is treating symptoms.

Yes, I 100% agree with you. Thank you for that clarification. We shifted and so the pendulum swung from the religious, the spiritual healing to the treatment of symptoms focused on hard science and what we could measure and what we could prove. We drill down and as you know, there are many specialties. In medicine these days, there’s a specialty for everything. We now have a specialty for our brains where we think about our emotions, feelings, psychology and treatment thinking that this is a brain thing. We’ve now classified all of this internal stuff as brain problems or biological.

Being part of that conversation, is it nurture or is it nature? Is it biology or its context in an environment that causes our distress? We think about things in a different way than we have these relationships that are broken or severed or we’re traumatized. Does that create the symptoms or is it an internal something or biology in our brain that causes these symptoms we really can’t cause and show yet? As you know, our diagnostic and statistical manual for mental and emotional disorders doesn’t show causes. It’s classifications of outward signs and symptoms that you can see and measure and classify. What is the real cause of it? We don’t say that. We think it’s biology and we try to look at the science and the synapses. We try to find medicine to change neurons and messages and all of those things but is that really where it is or is it in other areas that are causing them distress? I think it’s something else that’s causing the distress.

OYM Steven | Mental Health

Mental Health: We need to talk about how we forgive others and how we’re forgiven.

 

As our treatment of these symptoms has been focused, it’s really been focused on there. I think it’s fascinating that this came about from the late 1800s when we were classifying people with different things like dementia, idiocy and it didn’t develop. Our first diagnostic and statistical manual came out in 1952. We’re imposing a hard science medical thing along with what then was probably the ICD, the International Classification of Diseases, the 6th Edition or so. With those two coming around the same time to say, “We’re going to try to classify all these symptoms and distress as medical things, as diseases. We’re going to try to work that.” I think that happened but that ICD manual started off the International List of Causes of Death and morphed into a classification system through the World Health Organization that we can all use.

It’s a classification of that in our DSM books. Now, we’re working on what V or VI where they conflict sometimes. It wasn’t until the ’50s that the International Classification of Diseases started to include these mental disorders, as they were seen. Since then, we’ve focused on science and biology. We’ve seen this influx of medication, as I was referring to, and that’s what our focus is. That’s what psychiatry unfortunately does. I know there are a lot of good psychiatrists. I know some personally who try to treat the whole person and do other things, which is great. I wish more would do that but there’s still a lot that focuses on the symptoms. “I’ll prescribe a pill and then you go away and I see the next person.” It’s where I think we’re missing the boat on this.

I want to bring you back to something that’s been stuck in my head. You mentioned that when you were younger and you were in your third year of college that you realized something was off in your relationships. If you had identified this, what caused such a derailing or a lack of connection in your relationships and what did you do to correct it? How does that work with how you’re working with people now as whole people in relationship with their bodies, minds, community, etc.?

For me, I was raised with a moral code to be a person in the right relationship with God and what I realized in college was that I was throwing those codes out left and right. I didn’t feel good about myself. I was doing things and treating people in ways that are despicable. I didn’t commit any crimes but it was a moral thing the way I treated and talked to people and how I treated and talked to myself. My expectations of myself were not being met. A part of that came from my parent’ upbringing and part of it was the center.

Part of it was what I was taught that being in a relationship with God meant and I was missing the boat. I just wasn’t there. I felt that I was not a good person for that. I needed to redo that and get back to that center to say, “Here’s my sense of self. Here is what I believe and hold that I need to do to be able to function in this world in a way that I felt good about and I didn’t get upset about.” I could have easily gone down and said, “I’m a bad person. I drink or smoke,” or whatever it was to numb those feelings inside about me that I thought were wrong.

Something about me wasn’t lovable, something was off. I needed to find that center again and to feel that. Once I felt that love of God, that I was okay, that I was a good person and that I believed that, everything changed because then I could work with my stuff and bring that into the right relationship with me and with others. I think our expectations are off all the time. Our expectation is here, reality is down below. It’s this gap that we have problems with and people experience that all the time. That’s a big part of where people get depressed because their expectations don’t meet.

Did you find a tool or an assessment device? How was it that you woke up and realized that you were so out of alignment with what your core values were?

There’s a power outside of yourself that could restore you.

Again, I was feeling miserable after my third year of college. I was telling my friend this and he is the one that suggested I come with him. When I spoke to that priest, he said, “How are you doing? What’s up? Why are you here? What’s going on in your life?” It was at that moment that I started spewing all of this stuff. It just came up. There was no tool. It was a question he asked. At the end of all of that, he said to me, “I think you need to reconcile your relationship with yourself and with your God. Feel forgiven and to be able to forgive yourself.” That was it. There was no paper tool and it was that sense of prayer and entering into that, that all of a sudden, I did. I felt loved. I felt forgiven. I felt like I forgave myself for doing those things and that lifted this burden, darkness and this stuff that was going on.

It seems like it worked pretty well for you. You’re being an introspective person, somebody who likes to talk that he pulled the plug out and here came this thing flooding out. As you know, a lot of times we deal with people and they either aren’t as introspective or they’re not that free with their speech. What do you do when you’re working with people to help them explore what their relationship is to their values, to themselves and to the world around them? What kind of tools or structure or flow do you use when you’re working with people?

To be honest with you, I use the principles from AA, the 12-Step Program because in my mind that is a spiritual program. Bill Wilson and Bob Smith hit it right on the head in my mind. They didn’t focus on pills for people who were addicts or alcoholics. They focused on their spiritual selves and they were trying to write that. You look at any of those principles, they’re all about admitting we don’t have any power over alcohol but if you could substitute any word in there at all, I don’t have any power over my depression. I don’t have any power over my anxiety. I don’t have any power over my hallucinations. Whatever word you want to put in there, you can and my life has become unmanageable. I have to believe that there’s a power outside of myself that could restore me. I listened to where people are and I pick one of those tools, one of those principles, one of those steps. I’ll talk to them about that and we’ll focus on that. I never tell them it’s from AA. I’m asking a question just like that priest asked me and those are the principles.

Those are the tools that I use because it all leads back again to an understanding of the right relationship with God, however, I understand God and myself and with others. I ask for forgiveness and I forgive others who have offended me. I apologize to others whom I’ve hurt. I take that moral inventory of one of the steps as well. Those are the tools that I use with people and it becomes a very spiritual thing. With folks that are church members or churchgoers, the God language is easy. With people who aren’t churchgoers and who may not have that, I use the higher power or the language that way as well. That’s what I work with people on.

If you’re saying that, I would assume that you’ve come to understand that there’s a depth and a profundity to that set of tools that years of working with it leave you still exploring more. It’s an endless cycle of going through the steps. We have a lot of people that understand very little about it and AA and they say, “Take me through the steps and then I’ll be done.” Anybody who understands the steps, who understands this like any other good tool that I might pick up and use on myself, the next time I go to pick up that set of tools, I’m a different person. I have a different level of willingness to see the things that the fearful part of my mind has been blocking from me. It’s great to hear that you’re using that so well. Some of the most effective healers and teachers that I’ve run across have come through my office as “patients.” They are the people who have a high level of intellectual capacity that they focused on the twelve steps and applying them in their lives and then teaching them to others.

Those principles were not made up by those two founders back in 1935. Those are spiritual truths that had been around this millennium that they’ve put together and they coalesced. They did a great job with it because, in my mind, I could have a Sunday worship and all of these things fit into our scriptures and what our faith life is like. The folks in my congregation don’t realize it most of the time because I talked about it from a scripture point of view. How we forgive others, how we’re forgiven and right relationships but those are the exact same things that they’re talking about in AA. They are one and the same. In which context do we do it in and what semantics we use are immaterial. This doesn’t have to be a Christian focus and it’s not because a lot of people who aren’t Christian use these steps for AA. I’ve often thought it would be great to start off a worship service saying, “Hi, everybody. I’m a Christian and I don’t have any power. My life is unmanageable but I need to do some of these things to follow them.” I think they’re very applicable.

It reminds me a lot of Dr. Mark Hyman. He was an MD and then he had some serious physical ailments that nothing in the medical field could treat. That led him on a search for something outside the traditional medical model and he found health. He found that if you start treating the whole person, there’s a very different result than if you’re chasing symptoms. He said in an interview once that we understand what it takes to live a healthy happy human life. It isn’t just food and water and shelter and sleep. It’s also a sense of purpose, connection, and community, a sense of love, these things as a whole picture.

OYM Steven | Mental Health

Mental Health: If you think this life is all that there is, you’ll live in a world of hurt.

 

When you start helping people, look at their relationship to each of these different areas. Now, you’ve got a whole range of places where you can make an intervention, just a little tweak here or a little tweak there. As you’re talking about, you get into that balance or that homeostasis. The idea isn’t related to the twelve steps or any religious perspective. It’s well-known and has been known for thousands of years that we aren’t flesh and blood. Simply supplying nutrients to a child and a newborn infant without any connection or physical affection isn’t enough to keep that baby thriving.

That’s why I think the pendulum has swung to the other side with this whole medical model of treating symptoms and it needs to come back. It needs to swing back to the center. I see it starting to happen with organizations such as Journey’s Dream and many other groups out there too. We’re starting to go back to look at that whole person. That’s why you see treatment modalities like mindfulness and yoga, and all of those things that try to get you in touch with your spiritual side and with your physical side. It’s not focused on those symptoms per se. It’s focused more on bringing us back to the center. There are lots of ways to do that. I think we’re getting there but I wish that more of us would be talking about this.

We come at it from different points of view, from a scientific point of view, because I know you have guests on your show that come from a real science-based but they’re seeing it like you’re talking about, and they’re trying to swing back. People from a more religious or spiritual perspective like myself and others who want to bring that back. We certainly aren’t anti-science. That’s not it at all. I don’t want to give that impression but we need to have that balance and that integration so that we can talk about spirituality and our relationship with God, ourselves and forgiveness, which is so important and how that fits into our scientific understandings of the things that we do.

Let me ask you, is there some aspect of the work you do with people, whether it’s from the spiritual perspective or the emotional, psychological, or relationship perspective that we haven’t even talked about yet that you want to make sure we get in here?

It’s about the whole relationships with people and church because I talked to many people outside of my congregation that says, “I don’t want to have anything to do with the church. I don’t believe in that and that stuff isn’t for me.” My point is you are a spiritual person. No matter if you go to an institutional church or a congregation or parish or a temple or a mosque, you are a spiritual person. You are living a life of faith but part of that is being in touch with something greater than yourself. If you think that you and this life is all that there is, you’re going to be in for a world of hurt, is my thinking. I don’t tell people that but we need to touch base with that spiritual side of ourselves. People who have fallen away from churches say, “I don’t agree with that at all.” My sense is trying to get them to understand that you have a relationship with God, with yourself and with others that is the heart of what our religious traditions do.

My goal is not so much to get people to come back into church buildings. My goal is to be able to help people see their connection to something greater, their God and their lives because if they do, and they can tap into that sense of love and that sense of forgiveness, their world is going to change. That’s where I think healing and wholeness and transformation come in. Folks that don’t have anything to do with church, I would encourage them to look at your spiritual side, talk to a trusted person that you know, that can walk with you on your spiritual journey, however, you find that. There are many paths. There’s not just one way, find that. Walk it, read it, live it and live into it. I guarantee you, it will be life-changing.

Thank you so much for sharing with us. I know it’s not what a lot of people would expect from our show but it’s essential for us as human beings to recognize this whole picture. I appreciate your willingness to share. I look forward to the next time we get to talk.

I do too, Tim. Thank you very much for your time.

Steven Steinberger-Domienik was raised Roman Catholic and after graduating from the University of Detroit, he initially pursued ordination in one of the Catholic religious orders. He decided to leave for a variety of reasons and found his first job as a Community Mental Health Case Manager working with homeless street people in the Inner City of Cincinnati. At the time, this specific population was labeled as chronically mentally ill or severely mentally disabled. All of these folks had lived a portion of their lives in a state-run psychiatric facility.

Steven went on to obtain his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Cincinnati and worked for fifteen years as a mental health therapist serving children, adolescents and adults. He believed that there was a better way to support these individuals and help them find healing rather than symptom management through the continuous use of psychotropic medications. Steven’s initial calling to the priesthood returned, but this time it was with the Episcopal Church and he did his seminary training in Boston.

It was here that he learned that the healing power of the Divine could heal the wounds of people who were experiencing mental health challenges rather than just manage their symptoms. No matter what the trauma, loss or pain was in people’s lives, a transformation could occur as the spiritual work continued. As a parish priest, he tested out this theory and found that as people worked to restore their relationships with themselves, others, God and creation that their lives were being changed.

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About Reverend Steven Steinberger-Domienik

OYM Steven | Mental HealthThe Rev. Steven Steinberger- Domienik currently serves a congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan.

Steven Steinberger-Domienik was raised Roman Catholic and after graduating from the University of Detroit he initially pursued ordination in one of the Catholic religious orders.

He decided to leave for a variety of reasons and found his first job as a Community Mental Health Case Manager working with homeless street people in the inner city of Cincinnati. At the time, this specific population was labeled as Chronically Mentally Ill or Severely Mentally Disabled. All of these folks had lived a portion of their lives in state-run psychiatric facilities. Steven went on to obtain his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Cincinnati and worked for fifteen years as a mental health therapist serving children, adolescents and adults. He believed that there was a better way to support these individuals and help them find healing rather than symptom management through the continuous use of psychotropic medications that the mental health system relied on.

Steven’s initial calling to the priesthood returned, but this time it was with the Episcopal Church and he did his seminary training in Boston. It was here that he learned that the healing power of the Divine could heal the wounds of people who were experiencing mental health challenges rather than just manage their symptoms. No matter what the trauma, loss or pain was in people’s lives, transformation could occur as the spiritual work continued. As a parish priest he tested out this theory and found that as people worked to restore their relationships with themselves, others, God and creation that their lives were being changed.

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