Episode 72 — Faith, Mental Health, and Impacting the Culture


About the episode | Listen to the episode | Meet Regina Boyd | Episode transcript


About the episode:

This episode features a conversation with Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Mental Health Counselor Regina Boyd. We talk about Regina's faith journey and desire to go into the area of psychology, her passion for marriage and family counselling, and what it's like to not only run her private practice but also minister to others through her digital ministry.

Listen to this week's episode:

Meet Regina Boyd

Regina Boyd is the founder of Boyd Counseling Services, a Catholic licensed mental health practice that provides in-person and virtual therapy for couples, families, and teens. She works with clients who are experiencing life changes, desire healthy emotional connection, and seek to develop problem solving strategies within their relationships. Regina is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Mental Health Counselor. She is a wife and mother of a delightful toddler. In her spare time Regina enjoys walks with her family, baking, going live for her Facebook and Instagram followers, and listening to Mumford and Sons.


Links:

Website: reginaboyd.com

Instagram: @boydcounselingservices

Facebook: facebook.com/ReginaBoydLMHC

Episode transcript


00:00 MUSIC

00:10 RACHEL WONG: This is The Feminine Genius Podcast, a podcast that celebrates all women of God and their unique genius. I'm your host, Rachel Wong.

00:20 MUSIC

00:31 RACHEL: When she was younger, Regina Boyd noticed that many of her friends would go to her for advice or counsel. This sparked an interest in helping others which led to her to pursue a career in the areas of psychology, counseling and therapy. Regina now is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and is the founder of her own private practice, Boyd Counseling Services. Through her work, Regina aims to impact the culture through strengthening relationships and bolstering love. In this episode, Regina and I talk about what drew her to the area of psychology, sharing her message in the digital space, and her desire to impact the culture around her through the work that she does.

01:28 RACHEL: Hi Regina!

01:29 REGINA BOYD: Hi Rachel! How are you?

01:31 RACHEL: I'm doing so, so well, thank you! How are you?

01:34 REGINA: I'm doing great, yes, at least as good as I can be in the midst of all this! But yes, good!

01:40 RACHEL: Absolutely, yeah! Well, thank you so much for joining me on The Feminine Genius Podcast! I was wondering if you could start by introducing yourself to our listeners and sharing a little bit of what you do right now.

01:52 REGINA: Yeah! So my name is Regina Boyd. I'm a Marriage and Family Therapist and mental health counselor. At least here in the States, we have all different letters and acronyms that can mean different things, licensed professional counselor. And yeah, I work in private practice, I have my own practice. We work with couples, individuals and teens and just really a lot about relationships and trying to heal, find healing in relationships, strengthen them. Yeah. So that's a little bit about the work that I do.

02:22 RACHEL: Awesome. And, you know, you alluded to this current time that we find ourselves in. I can only imagine that there is a lot of struggling and difficulty that folks are finding—maybe both physically by maybe not being able to go outside, but also mentally and how all of this has been impacting all of us.

02:41 REGINA: Yeah, for sure. I feel like what I'm noticing is just anything people might have been experiencing pre-pandemic, it's, you know, the baselines are higher, everything just feels a little bit more intense, a little bit more stressful, a little more sad, or just, anything that you might have normally felt it just has an extra layer or an extra edge to it. So absolutely, I don't think anyone's going to get out of this impacted on some level, whether big or small, or for better or for worse.

03:10 RACHEL: Yeah. So I am excited to dive into that as well as some of the different areas of practice that you do during your day job and in your life and your work. But I was wondering, maybe if we could start, to frame this conversation, by maybe sharing a little bit of your own faith journey and how that's come to play into the current work that you do.

03:31 REGINA: Yeah, so I'm trying to think of where I should begin! So my dad is Catholic, my mom is Baptist. And so growing up, they weren't on the same page about how they wanted to raise my brother and I. And so we just happened to move to Florida and they were looking for local schools, and they just sort of agreed on a Catholic school—not because of the faith necessarily, but just because they were impressed with the school education-wise. And you know, thanks be to God, was sort of sitting there in the pews like witnessing all my friends going up to communion and stuff and [laughs] I was in fourth grade at the time. And am I feeling a little left out and I'm like, you know what is this? [laughs] Like, I wanna receive communion! You know?

I remember praying that prayer, you know, "Lord, I'm not worthy... but only say the word..." and just truly desiring that. So I had mentioned to my parents that that's what I wanted to do and they said okay, and so they put my brother and I into the sacraments, you know, through the school there, thanks be to God. And I would say it wasn't until high school that I had maybe a deeper conversion experience, just an actual encounter with Jesus and really desiring closer relationship and deeper relationship with Him.

So we had a phenomenal youth group in high school. We got lucky, we had two youth ministers instead of just one, we had two full time youth ministers, and they were incredible. Very Eucharistic-centered style retreats, and just really put all of us in front of the Lord. And I remember as a teen just sitting there. You know, I think I had some, you know, spiritual experience on a retreat where I felt God's presence in a very real way. And so I was confident...you know, I had always believed in God, so that was an issue, but, you know, it was something different where I was actually having real internal dialogue with Him in a new way. But it was something I kinda ignored. Didn't really pay attention, didn't know, like, it was a nice emotional retreat and then I went on with my life.

But I remember recognizing the change because riding with my friends in the car after that retreat, you know, they start playing you know whatever popular music was at the time, and it wasn't the most clean music that we were listening to! [laughs] And I remember feeling kind of a grating in that moment. It just was very jarring experience to go from retreat to back in the car riding home with my friends, and like, listening to that. It just didn't sit right with me. So there were things happening in my heart, but I didn't have a name for it, I didn't recognize it. And then one night, one of the youth group nights, our... one of our youth ministers was up there. You know, she's just talking and trying to appeal to us, asking us to live our lives for Christ. And she'd been doing this for a while, but I remember telling God like, "I'm not ready yet. I still wanna [laughs] have a little fun." And in general, I was, I was a little bit of a goody-two shoes. So it's not like I had this really like extreme lifestyle transformation or anything! [laughs]

She's kind of preaching to us, and I'm like, "I'm not ready God!" and I could feel that tug. Then one day, at youth group, she just says something along the lines of "What do you have to lose anyway? If you were to really commit and live your life for God, what do you have to lose anyway? If you lose your friends, where they really are friends in the first place?" And something in that question just really flipped a switch for me, the light bulb went off. And I thought, that's a good point, you're right! My real friends are always going to be my friends. They're not going to discard me or care about me making a different choice of how I want to live my life. They're gonna love me no matter what, right, theoretically if they're my real friends. So that was kind of in a way like a pivotal moment where I decided and sort of succumbed to God nudging on my heart and Him tugging me along! It's like, "Okay, I'm going to give this Christianity a try. I'm gonna live it and see how it goes!"

So yeah, it's been a beautiful ride ever since, I haven't really looked back to college, pursuing the campus ministry at a college and really had a beautiful experience there with some amazing deep friendships and really growing and deepening my faith there. So, praise be to God!

07:51 RACHEL: Yeah! And the Bible verse that comes to mind, just as you're sharing the different ways that your youth minister was appealing to yourself and the youth group is—and I forget where in Scripture, I know it's in the Gospels, but you know, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but he loses his soul?" And I love that juxtaposition of how you're talking about having that beautiful experience in front of the Eucharist and then something as simple as listening to music... you know, it sometimes just plays in the background. And we don't even realize until you actually maybe tune in a little closer, that there is something deeper there that might not totally align. And even right in that moment, there was already a little bit of maybe Jesus, like you're saying, kind of tugging at your heartstrings and being like, you know, "You're you're meant for so much more." Even though yes, music can be so innocent and passing. Yeah, but that's so beautiful, just to see how He has really pursued you, you know, a little bit by little bit. And it just, again, reminds me of how He never forces or imposes. But really, He allows for us to come into that relationship with Him on our own, freely and openly.

09:01 REGINA: Absolutely. I feel like that's the theme of my spiritual life a little bit. He's always so patient with me until I figure it out! Yeah, and not to say that, you know, music is evil or bad or anything like that. It was just, you know I think, how He spoke to me in that moment. It was just something that sort of unsettled and caught my attention. Maybe it was maybe a symbol of going back to an old life versus a new life, or something like that, so.

09:27 RACHEL: Yeah! Now, you mentioned you went off to college, of course, and you pursued campus ministry, which I think is such a wonderful thing that you're able to do and like you know, thanks be to God that you're able to go to a place where there is that kind of community, because I feel like many times we go off to college, and it can be that make or break moment, I feel like, to really commit and buckle down to continuing to follow God. What was that experience like to be in college and be tempted by of course, following your career passions and all the other things that were going on in your typical college experience, and then to find God in the midst of it all?

10:07 REGINA: You know, I really think that community and campus ministry helped a lot. And I just had an incredible roommate, you know, one of my best friends. She is a practicing Catholic, also, so that I think in a certain way, you know, I was sort of buffered by some people around me that just sort of protected me, if you will, from finding myself in certain situations. But you know, I was at a very secular university. Lots of diversity of ideas and practices and minds out there. And I don't know if this is the culture of most colleges, but at least the college I went to, there's very much a culture of debate and open debate and ideas, you know, free speech areas and people protesting and, you know, tabling and trying to get their messages out and everyone's constantly in dialogue all the time, it felt like! [laughs]

It was really kind of a trial by fire period of where all of a sudden, somebody sees me, standing at the Catholic table or praying for you know, an end to abortion or something like that. And all of a sudden, I'm getting questions and having to respond to these questions and getting in conversations with people. And so it was really this great opportunity to learn more about my faith, what are the explanations for it to provide those answers. And yeah, and so I think, I think having that really strong sense of community helped me to stay strong, because when I had those moments where I was really nervous or worried, I had a group of people that I could go back to and just run a situation by them, ask their opinions and thoughts, pray, all those things, and that sort of kept me going. If I had done it by myself, I don't know how I would have been able to get through.

11:57 RACHEL: Yeah. And then when you were in college—'cause I know that we're going to segue into obviously, your professional life and the work that you do—did you go in with the intention of studying psychology and counseling? Or what was that trajectory like?


12:12 REGINA: Yeah, so growing up, I was kind of a kid that people would randomly share their stories with, without me expecting it. So you know, we're hanging out at recess or something and then all of a sudden, I have a peer or classmate opening up to me and I was like, "Oh, I thought you're just hanging out. I wasn't expecting to hear about, you know, your family situation!" So I think the Lord planted some seeds over time in that way and that was a gift I learned that I had, probably around middle school, early high school is when I started getting interested in psychology, why do people do what they do, what is that about? So by the time I went to college, I was pretty set on wanting to pursue psychology, I wasn't sure what that was like. And I actually wasn't aware that you would need further education after the bachelor's degree to become a psychologist! [laughs] That was something nobody told me! But that was the desire, yeah, I just really was interested in it and thought it would be really fun to study which I did, I did enjoy.

Over time, my desires of what that would look like. That idea of journeying with people one on one in such an intimate, personal way was really attractive to me. And I just really wanted to help people and that seemed like a vision of how to do that. By the time I applied to graduate school in the counseling program, I was more focused on marriage counseling, and helping the institution of marriage. You know, thinking about [St.] John Paul II and how he says, "As the family goes, so goes the nation and the whole world with which we live." And so that was sort of my motivation going to grad school. Well, if I can help marriages, if I can do one small thing to a one family or rebuild or connect, then that impacting the culture in a larger way. The reverberations for that are unseen. It was kind of a lot of in between that [laughs] but more or less the I pretty much knew that that was what I wanted to do, but it didn't end up working out exactly the way I thought it would, because I had to go to more schooling after! [laughs]


14:24 RACHEL: Yeah, I love what you're talking about there, that motivation that you had to pursue this particular area of marriage counseling, and I would assume that this maybe also feeds into family counseling as well. Just this idea that really our homes and our families are that first unit that can, you know, if we can really have a positive culture in the family, that has dramatic impacts for how the culture is outside of us. And we can expect to change the culture if we don't change first inside of us, and then our immediate families.


And this makes me want to jump back to something that you'd mentioned earlier about how your college, those early days during your undergrad, how there was so much dialogue. And something like the culture of family is something that is very traditional, definitely Catholic, for sure, in a time where divorce and many people point to like, "Okay, well, if you're not happy in the marriage, then what's the point? Just leave or take your love, or your happiness somewhere else where you can maybe, quote unquote, thrive?" So obviously, very polarizing and different ways of approaching it. And I'm curious to know, maybe earlier on like, you didn't necessarily have that focus of marriage, right then and there, but how are you able to navigate maybe the culture that you were in at your university, as well as reconciling that with your faith and what it is that you grew up learning?


15:51 REGINA: Yeah, you know, I think I just really had a beautiful gift in my parents and their own marriage of loving each other and loving my brother and I growing up. And so I think because of their example, it was very easy for me, in a sense, you know, once the Lord came knocking, you know? I think it was very easy for me to believe in a God who was loving just because of my parents example and to accept that. And I watched a lot of pain of my friends growing up in their parents divorced, and it was awful to see them go through that to see their siblings and the changes that happened after their parents divorce. And you know, as a child here, wishing you could do something more to help and not much I could do at that time, except to be a friend. And so learning over time that not everybody gets that same experience to grow up, and so I think that was part of my motivation was, what can I do to sort of help children be able to have that gift and that experience, because it is painful, it's really hard.


And I did go to a secular therapy counseling program. At least in my program, they were very good about having a multicultural dimension to the program. And so looking at all those angles of the families we worked with, the clients we were with and how can you connect with their worldview, to help bring about their healing. So for example, you know, just as an extreme example, if I were to go to some remote village, on the plains of Australia or something, if I come in with my American/US worldview, and start judging them of how their behaviors and actions are, that's really, you know, kind of ridiculous [laughs] and kind of conceited in a sense, and not helpful to the client. They're not going to be willing to make changes.


And so it's similar, you know, even somebody right down the street from me, maybe culturally, we might be similar. There's still things about how they grew up, beliefs and values that everyone holds that we should be able to pay attention to, and be aware of as therapists to help our clients find the healing they need or whatever it is mental health-wise that we're looking for. But I will say, there was still a lack there, you know, especially for approaching relationship counseling. I was not getting that same trumpet blast, if you will, of you know, "Save all the marriages [laughs] for the betterment of the culture!" I mean, that's kind of our role as therapists, that's our desire. But I think in the field, there are people who take different philosophies around that. I've heard of many therapists who recommended for people to get divorced and then I've heard of others who don't believe it's a place to say that and that they let clients come to their own, [the] couple come to their own decision. And so there's like a whole lot of options in between there. So yeah, all that to say is, I think it really depends on you as an individual and how you would approach your work with a family.

18:49 RACHEL: And just speaking of approach, I mean, like you said, you did your undergrad, you went on to do more school, and thanks be to God, like here you are. You made it through all the schooling. And I'd love to hear how you came to start your personal practice. You know, what those early years were like, and obviously, I would assume that given that it's your practice, you have a lot of say and control as to how you want to go about working with clients, your personal philosophies, your approaches to counseling and the different areas. So yeah, what was that like to finally start your own practice?


19:23 REGINA: Oh, yeah, that was quite an adventure for sure! [laughs] Yeah, I spent a lot of time in different types of work. I worked for agencies and doing home based therapy for families with children in crisis. So we were just sort of there, working in the home, helping kids be able to stay in their home [and] not in a higher level of care, like residential treatment or something like that. I worked in in-patient hospitalization settings, I worked in the high school for a few years.


And so I think it was about the time I was in high school, I had some colleagues who were doing private practice themselves. And we were saying, "Hey Regina, you ever thought about this? You should try it!" And for some reason in my mind, I had envisioned, you know, that would be something I do down the road when I'm like, 50,60 years old, about to retire. And I've like accumulated all this wisdom and wealth of knowledge and you have the right to open up a private practice or something. That was kind of like my random beliefs in my head about that. And so I just had some people that saying you should try it. So that last year I was in high school, I decided to do it on the side, and this new clients in the evenings and just sort of test the waters and see if I really liked it.

But I'll agree with you, I think all throughout those years, and those other places that I worked, there was a desire to be able to be more open about my faith in my counseling. So especially when I was with those agencies before, there were people of who I knew were people of faith and I was even afraid to broach that or, you know say, "Hey, me too!" or just have that conversation is because of my secular training and wondering, is that appropriate to include that. So it's really been like a several year process of me becoming more comfortable with having those conversations with people. And then when I was in high school that was a Catholic high school, so it was a lot easier to talk about the faith in that setting.


So there was a journey of becoming more comfortable with that, and getting an opportunity to test the waters. And that was appealing, you know, the idea of private practice and being able to say, "Well, there's nobody who's gonna fire me, necessarily [laughs] for...if I were to mention anything openly Catholic about it!" But even then, there was still some fears of what my colleagues locally, you know, people I went to school with, what would they think? Would there be a perception of my level of professionalism? Because we are taught not to impose our beliefs on anyone. And so, would they have a question about how far am I crossing that line? Am I crossing that line a little bit too far?

So that year that I was in the school, and sort of testing the waters, I ended up loving it and being more excited about it. And so, by the end of that school year, I knew that it was something worth trying and decided to try with private practice thing full time. So the Lord has just sort of blessed that ever since. And, yeah, it's...even in private practice, it's been a journey of integrating Catholicism more and more in my practice, but I just feel like it's been me being realistic and accepting the reality of who I am, and being okay with that! [laughs] And just giving myself permission to live that life, because it's really hard to do therapy and trying to separate that Catholic worldview, because it's just everything I am and everything that I live by this my point. And so it's really hard to pretend like that doesn't exist and only focus on secular things. It's so intertwined at this point that I really cannot not do it! [laughs] So I felt like in a way, it was easier for me to embrace that and I think it's ultimately better for the people that I work with, because I'm being my more authentic self, than trying to section or wall parts off, so.

23:19 RACHEL: And as someone who has gone to secular therapists, I think the reverse is true for someone who is on the, in the other chair, the client chair, so to speak! Just exactly what you're saying having to either section off parts of my identity, like my Catholic identity, or even sometimes, like I found that I would spend a lot of time in the session explaining or catechizing even! And, you know, that's not to say that it was bad and that the therapists that I had were bad, not at all. The secular therapist that I had were wonderful and I really appreciated their willingness to go that distance with me, even if it was something that was way out of their comfort zone.


But certainly, having Catholic counselors or Catholic therapists like yourself really is a gift because like you're saying you're able to be your whole self. And you're able to really bring together this area of faith and having that great sense of the Catechism and the wisdom of the Church, while also bringing in your own training and the many years of hard work that you've put in to study, like that's so important to be able to integrate the two and I really don't think that they should be or need to be separate. Of course, within reason depending on, like you were mentioning earlier, who the client is and who you're working with. But if you are working with the clients, I feel like having that base level understanding and shared experience is so wonderful. And I can't begin to thank all these Catholic counselors and Catholic therapists out there that do what you do. So thank you!

24:53 REGINA: Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I totally agree about not having to translate jargon. I had a client once, you know, tell me, she's like, "Oh, I was reading the