photo of Naomi Ruth Avril

Naomi Ruth Avril, M.A., LLPC, NCC

Since a young age, Naomi has been interested in pursuing a helping profession. Her natural disposition of being a strong listener and having an empathetic personality have always drawn people to trust and confide in her. She became passionate about pursuing knowledge in the field of psychology, and came across the incorporation of art in counseling, which added another passion of hers. Naomi chose to pursue her Bachelor of Arts in Art Therapy from Capital University, a Christian affiliated liberal arts college in Columbus, Ohio. If clients are open to trying creative approaches to explore thoughts and feelings and gain deeper insight, Naomi has seen how incorporating art in counseling has helped people enhance their overall wellness using artistic expression as an outlet. After receiving her undergraduate degree, Naomi decided to move back to her hometown of Ann Arbor and attended Eastern Michigan University for a Master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. At the same time, Naomi worked in the activities department of a local assisted living facility. While there, she saw a great need for mental health services for older adults, and became interested in studying and specializing in serving this population. She completed a 600+ hour internship with a hospice and palliative care organization working primarily with elderly patients and their families providing bereavement counseling services to individuals, families, and groups. She now specializes in grief and loss work. Incorporating spirituality in counseling is another passion of Naomi's. Each summer as a child and adolescent, she attended a Christian camp in Northern Michigan, which is where she first recalls feeling a strong connection to God while exploring and relishing His creation. Wanting to follow that feeling of God's presence in her everyday life, she finds new ways to seek that connection. The main way she is able to do this is in working and interacting with other people, particularly other people of faith. When people are struggling and going through hard times, it is easy to wonder where God's presence has gone. By talking openly and wrestling with hard questions, a healing space is created, and growth is made possible. Naomi approaches the counseling process with the intention of creating a genuinely empathic and non-judgmental space where she and the client work together in collaboration to improve the areas of the client's life that are being negatively affected. She is committed to the enhancement of the whole person--mind, body, and spirit, using an eclectic approach to counseling. She primarily utilizes person-centered, humanistic, cognitive-behavioral, and artistic methods in the counseling process.

Excerpts from an Interview

Q. Naomi, how do you find meaning in your work as a counselor?

A. I believe that connecting with people and forming relationships is the foundation of the human experience. Being present for someone who is vulnerable, dealing with heavy emotions, negative thoughts, and troubling life circumstances is a privilege and a responsibility because I am being trusted with the stories of that person's experiences, and depended upon to help move them to a place of healing. Working in collaboration with clients to address the issues that need work in their lives is something I believe I have been called by God to do. When people get stuck and need extra support to gain insight and find solutions to problems, it is my goal to connect, collaborate, and grow together in the process. As I am there to help clients achieve wholeness and healing, the clients are also there to help me grow and learn from them. It is through this beautiful partnership that I find my meaning as a counselor.

Q. Where do you find the strength to deal with other people's pain and suffering you encounter daily?

A.It is powerful to be present for someone who is suffering. Providing empathy and compassion to people in need is in part a trait of my personality, and also a calling by God. It is through this belief that I find the strength to do the work of a counselor. I also trust that my training in this helping profession has prepared me well to do this work. By utilizing resources to continue to expand my knowledge in this field and gain competency, I am better able to respond to the stories of pain and suffering that I am told without becoming overwhelmed. Practicing self-care is very important. I call on my own support systems through family, friends, and my faith community to uplift. I create art, and I dance. I read affirmations and say prayers that increase my positivity and renew my spirit. The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr is one that I meditate on to ease my own worries: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference". In taking care of myself, I am better able to help take care of others.

Q. How do you integrate the science of psychology with Christian values as a therapist at the Family Counseling Center?

A. I am interested in the functions of the human brain and biopsychosocial workings at play in our lives. The way our bodies function, the environment that we live in, and the cultural and social aspects that shape who we are can help address issues at play in a client's life. Incorporating a person's spirituality into the process is another tool for understanding their needs. By utilizing a person's values which might include their faith, the therapeutic process is strengthened by adding a deeper dimension of understanding that goes beyond the science of psychology alone.

Q. What do you say to clients who are not Christian who seek services from you?

Whether my clients are Christian, from a different faith tradition, or not sure what they believe, I welcome all people. I strive to work as a counselor who is open, respectful, and non-judgmental in my practice. If a client's tradition differs from my own, I take that as an opportunity to learn. I respect diversity in all its forms and will not let my differences stand in the way of a client's progress. I work hard to understand things from the client's point of view. While I do not impose my own values on clients, I do help them to clarify and articulate their own values, beliefs, experiences, and feelings.

To email office manager:
Family Counseling Center
2301 Platt Rd. Suite 10
Ann Arbor, MI 48104