For Jessica Murph, counseling seemed a natural fit for her personality. That is what led her to start her own counseling service, Beyond Boundaries Counseling RGV.
The Trinity, Texas native grew up with a mother who worked as a sergeant in one of the Hunstville prisons. It was a strict household, but as she grew up, Murph was able to explore different areas of interest. Her interest in helping people eventually led to her pursuing a master’s degree in counseling.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Murph said of her graduate training. “We were trained on multicultural diversity, including special courses on negotiating polyamorous relationships. It was a very diverse, progressive program.”
After her training period, Murph will be licensed as a family and marriage therapist (LMFT) next year. Beyond Boundaries Counseling RGV (BBCRGV) specializes in marriage and family therapy, along with individual and couple’s therapy.
One thing that makes BBCRGV different is that it works with the LGBTQ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer). During her graduate studies, Murph took several courses that dealt with counseling services for this segment of the population.
“I came out in high school, so I’ve been part of this community myself. I noticed that there is just such a huge need to serve this community because of society and the culture here. Working with the LBGTQ community is very close to my heart,” Murph said.
“Counseling a gay person, for example, is not significantly different than any other person. They’re dealing with the same types of stresses and pressures that everyone else does. There’s not a “gay way” for me to counsel them,” she explained. “But it helps that my personal experiences and training have given me a better understanding of their perspectives, which really helps in any situation where I can empathize with the person I’m counseling.”
Murph said for many LGBTQ, especially adolescents, teenagers and young adults, knowing that someone has similar experiences or has a welcoming experience can help them deal with other personal issues. “We offer them a ‘safe place’ where they can discuss those types of issues if they come up. We don’t push it on them, and it is never our intention to push them to ‘come out.’ We can help them deal with that pressure if they want to, and we’ll help them work toward happy, fulfilling lives if they don’t want to ‘come out,’” Murph added.
“I’m very person centered. If you tell me what your goal is, I will help you reach that goal. I don’t pull my own views and goals in therapy,” Murph explained
Beyond Boundaries Counseling RGV has been in operation less than a year, but the practice has already started drawing the attention of local school districts. Murph has been invited to make presentations to area schools about their unique counseling services.
“Some of the students are having a really difficult time. I other schools, they developed gay-straight alliances that help out those that are being bullied and tormented on a daily basis. I haven’t seen these here, but I think they could help,” Murp said. She explained that the development of community and support group networks have helped along the way.
Anna Cecilia Ortiz is the other counselor at BBCRGV. Ortiz started her practice in Mexico and specializes in mixed families, including divorced families and blending of two families. As Murph explained, first marriages are hard, and second and third marriages are even harder.
Murph does not work exclusively with LGBTQ clients. She works with anyone who needs help in reclaiming their lives from the pressures of daily life and special circumstances.
She can be contacted at www.bbcrgv.com.