In Times of Transition

healing place offers support services for those experiencing grief, much more

Emily Kuhn

If someone you knew was dealing with loss, like the death of a partner, a divorce, or chronic illness, how would you comfort them? You’d probably lend an ear if they needed someone to talk to, or a shoulder if they needed someone to lean on. You’d spend time with them, distracting them or commiserating when needed. Depending on the situation, you might even recommend they reach out to a professional for further support.

But what if someone you know was dealing with a loss of perspective? What if they were struggling to feel connected with the world around them, if they were struggling with anxiety and even fear?

“We’re best known for the work that we do through grief and loss that’s really the foundation of our programs, and it’s why The Healing Place was originally created.” – Amy Segerstrom, coordinator, The Healing Place: Center for Life’s Journeys

It’s no secret that these days, you’re as likely to look away from your news feed feeling anxious and uncertain as you are to feel excited for your niece’s latest achievement or your coworker’s new dog. But did you know that Eau Claire is home to a center that specializes not just in supporting individuals who are experiencing loss, but in supporting individuals who are seeking mindfulness – and all at almost no cost?

“I think everyone feels overwhelmed right now. Our brains are just on overload,” said Amy Segerstrom, coordinator of The Healing Place: Center for Life’s Journeys at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital. “Our programs can be a way to find calm and quiet, to reground and center.”

Until 2011, The Healing Place: Center for Life’s Journeys was called simply The Healing Place. Individuals dealing with grief and loss could use the center to find support when dealing with transitions related to death, divorce, chronic illness and disability, retirement, and military loss. In 2011, The Healing Place expanded its focus to provide support for people dealing with all sorts of life journeys.

“We’re best known for the work that we do through grief and loss – that’s really the foundation of our programs, and it’s why The Healing Place was originally created,” said Segerstrom, a licensed professional counselor who has been with the center since 2002. “But we expanded our service line because there seemed to be a real need for people to have help and companionship throughout other processes, too.”

The Healing Place: Center for Life’s Journeys offers support groups and one-one counseling for grief and loss, and a variety of classes and workshops that provide people with the skills they need to get through life’s transitions – whatever those transitions may be – successfully. Known as “heart-centered living programs,” these classes focus on mindfulness and meditation.

As a certified spiritual director, Segerstrom teaches a 12-week course called Living Mindfully that addresses the many ways mindfulness impacts daily life. Sessions focus on mindfulness and emotions, mindfulness and loneliness, mindfulness and perfectionism, mindfulness and self-compassion, and others. Upcoming programs include a one-day retreat titled “Open-Hearted Living for a Compassionate Life: A One Day Circle of Trust,” led by Dr. Laurie Hittman and Mary Peters, MS, certified courage and renewal facilitators. The center is also hosting a five-week “Living Your Life On Purpose” session about facing the “what’s next” question, a five-week “No Regrets: Living from the Inside Out” session about matching your “inside” values to your “outside” behaviors, and more.

“What’s really cool,” said Segerstrom, “is when we see the light bulb go on for people when they’re given the tools around mindfulness practice – you can see the moment they realize, ‘I can deal with my anxiety or depression or grief in a different way than I’ve been dealing with it.’ ”

Of course, the center continues to offer support groups for grief and loss, including groups for loss of a spouse, pregnancy and infant loss, suicide support, and a general support group called Stepping Stones.

Best of all, the cost of every single program offered by The Healing Place: Center for Life’s Journeys is minimal – usually free, and at the most, a small fee for refreshments or program materials.

“I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about The Healing Place – that all of our programming is free,” Segerstrom said. “We have an endowment that pays for our services, so there are no insurance submissions, no payment plans, nothing. You don’t need to be a patient with HSHS to use our services; you don’t need to be Catholic. … Sacred Heart’s mission is to serve anyone with a need, so we do.”

The Healing Place: Center for Life’s Journeys • 2125 Heights Drive, Eau Claire • (715) 717-6028 •