Community Stories

Children’s Best Gift Is Healthy Parents

Leigh Willhelm was lost.

Somewhere over time, Leigh disappeared. She became someone’s wife, mother, taxi driver, maid, cook, caregiver, volunteer and all the other roles mothers play. She tried to balance work and taking care of their two active children while her husband traveled.

A perfectionist at heart, expectations were too high. Leigh felt she was getting everything done but doing nothing particularly well. In an attempt to be supermom, she eventually burned out. She struggled with depression and lost the ability to enjoy anything good in her life. Despite her knowledge of mental health and her experience working with depressed clients, Leigh couldn’t see a way out.

In desperation, she sought out a Christian therapist who God used to restore her joy and teach Leigh the importance of soul care. Of all the tasks and chores she is responsible for, Leigh learned the one thing no one else can do is make sure she is spiritually fed.

Now, Leigh is using her experiences as a mother, combined with two decades of counseling experience, to help women find hope and healing.

“I don’t think my story of burnout and depression is uncommon among women,” Leigh says. “We know the role of caretaker but forget to do our own soul care.”

Leigh opened Rocket City Counselor this year in downtown Huntsville, where her primary focus is therapy for women and children. She uses cognitive behavioral techniques to help her clients change the way they think, and in turn, change the way they feel. Leigh says perfectionists and high achievers tend to have a lot of critical self-talk, and she works to create a more positive and truthful inner dialogue.

Empowering Moms

Leigh Willhelm has spent a large portion of her career devoted to children’s mental health. In working with families, Leigh learned there are two groups of parents that really stir her compassion: the single mom who feels the weight of the entire parenting responsibility and worries if she’s doing it right, and the parent of a child with special needs.

Leigh says behind every kid with emotional, behavioral or social problems is usually an overwhelmed mom who just wants to be able to fix it. She believes parents are the experts on their child. Sometimes helping the parents is the most powerful way to help the child. Leigh explains when Mom is stressed out, burned out or simply worn out, it impacts the whole family.

“In our kid-focused culture, it is often seen as selfish to take care of yourself. I think, really, the opposite is true. What I’ve learned from working with children and families for the past 20 years is that the best gift for kids is to have healthy parents.”

Are you looking for help? Contact Leigh Wilhelm at (256) 665-9966 or email her at [email protected]


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