The Empowerment Center – A Place to Conquer Necessary Change
Raised in Marin County, Gayle Long was living a fairly traditional life. After earning an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Master’s in clinical psychology, she married, moved to the Midwest, and worked at a crisis center.
She moved back to California in support of her husband’s career in 1995 and has focused on raising a family here in Nevada County since then. Then, in 2008, after dabbling in real estate, she was introduced to mediation. It was at that point that she realized helping people resolve conflict and live more balanced and empowered lives was the path she was meant to pursue. Her passion for mediation led her to obtain a second Master’s degree, this time in counseling psychology. Last year, she opened The Empowerment Center in Nevada City, where she provides psychotherapy, mediation, and parenting coordinator services. She is also the president and trainer at the Conflict Resolution Center of Nevada County, a nonprofit 501(c)(3).
In this week’s “Healthy Options,” we share a short interview with Gayle Long MS, MA, LMFT and founder of The Empowerment Center, a place where she helps people conquer necessary change.
Q: Why do you love mediation so much?
A: Mediation is a very healthy, helpful, and oftentimes affordable approach to resolve all types of conflicts, including marital settlements, parenting agreements, family trusts, landlord-tenant issues, business dissolutions, workplace conflicts, and neighbor disputes—from easements to barking dogs to entire neighborhood association disputes and much more. Mediation, at its core, is a confidential process that involves going to a neutral third party who can help people come to their own decisions and form their own agreements. People can get stuck in their positions where resolution seems impossible; the mediation process helps them get unstuck. As a mediator, I help move people through the process, keeping it safe and confidential through active listening, reflecting without judgment, and asking the right questions. Oftentimes, being heard and understood is the first step to breaking through the barriers to communication and opening the doors to negotiation and resolution. It’s very empowering for everyone involved. The outcome is often better than either party imagined, which is what I love about the work.
Q: Can you explain the difference between conscious uncoupling as an option as opposed to traditional divorce?
Divorce by nature is an adversarial process. Someone has to petition and file a lawsuit against the other person, the respondent. That’s how it’s set up. The state requires certain paperwork, and when a couple can’t agree, they may turn everything over to lawyers who handle the process, generally at great expense. However, if a couple is in agreement that the marriage is over, they can chose to terminate their marriage in a respectful, positive, and constructive way. With the assistance of an experienced mediator, the couple draws up their own agreement. When people choose to consciously uncouple, I guide them through the process until they feel good about their settlement and the shift in their relationship. To further assist those who choose this option, we work with a legal document assistant who does most of the paperwork and filings that are required by the state.
Q: What is a parenting coordinator and who might need to have one?
A: A parenting coordinator is usually a therapist or a lawyer who has special training to help high-conflict couples who can’t agree on parenting issues. Parenting coordination focuses on the best interest of the child. When divorced parents can’t communicate in a positive and healthy way, a parenting coordinator can be hired to help them make agreements or, in court-appointed cases, make decisions for them. What many people don’t understand is that divorce does not in and of itself always have a negative impact on the children. It’s the way the parents handle their conflict that causes problems.
Q: What makes your psychotherapy sessions so successful?
A: My sessions are 90 minutes and often two hours when necessary. This allows time for the insight or catharsis that can occur around 60 minutes into a session. I also draw from a vast array of resources using props and worksheets to help my clients better understand the issues they are facing. I often lend and recommend books such as The Road Less Traveled by Dr. M. Scott Peck or The Power of Intention, by Dr. Wayne Dyer, which are classics, or Undefended Love, which should be required reading for anyone who wants to take their relationship to a deeper level. What people learn in sessions with me is that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.
For more information about Gayle and her work, visit http://www.GetEmpowered.net or contact Gayle at 530-559-1992.
Jan Fishler is the author of Searching for Jane, Finding Myself (An Adoption Memoir) and Flex Your Writing Muscle – 365 Days of Writing Prompts, available on Amazon. For more about Jan, go to http://www.JanFishler.com.
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