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What is The Clinical Christian?

The place where mental health and Christianity collide. Melissa Richards, licensed mental health counselor and podcast host, talks with fascinating people who have diverse experience and expertise within the worlds of both mental health and Christianity. Guests include mental health providers, recipients, related professionals, clergy, and other really smart, life-experienced people. Nothing is off-limits!


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  • Meet the Faces of Mental Health News Radio: Melissa Richards, Counselor and Guest on Empowered Empaths

    Meet the Faces of Mental Health News Radio: Melissa Richards, Counselor and Guest on Empowered Empaths

    After earning a master’s degree in professional counseling from Liberty University in Virginia, Melissa Richards moved to Tampa, Florida, where she encountered a variety of populations and concerns in her many hours of training to become a licensed mental health counselor. Coincidentally, Tampa is also the birthplace of her first foray into private practice: otherwise known as Restoration Counseling Center. While she continues to practice today (though now based in Miami), Melissa enjoys any opportunity she’s offered that allows her to expand her counseling reach and notes the honor and joy she receives from “walking alongside so many hurting people.” That includes writing articles and speaking to larger audiences through various conferences or podcasts—and as of this summer, it also includes joining the Mental Health News Radio Network team.

    You may have caught Melissa on one of MHNR’s weekly Empowered Empaths show, along with Kristin Sunanta Walker and counselor Melanie Vann. (She’s now become a regular guest.) Melissa also cohosted the recent NCAD conference with Kristin. Just exactly what roles lie ahead with Melissa at MHNR remains to be seen, but she maintains she’s excited for any and all opportunities here: “I’m up for the adventure!”

    Keep reading for more into what led Melissa to counseling, the role faith plays in her personal and professional life, and her most unusual obsession with pearly whites.

    Enjoy the podcasts where Melissa’s voice has become an integral part of our shows:

    05/12/16 Up Close and Personal: Melissa Richards Talks Narcissistic Personality Disorder

    05/19/16 Empowered Empaths: Sexual Energy and Body Objectification

    05/23/16Empowered Empaths: The Empathic Male and Predatory Female Relationship

    06/01/16 Empowered Empaths: Narcissistic Shunning and Shaming with Melissa Richards

    06/13/16 Counselor Melissa Richards Talks Eating Disorders on Mental Health News Radio

    06/29/16 Empowerd Empaths: Melissa Richards and Melanie Vann Talkin’ Narcissistic Wounds

    08/03/16 Empowered Empaths: The Excitement of Real Love vs. Toxic Love

    08/03/16 Not Your Typical Talk About Misogyny: Part I

    08/03/16 Not Your Typical Talk About Misogyny: Part I

    08/11/16 Empowerd Empaths: News and What Are Personality Disorders?


    09/01/16 Empowered Empaths: Trauma, Narcissism, and Sexual Dysfunction

    09/08/16 Empowered Empaths: What Happens After No Contact from a Narcissist

    09/15/16 Empowered Empaths: What the Heck is a Healthy Boundary?

    09/25/16 Empowered Empaths: Whose Feelings Are These?

    10/02/16 Empowered Empaths: What Is Reciprocity In Relationships?

    11/12/16 Empowered Empaths: Narcissism and Addiction

    11/13/16 Empowered Empaths: The Narcissistic Family System

    11/14/16 Empowered Empaths: Extreme Self-Care After Emotional Abuse

    12/12/16 Empowered Empaths: Narcissism and The Dominant Personality

    12/13/16 Empowered Empaths: Depression and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

    12/29/16 Empowered Empaths: Compassion and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

    12/29/16 Empowered Empaths: Learning How to Define Yourself, Yourself

    1/5/17 Empowered Empaths: Narcissists at Work – Personality Toxins in the Workplace

    1/5/17 Empowered Empaths: Getting Rowdy About Shame Spirals and Narcissism

    MHNR: Do you have a personal connection to mental health topics? From where (and when) does your passion for behavioral health topics stem?

    Richards: A passion for people has long been a companion of mine, and caring for them in a professional capacity makes my heart sing.  It is in my DNA to find fulfillment in encouraging, challenging, and nurturing others. God designed me to walk alongside those who are hurting, and it is my great delight to do so.

    For me, counseling is one of those things in life that “just makes sense.” I have known since 11th grade in high school that I would be a therapist. While my professional training assists me immensely in counseling others, my own history of eating disorders, codependency, anxiety, grief, and narcissistic abuse have all offered a personal connection to those who suffer with the same.

    MHNR: Are there any behavioral health “soft spots” that you most love talking about? If so, what are they and why are they so close to your heart?

    Richards: I really enjoy helping people with whatever issue ails them, which is what private practice allows me to do and why I love it so much. But I’d say some of my soft spots in the past have been adult adoptees, identity/image issues, and codependency. Today I probably spend more time on eating disorders, narcissistic abuse, grief, and trauma. Though it’s hard to say which I like more.

    MHNR: What was your anticipated role when you first joined the team?

    Richards: I was invited as a one-time guest speaker, just sharing my own personal experiences with narcissists, along with some clinical insight. When Kristin and I hit it off so well, she invited me to come back anytime. We’ve been having a blast ever since!

    MHNR: Most important or otherwise beloved topic you’ve helped spread awareness on—and why?

    Richards: Narcissistic abuse—because it’s so devastating and so hidden. There just hasn’t been a lot of information out there on the topic until recently, so people have been largely suffering in silence and feeling hopeless. I hope to see the legal system, churches, schools, and more therapists adapt to the new information that has and continues to become available on this issue.

    Also, there’s a lot that’s not understood about adoptees and their lifelong grief. Or about eating disorders and what exactly is the way out of them (as mere behavior modification is never a solution on its own). But more than spreading awareness on a particular topic is my passion for spreading a Christian perspective on how to view, think about, and address those issues.

    MHNR: Favorite part of working with the folks at MHNR?

    restorationRichards: We laugh. A lot. It’s like family, the support we offer each other. It also feels great knowing that people are getting much-needed help from the work we’re doing—and for some people, it seems to come at a time when perhaps they most need it.

    MHNR: Most surprising part of this gig?

    Richards: How much fun it is! It’s easy in one sense because it’s a pleasure, but it’s also been eye-opening how much work goes into all of it behind the scenes. Also, I love that there’s always more to learn. Every time I do a show with the girls, I come away having a lot more insight into whatever issues have come up (either those we anticipated talking about, or those we didn’t).

    MHNR: What’s your biggest aspiration for your role here at MHNR?

    Richards: To walk through whatever door God opens for me. Perhaps to interview and host people on a number of counseling-related topics, but to do it from a primarily Christian perspective. To reach that target audience since the mental health world has often been under-addressed in the church setting. I feel they would be better equipped if information was put out in a way the Church would receive it.

    MHNR: What’s something most readers (or listeners) might be surprised to learn about you?

    Richards: I’m obsessed with teeth. It’s a real issue. I dream about getting veneers or dentures one day so they will be perfect. Ridiculous, really! Most people have fat days. On my bad days, I feel like my teeth aren’t right and bemoan them endlessly in the mirror—nevermind that I had braces and they’re probably pretty good teeth by most standards.

    MHNR: What brings you joy, both inside and outside of your professional pursuits?

    Richards: Jesus! Coffee, laughing with friends, long insightful conversations, adventure (as long as it’s planned), learning new things, as well as singing and dancing (although I am terrible at both!).

    MHNR: And lastly, what would you most like readers (or listeners) to know about who you are and what you seek to accomplish in your role with MHNR and more broadly in your career?

    Richards: I just want to help people. They are God’s entire heart. I love helping people see their own patterns, understand how God sees them, and learn new ways to truly heal and grow and see the progress they’re capable of. While I adore the one-on-one atmosphere of the counseling office, it has occurred to me that the masses can be helped simultaneously in an hour as opposed to just one person. Even still, nothing can quite replace the intimacy of a serene private office setting with undivided attention.

    Passion for people has long been a companion of mine, and caring for them in a professional capacity makes my heart sing.  It is in my DNA to find fulfillment in encouraging, challenging, and nurturing others. God designed me to walk alongside those who are hurting, and it is my great delight to do so.  In life, some things “just make sense”.  For me, counseling is one of those things.

    After receiving a Psychology major and Church Ministries/Bible minors from Clearwater Christian College, I earned my M.A. in Professional Counseling from Liberty University in Virginia.  My training as a student and state-registered intern was done in Tampa, Fl where I got experience treating a variety of populations and concerns.  Tampa is also birthplace of my own venture into private practice.

    Today, I continue to enjoy treating adolescents and adults for varied issues as a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Florida.  Although my office is located in Miami, Fl, I also see clients across the states via teleconferencing and video sessions.  In addition to one-on-one counseling, I also enjoy speaking at workshops and conferences.

    My specializations within the field of mental health have been developed through a combination of formal education, clinical experience, personal life experiences, and the experiences of those I love. I enjoy working with a variety of issues, and have a great deal of patience with the slow and sometimes uncertain process of healing deep wounds.  My approach to counseling acknowledges the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual factors that contribute to a person’s functioning.  I find that a comprehensive approach addressing the multidimensional nature of people and relationships typically yields equally comprehensive results.

    On a personal note, some of my favorite things include spending time with family, reading, being active, listening to soothing music, perusing social media, shopping (uh-oh!), girlfriend coffee shop dates, talking, talking, and more talking.  I’ve always had a secondary interest in interior design also; however, instead of rearranging objects and places, I help transform people’s inner spaces. While both require creativity and a vision for possibilities, for me, there is untold satisfaction in the restoration of a place, but even more so a life!

    It would be my great pleasure to meet and learn about YOU.

    “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.” (Ps. 147:3)

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  • Life Lessons From A Fern

    Life Lessons From A Fern

    I recently spent a long weekend with a friend in her new home. When I arrived I was thrilled to see all the beautiful trees and birds in her yard. Majestic live oaks and tall pine trees; cardinals and blue jays – I was in my element. I quickly spotted one of my favorite plants covering the sturdy branches of a very old live oak tree – the resurrection fern.  Recent rains had brought many of these little ferns back to life after a dry winter.

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  • Mental Illness and Stigma

    Mental Illness and Stigma

    I have bipolar disorder (manic depressive illness) and am very open and transparent about it. It is not a character defect it is a brain illness. Yet, still society looks upon mental illness with condescension and judgment. This is wrong.

    While I realize that I may not be able to change the world by writing one blog, I can try to change some of that stigma by sharing some of my own thoughts – from the perspective of someone who has a mental illness.

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  • Riding the Tides of Bipolar Disorder

    Riding the Tides of Bipolar Disorder

    I have been fascinated with the sea for as long as I can remember. So much so, that at the age of 4, I proclaimed to my dad that I would be a marine biologist when I grew up. I am not sure that he remembered that moment, but my proclamation became a reality by the time I was 21.

    The ocean is rich in every way imaginable, but lately; it has been the cyclical tides that have me the most captivated. What a better way to describe the shifting moods of bipolar disorder; the mental illness that I live with daily?

    Listen to the show!

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  • Big Little Things

    Big Little Things

    Losing someone you love is hard. Maybe that’s not a profound statement but it is no less true. If you have not lived through the loss of a loved one, it’s difficult to wrap your mind around just how hard it can be.

    Over the past 5 years, I have experienced loss – a lot of it. It started with the death of my dog, Hattie, then my dog, Davis, and then my cat, Riah. Some may say, rightly so, that the death of a pet is different than the death of a person. Nevertheless, it is where my journey with grief began.

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  • Christianity and Depression: An Insider’s View

    Christianity and Depression: An Insider’s View

    I thought I knew depression, because I had experienced it most of my life.  In retrospect, I can say that I had “head” knowledge but I did not truly understand what it meant to be in the grip of deep depression.

    Ironically, only a few months prior, a woman in my church requested that I come visit her in her home; she was suffering from clinical depression. In retrospect, I realize that what I thought were encouraging words were likely the same empty words that have been spoken to me during my own struggles with depression. “Keep praying.” “Trust the Lord.” “He will bring you through this.” The implication was that if she just had enough faith, God would fix it. I was wrong.

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  • Christianity and Mental Health: Truth and Transparency

    Christianity and Mental Health: Truth and Transparency

    It seems fitting to start this blog on the premise of honesty and transparency. Those things are, after all, what God desires from each of us. We often forget that even though God DESIRES these things from us, the reality is that He does not NEED them. He is the one that already knows us better than we know ourselves. He does not require honesty and transparency to help Him understand us, but He will do powerful things when they are at the forefront of our lives – every part.

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    Our Crew

    Melissa Richards

    Melissa Richards

    Show Host & Creator of The Clinical Christian

    Melissa, affectionately known as “Meli Poppins”, is a licensed mental health counselor and podcast host of The Clinical Christian. She loves her sun umbrella, sweet potatoes, her Creative Director (xoxo), and Jesus. Melissa is a teeth-obsessed “no-nonsense” kind of girl who likes to laugh a lot along the way.

    Nicolás Valerga

    Nicolás Valerga

    Marketing & Creative Director

    Nico, also known as “Cookie Monster” is the head of our Creative Team and manages our graphic design and social networking. He is well-known for giving the best hugs, over-delivering on everything, and doing it all with a great deal of Argentino pride (chamuyo). His productive hours are between 1AM and 5AM, and he is crazy in love with Mrs. Poppins.

    Molly Messer

    Molly Messer

    Program Director

    Molly, (aka “Molz”) is head of programming. She oversees guest retention and content for the shows in addition to editing everything with a fine-tooth comb. She is known for long, detailed emails, dry wit, bold advocacy, and eagerness to help. Molly is a brainiac extraordinaire who loves words, nature, science, swapping stories and her three-legged wonderdal Queen Victoria (“V”).