I am glad you are here.
My hope is that our interactions can help you become more present, spontaneous and free, increase your emotional intelligence and relationship satisfaction. I counsel individuals working on a range of topics including life-transitions, relationships, emotional wellbeing, sexuality, gender identity, and recovery from encounters with charismatic con-artists, conspiracy theory subcultures, and groups with cult-like features.
20 years ago I read my first book about family systems counseling and it lit me up. Today, continuing education programs, reading, supervision and peer consultation groups continue to light me up, and most of all so does the living work with the people who see me in my counseling practice. I am a life learner and this includes seeking out counseling for myself at various times in my life.
My formal education includes a masters degree in psychology from the Counseling Specialization program at Saybrook University as well as a bachelor of arts's degree from The Evergreen State College, where I studied psychology, social psychology, democratic education, systems thinking, gender studies, and intersectional social and racial justice work.
I began working in a private practice setting during my master's level clinical internship at the Rainbow Health Center in Olympia, WA, under the supervision of Dr. Matt Goldenberg. Before that, I worked in community mental health and provided in-school counseling for public schools in Lakewood, Washington. I hold a current license to practice mental health counseling in Washington State.
A note on my interest in recovery from encounters with charismatic con-artists, conspiracy theory subcultures, and groups with cult-like features:
I myself am a former member of a controversial charismatic group many consider a destructive undue-influence cult. In the early 2000s I was also involved in a new-age global-conspiracy-believing subculture with similar beliefs to some of today's "Q-anon" adjacent subcultures. I know from personal experience that there is a great need for compassionate, non-judgmental, and well-informed mental health practitioners who understand the mechanics of groups that use coercive persuasion and thought reform to unduly influence, and understand the complexities of the recovery process from a totalistic worldview and environment.
In 2005, as a part of my own recovery, I decided to begin to speak publicly about my undue influence experiences. In 2007-2008, I worked on six multi-day interventions as a thought-reform consultant under the mentorship of therapist, author, former-cult-member Steven Hassan; in these interventions, we worked to share information about undue influence with people who had been recruited into destructive groups and relationships so that they could make more informed choices about whether or not they wanted to be involved. I have continued to study and share information and offer community presentations to increase understanding about undue influence in groups and relationships. In 2018, 2019, and 2020 I attended the special clinical mental health tracks at several undue influence themed conferences including the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA)'s international conferences. I continue to participate in trainings for mental health counselors via online trainings during the pandemic. While I do work with adult individuals about many topics, a percentage of my clients do seek me out specifically because of my experience working with other survivors of undue influence, including those born and raised in destructive groups and those recruited as adults.
A note on Influence:
Influence is not black and white, good or bad. Influence can be healthy; including when we chose to be influenced or to engage in a process of conscious change work, such as can happen in a healthy counseling relationship. Factors that I believe contribute to healthy influence include informed consent, transparency, accountability, and clear and consistent boundaries. Steven Hassan's Influence Continuum and BITE Model of Authoritarian Control are two of many great tools that offer criteria to help us distinguish unhealthy from healthy influence in groups and relationships.
My mission is to provide a safe environment in which you can grow, come to know yourself more deeply, and find ways to move closer to your goals. Theoretical orientations and bodies of study that influence me include solution focused, depth, family systems, attachment, social justice/anti-oppression/liberation health, client-centered, interpersonal neurobiological, cognitive behavioral, Internal Family Systems, integral, existential, and more. My aim is to employ interventions that work best for individual clients.
Psychotherapy works best when the goals are determined jointly by therapist and client. These goals can involve behavior, emotions, and self-awareness. Examples of possible goals include: improving relationships, reducing stress or overwhelming feelings, increasing presence, improving life satisfaction, etc. We will continually evaluate and revise your goals as needed. We may be an especially good fit to work together if you are motivated to create change in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and you see therapy as an active, collaborative process of mutual learning and new possibility.
As a therapist my intention is to always keep the cultural context of a situation or relationship present in my mind to the best of my ability. My theoretical framework for counseling is multicultural and relational because I believe that who we are, and how we have been socialized is a critical factor to how we experience our current cultural context and our mental health. I realize that my clients will understand their identities more intimately than I do and I welcome feedback about these pieces of my clients’ experiences in life and in the counseling relationship.
I am on an in-progress, life-long journey to understand the importance of culture, privilege, racism, ableism, heterosexism, gender oppression, classism, ageism. etc. I believe these social and contextual elements play an important role in our lives and relationships, the opportunities and liabilities we face, and our mental health.
I offer a free initial 15 to 20-minute consultation to prospective clients, usually via a secure video telehealth link. In our consultation, you will have a chance to ask any questions you may have and I will also ask you about what you hope to gain through counseling. The aim is for us both to gather an initial sense about whether or not we are a good fit to work together. To schedule your free initial consultation or to ask a question, you may text or call 360-207-1809 or email me using the form below. Please include your weekday day time availability.
My standard fee range is $110 to $150 per 50-minute session. I also provide a limited number of reduced fee spots below that range, contact me for current availability. I do not accept insurance. Clients enter a standard debit or HSA card into my secure client portal and it is charged at the time of session. Please contact me for more information and to schedule a free 15-20 minute consultation.
Call or text: 360-207-1809
Secure message: https://spruce.care/BenLucal
(Via web browser and phone/tablet app)
Benjamin C. Lucal, MA, LMHC
License #LH 61245714
222 Kenyon St NW Suite #6, Olympia, WA 98502
To set up a free consultation, contact me through one of the methods listed above.
I will do my best to reply to you within two business days.
If we have agreed to meet via telehealth, click the 'telehealth waiting room' button and write your name to let me know you have arrived and are ready. I will begin the session at our scheduled time. If you want to learn more about scheduling a session, contact me by one of the methods listed here.
Note: I am currently offering secure video sessions and depending on the current circulation of covid 19 I will also be offering in person sessions on a case by case basis. Contact me for more information.
My office is located in the Westside Wellness Center at 222 Kenyon St NW Olympia WA 98502. There are three doors facing the parking lot, please use the third door furthest from the street to let yourself in to the waiting room where you will find chairs to sit in while waiting and a restroom.