CURTIS

Name:  

Curtis Anne Moore (Named after my grandmother and great-grandmother; nickname “Cam” which I go by).

Age: 64

Born and raised: Charles Town, WV

Currently live: Nitro, WV

Pets: Maggie – terrier mix

Bentley – chihuahua mix (both rescues)

Do you have a place where you feel happiest? Where is it?

I love being in the woods – most any woods in any season. I grew up in a rural area and we often played in the woods and just generally spent a lot of time outdoors. The times I have felt the happiest have been in the woods, by a stream. The sounds of the water and the rustling trees has always soothed me. I even have a sticker on my car of a John Muir quote – “Into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul.”

I feel like everyone, whether they know it or not, is driven by a question, and their life is lived in service of answering it. Do you have thoughts about this? Do you agree? Disagree?

I do agree as it has been true for me. However, I fear too many people are unaware of their question(s) because they are too busy just trying to survive.

I have spent so much of my life asking questions of both myself and my clients that I am inclined to think another question I have been trying to answer is “what is the real question?” I think the answers can only come when we figure out the right questions.

In Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, there is a technique called the vertical (or downward) arrow. Simply put, it’s a process that asks the repetitive question of “if ___ is true, what would that mean to me?” then repeating that same question after every answer. Eventually we get to the bottom, to the core belief that is holding us back. From there, the work is to build back up to a healthier perspective.  Without the right questions, we can’t find the right answers.

If you do agree, what is the question your life is trying to answer?

My question has been “why am I the way I am?” I struggled emotionally as an adolescent as I was figuring out my identity. Then, as a young adult I had a series of unsuccessful relationships. In the early 90’s I stumbled across the book REINVENTING YOUR LIFE by Jeffrey Young and Janet Klosko.  This was the first time I read something that started answering my question.  I went to therapy for the first time then and twice thereafter to work through family issues that I had learned influenced the kinds of relationships I was struggling with. By the time I met my wife 16 years ago, I had figured out quite a bit about myself. But, in true fashion of how the universe seems to work, the concept of childhood emotional neglect recently dropped in my lap and reminded me I still have not fully answered my question. I guess that could mean there is no final answer, that this is a journey and not a destination.

Growing up, did you have siblings? Did you get along? Where did you fall in birth order?

I am the youngest of 3 children in my family. I was born on my sister’s 7th birthday and was told she was excited that day, but not so much after she figured out I was sticking around! I also have a brother 4 years older than me. We all got along for the most part, only fighting occasionally. However, we were not close. I shared a room with my sister until she was a teenager, so I was just the annoying little sister. For some reason, I don’t remember much about my brother.

I spent most of my time alone or with my parents, but felt closer to my father than anyone. Unfortunately, there was a lot of alcohol use in our home and extended family. My mother had the most obvious “problem”, so as was common in their generation, real communication took a backseat. Consequently, we didn’t learn to talk about difficult issues or feelings, so it kept our relationships superficial.

Do you have a singular passion?

Not really! I’m a true Gemini, so I have passions in different parts of my life and they have shifted and changed over time!

I am a recently retired mental health counselor (LPC), but still work a few hours a week for my previous employer, providing mentoring and training. In pondering this question it became clear to me my passion around work has been, and still is, twofold. First, since my introduction to schema therapy in the early ‘90’s, I came to believe in what is now referred to as functional psychotherapy. This approach focuses on discovering the root cause(s) of mental illness and uses an integrated approach to treatment. The more I helped my clients answer their “why” questions, the more I saw them begin to heal. Self understanding and self-compassion are critical components to healing. It was, and still is, my passion to share this perspective with other counselors, challenging them to do the deep work with their clients for longer lasting, effective change.

My second work-related passion has been to promote quality in my profession in addition to quantity. I understand successful businesses have to make money, but I’ve never understood offering poor to meager quality services to that end. The community mental health center I worked in had a terrible reputation in our community because we helped “those people.” It was, and still is, my passion to prove a person can get as good, if not better, quality care from our agency as seeing a therapist in private practice. Whoever said someone who has their own practice is automatically a better clinician than someone working in community mental health? It has never made sense to me, so I am still doing my part to change that perception.

My personal passion is a little more complicated. Two years into retirement, I’m still trying to figure out who I am outside of my profession. Last fall I encountered some serious gut issues that resulted in giving up alcohol and taking better care of myself with diet and exercise. It required a huge shift for me, but I’m happy to report I’m still on that path to wellness. Currently, my personal passion is to be as healthy as I can be mentally, emotionally and physically.

Do you have a favorite book or poem?

My favorite work of fiction is SIX OF ONE by Rita Mae Brown.  My favorite non-fiction book is REINVENTING YOUR LIFE by Jeffrey Young and Janet Klosko. Though I read a lot of poetry when I was young, I don’t recall a favorite poem but I have collected many quotes through my life that have guided me well. Some examples:

“I would rather a man hate me than overlook me. At least if he hates me, I make a difference.” – Hugh Prather

“I may have to keep some place where I can go to be myself now and then, for I cannot guarantee to endure at all times the confinements of even an attractive cage.” – Amelia Earhart

“On particularly rough days when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that’s pretty good.” – Vinny Genovesi

Do you, or did you have a career? What was it?

I obtained my Masters degree in 1986 in Counseling & Rehabilitation from Marshall University in Huntington, WV. I had gone to work at Prestera Mental Health Center in 1984 while in school (community mental health). I retired from my full time position with Prestera in 2020, but still work part time providing mentoring and training. During my tenure with Prestera, I worked as a case manager for seriously mentally ill adults, Case Management Supervisor, adult outpatient therapist, adult outpatient supervisor and finally Director of one of our county offices for the last 5 years of my full time career.

What drew you to your career?

I grew up with a father who dedicated his life to service. He went to college but left, enlisting into the Army Air Corps to fight in WWII. He then came home and worked in public service as a deputy sheriff and later in life as a county commissioner. I watched him help others my entire life and saw how others benefited from that help. As I mentioned, I was a Daddy’s girl, so it was no surprise when I went into the helping field. I knew I had found my niche in Counseling 101 so I was lucky to find my calling early in my life.

How did you find the how to live newsletter?

I stumbled upon your newsletter in my newsfeed on Facebook. I fell in love with your writing – so genuine and real! I love your topics and content because they relate so much to issues I’ve encountered in my work.

Why do you think there is such a stigma against talking freely and openly about emotions?

I think it goes back to an erroneous belief that expression of emotion is considered “weak.” In our culture, women tend to be “allowed” and expected to express emotion but are constantly fighting this perception of weakness. Is it the result of living in a largely patriarchal society? Maybe. Are men so threatened by women that the only way we can be silenced is to frame our emotional expression as weakness to keep us subjugated? Maybe.

If your question extends to the stigma against mental health, I think it goes to misinformation and a general lack of knowledge of mental illness. People fear what they don’t understand but the catch is, they have to want to understand. That’s where a lot of the problem is – willful ignorance.

What is one book you think everyone should read? REINVENTING YOUR LIFE by Jeffrey Young and Janet Klosko with EMOTIONAL ALCHEMY by Tara Bennett-Goleman a close second! Both of these books offer the best explanation I have found as to why we are the way we are.

If you were to meet your younger self right now, what belief would you tell her to let go of?

The belief I can love people well. It took me a long time to deal with my codependency and realize it wasn’t my responsibility to do the work for other people, but to focus on myself. Interestingly enough, I’ve found the more I worked on myself, the more I sought out healthier relationships. I no longer try to fix people and it’s liberating! “You can lead a horse to water…”

Is there something you’d like us to know about you, or life as you see it, that I didn’t ask? What is it?

Oh, there’s a bunch!

  • I am a singer/songwriter (more singer than songwriter these days) and recorded a cassette tape of several of my songs in the mid ‘90’s.
  • I came out as a lesbian to my parents when I was 16 (that would have been in 1975!). Though it was under weird circumstances, it all turned out well as I didn’t have to hide my life from them from then on. Now, I am in a wonderful relationship with my wife of 16 years (married 6)!
  • I am a “hawker/peddler” who has a booth at a local antique mall. My father was an antique dealer all my life.  He gave me the love of old things, so yet another way I followed in his footsteps.
  • I’m pretty sure I’m not done, that there is something left for me to do – I just don’t know what it is yet. My parting piece of wisdom is to stay open, ask questions and listen for the answers because they’re there waiting to be found.
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2 Replies to “CURTIS”

  1. What a wonderful interview, I love Cam! I especially agree with the point that clinic-based mental health services should be every bit as high quality as that found in private practice. It drives me crazy that there is (and I think it’s true due to the vast difference in compensation, at least in NYC) a two-tier system, and let’s add the paying-out-of-pocket vs. on-insurance-panels disparity, as well. We also need top-notch supervision in clinic and outpatient settings to receive the support and theoretical framework needed to do such essential and even life-saving work.

  2. Thanks Rebecca! Yes, there is definitely a two tier system in WV as well. The quality of services has improved vastly over the past few years because we have been encouraging staff to get involved Ed in certification programs (TF-CBT, DBT, PCIT, etc.). It’s made a big difference in staff confidence as well as competence.
    In WV, the requirements to become an ALPS (Approved Licensed Professional Supervisor) are pretty lax in my opinion. But, I’m trying to do something about that, too! 😉

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