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The Apostle Paul said “each of us has one body with many members” (Romans 12:4-5). In a similar fashion, Willi Dalaba, LCSW, sees people composed of different parts that make up the whole. Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual all combine to make up an individual. A good counselor, she believes, may need to help a client bring into a better balance these different aspects of their personality. This is part of the theoretical grounding and expertise that Willi Dalaba brings to her years of counseling experience.
Willi received her master’s degree in 1975 from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania with dual emphasis in clinical skills and research evaluation. The Graduate School of Social Work and Social Evaluation provided training within a psychoanalytic framework. Her style, originating within this medical model, is one more eclectic and seeks to incorporate a strength perspective. Her interest in paying attention to spiritual assessment and development has grown as her own spiritual path unfolded.
Her initial work following graduation was with incarcerated adolescents. From that developed a love of working with youth and adolescents. “I can recall being a teenager, and it wasn’t all fun”, she’ll tell you. Since then she has devoted a lot of time and attention to children, particularly in foster care and those with attachment disorders. The last twelve years have seen Willi devoting more time to private practice with adults, couples and families.
Arising from her work with children in foster care, Willi became the founding director of HOPE (Helping Other People’s Enrichment), a nonprofit therapeutic foster care agency in Gloucester, VA. Since leaving HOPE in 2001, she has focused increasingly on using her clinical and counseling skills. Willi works with individuals, couples and families on issues that include the spectrum of mood disorders, grief and loss, with multicultural heritage and culture issues. She works with adolescents as well as those with geriatric needs, does coaching and counseling in lifestyle changes, and likes seeing her clients move into feelings of increased empowerment.
Willi is a long time member and past board member of the North American Association of Christians in Social Work (NACSW). She chaired their 54th annual conference, one focusing on international social work. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), traveling in 2006 as a delegate to a joint conference in Beijing between Chinese and American social workers. She is a certified domestic violence counselor as a member of the Association of Forensic Counselors. She and her husband Jack are members of Rising Hope United Methodist Church, a church devoted as a ministry to serving a homeless population. She is a frequent presenter at conferences and workshops and enjoys bringing her skills into play with a larger audience.
She and her husband have four children with family being important to them. In her spare time Willi enjoys cooking, traveling, reading, yoga, and listening to classical music.
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