Debra has been involved in ministry since 1968, having begun working with youth ministries through the United Methodist Church in St. Joseph, Michigan, when she was less than 20 years old. Debra served in local, district, and conference programs, including having been the District Director of Christian Camping for Kalamazoo District of the United Methodist Church. She was the Chairperson of the Committee on Healing and Wholeness at Stevensville United Methodist Church and was instrumental in creating the first Parish Nurse position in Southwestern Michigan. Although she began her steps into ordained ministry through the United Methodist Church in the 1970’s, she completed the ordination process about 20 years later in a nontraditional program called Reunion Living Ministry, part of Reunion Church, founded by Betty Lue Leiber and Robert Waldon.
Debra is a Certified Healing Touch™ Practitioner. Recognizing her religiosity could be a hindrance to inclusion, and desiring to be effective and at ease with persons of all traditions and cultures, when Debra was determining what profession to house her Healing Touch™ practice in, she chose a program in which persons of varied faith paths and multiple religious affiliations participated. In July 1997, she completed the ministry program and was ordained as a Minister of Reunion. While not having an official “church,” Debra officiates at weddings and funerals, dedications or baptisms. She says she loves helping people create meaningful ceremonies for everything from the blessing of a house, to the ending of a relationship.
Debra was Founding Director of Holistic Alliance, a not-for-profit and tax-exempt organization (501 c 3) whose mission statement was “to foster harmony of body, mind, and spirit [as] a dedicated community reaching out with integrity to offer integrative health services, educational resources, love and acceptance to all who desire wholeness. We honor the well being and spiritual direction of each individual while celebrating the oneness of all.”
Debra trained in Prepare for Surgery/Heal Faster™ with Peggy Huddleston before going on to develop Imagine Healing and Using Guided Imagery for Surgical Support. She is licensed as a Master Practitioner and Trainer of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) through Dr. Richard Bandler and John La Valle, and licensed as a Trainer of Hypnotherapy through the American Board of Hypnotherapy (ABH). In addition to her private practice in St. Joseph, Michigan, Debra was the first nontraditional therapist on staff at Kalamazoo Psychology, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
In March 2001, Debra was privileged to support an extraordinary woman and her wonderful family through the completion of the client’s transition from physical to eternal life. Debra was influenced by this woman’s ability to move beyond the grief of leaving her husband and six year old son, and fully utilize their spiritual beliefs to make a conscious transition in the manner Native American’s would refer to as a good medicine death. Deeply affected by her experience, and inspired to support the husband of her client, in October 2002, Debra co-facilitated the first gathering of The Grief Journey: Love, Loss, and Going Beyond. The group was “for those who have experienced a recent loss, those who are having difficulty getting over a loss, and those who have reason to anticipate a loss.”
The personal experiences shared by the members of the on-going Grief Journey group, along with popular television shows such as John Edwards “Crossing Over,” or the true story of Phoenix, Arizona, resident Allison DuBois in “The Medium,” report encounters with the spiritual world. Whether wholly mystical or merely biological in nature, mounting evidence seems to be proving that love and connection and soul relationship does indeed somehow mysteriously extend beyond physical life.
Drawing on current scientific findings about the phenomena of nearing death awareness, including a new therapy for healing grief and trauma called “Induced After Death Communication” by Allen Bodkin, Debra says most people are comfortable as they overcome skepticism or fear when you are able to easily recognize all language as metaphorical. Using the language of mysticism and teachings on shamanism, and encouraging each person to recognize and honor one another’s experience, including encounters with nonphysical realities that are available not only to specialists in the field of psychic phenomenon but also to everyday people like you, many people in the grief journey report having a strong sense of the presence of loved ones following their death and burial.
Debra is a life-long resident of Berrien County, Michigan, where she and her husband, John, enjoy the beauty and healing of nature: birds, raccoons, opossum, squirrels, ground hogs, rabbits, and deer in the back yard, and the Lake Michigan shoreline and dunes. They are parents of an adult daughter, and three fantastic grandchildren, all living near Nashville, Tennessee.
Debra began consulting with Joel P. Bowman in 2000 and, she and Bowman are the co-developers of Subtle Communication Systems™, which combines conscious and unconscious awareness and includes the study of subtle energy and hypnotic language usage for personal healing and transformation. Debra and Joel produce guided imagery audios, comprehensive training manuals, and they have conducted workshops and seminars around the country through SCS Matters, LLC.
When asked how she got into the holistic health movement, Debra points to how your life is always moving you in the direction of your heart or soul, even before you have connected all of the dots. At the tender age of 5, Debra was taken to the hospital with leg cramps, and subsequently placed in isolation and treated for polio. At age 12, she had a near death experience as the result of an automobile accident. At the prime of her life she was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease. In Love & Survival: 8 Pathways to Intimacy and Healing, Dean Ornish, M.D., says “there is a time and a place for drugs and surgery. Even when these are necessary, they are just the beginning.”
Debra’s passion and respect for how emotional, mental, and spiritual dynamics, as well as the physical, affect each one of us has been fueled by those experiences in her own life. Discovering in 1988 that she had been misdiagnosed with polio 33 years earlier and thereby unnecessarily traumatized by the separation from her home and family was not only shocking, but also shaping. Receiving a bad hypnotic command from a caring but unaware doctor when she had been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, Debra was told that she would not be able to continue to work, would always have chronic pain, and would never have quality of life. Fortunately for her, she discovered the greatest truth of all: what is in the way, is the way. Although healing does not always mean a cure, healing is always possible.
Debra’s scope of practice includes those individuals who are making the first steps to integrate emotional and psychological and soulful meaning to health and well-being. She has worked with parents of children undergoing serious surgical procedures, individuals journeying through cancer or other serious healing crisis. The combination of her training and skills results in relief for those wanting to overcome anxieties, phobias, addictions, trauma, grief, bereavement, or loss. Recognizing that, at core, no one knows what is right for an individual better than his or her own self, using the resources from the individual’s unconscious mind, Debra facilitates clarity and peace during times of major decision and choice-making, including pre-pregnancy counseling, job transitions, relationships, and situations in which the preferences and desires of the person conflict with societal or cultural mandates.