In 1985, two therapists Fran Regdos, MSW, and Sue Wisner, Ph.D. opened Emmaus Counseling Center in Redmond, WA. They were soon joined by Fran’s husband, Rich Wemhoff, Ph.D. The co-founders decided to call their practice “Emmaus”. The deliberative selection of this name was to symbolize the process and quality of care that they wished to provide for the clients who were referred to and/or who approached the practice to help them in their need.
The culture of Emmaus is first of all based on a deep and sincere respect for the value of the individual person and the ability of that person to have the resources to move through his/her current difficulties that have brought him/her to Emmaus. With this understanding, the therapist is then seen as the catalyst and/or a fellow traveler with that individual at that particular point of his/her life. This respect for the individual also exists among the staff where there is respect for each other as individuals and for the unique gifts that each therapist and staff members brings to Emmaus.
Emmaus is grounded in an understanding that the individual is a physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual human being. Consequently, the approach to the treatment of that individual is a holistic approach which in many instances involves a collaborative approach between the therapists at Emmaus and other experts outside of Emmaus. For this reason, with the permission of the client, the therapists at Emmaus are oftentimes in communication with individuals outside of Emmaus which could include, for example, the client’s family members, physician, psychiatrist, physical therapist, and/or spiritual guide. In this way, the client is treated in a holistic and integrative way, rather than in a vacuum which ignores the other dynamics of that individual’s life and the interworking of those dynamics.
The story behind the selection of the word “Emmaus” (pronounced ‘E-may-us’): The word “Emmaus” has New Testament Biblical roots. It is the name of a village outside of Jerusalem. According to the narrative, two of Jesus’ disciples who had been at his crucifixion were walking back to Emmaus the day following that crucifixion. Understandably, they were quite distraught, depressed and anxious, having witnessed the gruesome sight of their leader having died the death that crucifixion entails. According to the narrative, a man began to accompany them on their journey, a man who listened to their story and who walked with them in their pain. In the process of the journey, they felt listened to and cared for by him and, at the end of the day, as they approached Emmaus, they invited him to have dinner with them and, in the process of eating their meal, they came to believe that this man was the Jesus who continued to live beyond the grave. And so, the image of “walking with” clients who are in suffering and pain is the image which has guided the work of Emmaus for the past thirty years.
Although it is a symbol that has Christian roots, it appears to be a symbol of universal appreciation, for persons of all world religions or of no religion have appreciated the story of Emmaus and the commitment to “walking with” them. Emmaus’ therapists are respectful of the individual regardless of religious orientation and, according to their ethics, do not proselytize or impose their values upon the client. For those clients who specifically want to see a therapist who is identified at Christian and who will work explicitly with them in incorporating their Christian values within their therapy we do offer Christian focused therapy.
Our therapists like our clients come from varied backgrounds and faiths but all share the value of “walking with their clients” on whichever path their journey takes them.