Events and Updates From ...
Debi Russell, BA, Licensed Pastoral Counselor

A Tool for Change
                from Debi Russell

Is there anything more wonderful than a mind at rest and a heart at peace? 

In a broken world full of stress and worry, that can feel like an impossible feat!  Yet, the Bible tells us to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5); and, that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). 

For those who deal with trauma, anxiety, or depression, capturing thoughts is about as easy as lassoing a runaway bull or herding cats- overwhelming and frustrating! Many of us have a tendency to think in unproductive ways that produce a variety of negative emotions. For example: Worry is negatively imagining the future. Ruminating is dwelling on a negative event from the past. And then there are sinful thoughts like envy, lust, hate and self-loathing. These patterns of thought become so automatic we don't recognize we are in them until our emotions swell up, leaving us anxious, depressed, angry or hopeless. 

But there is hope! Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 to think about things which are true, noble, right, good, admirable, lovely, excellent and praise-worthy. But when your mind is engaged in the other kinds of thoughts what do you do?

"Thought stopping" is a way to disengage from unproductive thinking and move toward healthy, Philippians 4:8 kind of thinking. 

Here are the three steps:
1- Notice and name the unproductive thought.  "Oh, I'm ruminating about the bad conversation with my boss from last week."
2- Say "STOP" in your head (or out loud if you feel really feisty!) and mentally picture a giant stop sign. This is moving your mind one step- from a negative thought to a neutral one. This step is important because you can only hold one thought at a time so picturing the stop sign disengages you and allows you to shift to the last step.
3- Move on to one of three pre-decided, positive, good thoughts. These are thoughts you have chosen that you like thinking about. It can be a beautiful sunset, a happy memory or making a grocery list- they just need to be thoughts that are easy to camp out on in your mind. If your mind goes back to the negative thought, simply go through step 2 and 3 again picking another alternate thought.

Sometimes this technique feels a bit like tug-of-war in your brain but practice makes it easier.  Once you learn how to shift away from unproductive thought loops, there are great opportunities to look at underlying lies you might believe, or unresolved hurts that need healing that may cause those loops to occur. This technique is simply a tool to capture the bad.  Replacing it with good may take more work and more time, but thought stopping can be a helpful tool in getting there!

Debi has been a part of Branches for 10 years.  She works with clients in both individual and marriage counseling to facilitate their healing. She is passionate about women's issues, trauma work and spiritual growth. Debi is married to Scott and they have three children. When she is not counseling she enjoys writing and speaking; travel; hanging out with her church community and family.  
Follow her blog MILLINERY.

It's coming May 3rd !  The Big Payback , 2017!

Branches goal is $10,000!


What is it???  The Big Payback is a community-wide day of giving to non-profits.  The idea is that all the non-profits provide so many valuable services to the community and we should honor them by "paying them back".  Your donation can go directly to Branches! 

It's easy!  Any time during the 24 hours of May 3 (12:00 am 5/3 - 12:00 am 5/4) you are encouraged to give online at: The BIG PAYBACK Website  Checks are also welcome.  Please drop your check off at Branches or mail it to arrive by May 3.  Indicate "The Big Payback" in the memo line.  Our address is below.  

Why give on May 3rd? Organizers of the giant giving day are keeping track of donations.  There are special awards, prizes, matching funds, etc. that we might earn within that 24 hour period.

Why $10,000?  It's our 10th anniversary!  Any amount is appreciated, but if 100 people give $100 we will meet our goal.  

Why give at all?  Since the beginning our mission has been to see any client who needs help, regardless of their ability to pay.  Your gift helps make up the difference between our expenses and what we receive from client fees. 

Your tax-deductible gift helps to 
recover hope and restore lives
Like Branches' Facebook page now so you'll see details, reminders and fun Facebook LIVE posts!

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Thank you, Team NISSAN!
This group of generous, hard-working folks from NISSAN showed up at Branches to give our building a spring face lift! They raked, power-washed, trimmed, spread mulch, smiled a lot, and brought us joy! It was all part of the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon County Day of Action on April 7. Great appreciation goes to project leader, Tim Slate from the Smyrna Stamping Plant, for being a great organizer! Thank you to everyone who participated! We couldn't be more grateful!  
Christina Benefield, LPC-MHSP
Congratulations, Christina!
Christina recently completed all the requirements and passed her test to become a state Licensed Professional Counselor with a Mental Health Service Provider designation (LPC-MHSP).  She earned a Masters of Education in Professional Counseling with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Middle Tennessee State University.  She is a National Certified Counselor and is now licensed in the state of Tennessee.  Christina enjoys helping women with self-identity struggles and individuals of all ages struggling with depression, anxiety, abuse, and transitions in life.  When she is not counseling, Christina enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her husband and their excessively spoiled dog, a lab named Charlie.  

Christina was hired at Branches in December, 2015, after completing her internship with us in 2014.  Branches is proud of Christina and happy that she is among our great counselors in the Murfreesboro office! 

You can email her at
Pictured, Robbie Hooper, Pres; Dee Butler, VP; and Tracy Robison
Church Women United

Thank you to the great ladies of Church Women United for inviting Branches Counseling Center to your April meeting! Your commitment to positively impacting our community is inspiring!

Tracey Robison, Branches clinical director, spoke to the women's group on Effectively Managing Change.  For more information on Church Women United visit their  website.  
Daniel receives coveted award
1st Annual "Branches Bracket Flusher"

Congratulations to Daniel Crosby, winner of the 1st annual "Branches Bracket Flusher"! He picked NC to go all the way in the NCAA March Madness tournament. His pick for Gonzaga in the semi-finals was what sent him ahead of Mike Courtney, 2nd place winner. 

The toilet koozie trophy is now proudly displayed in Daniel's office! 

Better luck   next year, Mike!

Email Daniel to congratulate him personally!

Upcoming Events

Saturday, June 3 - Branches will appear at Chonda Pierce FUSION Conference experience for women.
Saturday, June 10 - Branches will appear at Chonda Pierce FUSION Conference experience for women.

Friday-Saturday, October 20-21 - Branches annual Simply Free conference in Murfreesboro, TN
Branches is a faith-based, non-profit organization that relies on donations from area businesses, churches, and individuals to make up the difference in received client fees and actual expenses.  Branches will see anyone - regardless of their ability to pay for services.

Your tax-deductible gift helps to recover hope and restore lives. 

Our purpose is to be a Christ-led community of spiritual, emotional, and physical recovery and restoration for those broken by addiction, depression, and shame in Middle Tennessee and beyond.