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PastoraLab Spotlight: Charissa Allen

July 29, 2022

Charissa Allen is a PastoraLab Orange County Cohort member. She is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist working out of Orange County at the Center for Individual and Family Therapy (CIFT).

On PastoraLab Year 2, Session 13: Mobilizing the System: As a mental health clinician and Christian leader, I particularly enjoyed how our last PastoraLab session discussion integrated the ideas of spirituality, leadership, and psychology. Our cohort discussed how we can regulate and break habits through swing thoughts, regulating mantras, and mindful practices. This applies to my therapeutic work with clients as well as my personal growth as someone who often deals with people (and therefore relational triggers). Many conflicts within families, congregations, and other systems are left unresolved due to members’ inability to self-regulate when triggered.

I believe that part of adopting the “mind of Christ” is taking hold of safe and stable truths that help us to pause, interrupt our habitual responses, and proactively and non-anxiously choose another way. And often, the best way to pause is to get back to the basics of breathing and allowing oxygen back into the brain. I appreciated our discussion on how the long-term practice of letting our minds pause and breathe creates space for creativity, which not only benefits individuals but also systems that desire to grow more adaptable and improvisational.

Lastly, along the lines of organizational adaptability, I was challenged to consider how the corporate spaces I am a part of benefit through more diverse interpretations of problems, and how we as Asian American women leaders are uniquely equipped to contribute to that diversity.