Stephen Combs, MA, NCC, QMHP-A, CCTP Resident in Counseling

I was born and raised in a small town in Ohio, the middle of 6 children in a combined family. Immediately upon completion of High School I enlisted in the Marine Corps where I served 8 years on active duty, including combat experience during the first Gulf War.

When I left active duty I went to a community college and earned an Associate degree in Criminal Justice. While going to school I worked the night shift at a residential facility for at risk youth, and shortly after graduating began a career as a veterans advocate. I have more than 20 years’ experience in that field, working at every level from local community assistance to acting as a non-attorney practitioner representing veterans before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

I remain active in the veteran’s community with a life membership in the DAV, Marine Corps League, and VFW. I also serve on the Fredericksburg Area Veterans Council as the DAV delegate, and am in my fourth year as the Fredericksburg DAV Chapter’s Chairman of the Committee on Veteran Homelessness. With the assistance of the other area Veterans Organizations I have planned and conducted several relief efforts aimed at homeless veterans and other community members in need. In October 2015 I was selected as an alternate non-scientist to sit on the Institutional Review Board of the Washington DC Veterans Medical Center.   

These experiences (growing up in a large family without much money, Marine Corps and combat, exposure to at risk youth and veteran advocacy) peeked my curiosity in the field of psychology. I returned to school and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology in 2009, and in 2013 I earned a Master’s degree in Community Counseling. My internship was completed with a Commonwealth of Virginia agency that assists veterans and with the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board (RACSB).  Since my university was CACREP accredited I was allowed to apply to, and sit for, the National Counselor Examination and earned the credential of a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). After graduation in August 2013 I took a few months off and then applied to the RACSB where I was a mental health therapist in the Fredericksburg Outpatient Clinic from December 2013 through October 2015, at which time I was accepted into the private practice at Intuitive Journeys, PLC (IJ). I am very excited at the wide range of experiences that IJ has available for its clients, and look forward to working with you in these various activities.

I like to think of the holistic person, rather than just restricting the focus on the immediate difficulty. We may recognize problems in only one area (work, home, etc), but other areas of our lives may be involved. Our lack of adequate sleep may decrease our work productivity and make us irritable. Our stress at work may lead to problems with our families. All of the issues are interrelated and should be discussed.

My personal philosophy is one of choice, reality, and hope. No matter how limited we may feel in a given situation, there are always choices to be made. We may not like the choices, and we may not even be aware of them, but they are there and together you and I can work on identifying the paths available to you. Where we are at now in life, whether we like our position or not, is directly related to, and a result of, the choices we have made along our life journey. An important aspect of making good choices is to recognize the reality of our situation.

A person’s reality is closely associated with the choices they have made. If we are not satisfied with who we are and/or where we are at in life today, how do we change course? We all have basic skills and abilities, and when we recognize what we can do, as well as accepting what we cannot, we are able to set a realistic and achievable strategic plan and then make smaller goals that will lead towards that long range pursuit. No matter how far off, or how long the trip, we need to remember that even the longest journey starts with the smallest step. It is here, with the short term goals, that our choices are most important.

With this vision of choices and the ability to change our personal reality, how could I not believe in hope? Regardless of the current situation, it can always be improved. If you are ready to begin the next phase of your life, or just need to work on immediate concerns, contact IJ and ask to be scheduled to work with me. Together we can address your personal challenges, and together we can work for the future.