Uriah Gilford | Kindness & Compassion In Practical Ways | K&C 10

In this episode Gordon talks with Uriah Guilford, MFT, a marriage and family therapist from Northern California, about how kindness and compassion has impacted his life inside the therapy room and outside.  They talk about ways  in which we can all experience “compassion fatigue” and the need to shift to be more other focused on a bigger scale.

Uriah shares a personal story about a mission trip to Mexico with his oldest daughter and what realizations came through serving others. We also talk about how acknowledgement and validation is very profound and healing and how that takes place in therapy.

Meet Uriah Guilford

Uriah Guilford MFTUriah is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with over 17 years of counseling experience.

He has a direct, but gentle approach, using insight and humor to motivate people to make positive changes.

He believes in focusing on people’s strengths and having specific goals in counseling to work towards, making as much progress as possible in the shortest time possible.

He is also married and has two wonderful daughters. You can read more of his personal story HERE.

Uriah helps young people ages 16-25 overcome anxiety, depression and other life challenges. He focuses on providing life skills and tools to increase emotional intelligence, handle anger & stress effectively and have satisfying relationships with friends and family members.

He works with families to improve communication and connection, as well as offering parent coaching, which can make a huge difference in creating a happy family.

In addition to these focuses, Uriah also works with men in their 30’s and 40’s, helping them to succeed at work and thrive at home.

Some of my most valuable experience came from the 6 years that I spent working in residential treatment centers for adolescents. I did everything with the teens, from cooking for them, going hiking and playing basketball to doing individual, family and group therapy with them. They taught me some amazing lessons about strength and courage in the face of adversity and how to be the kind of therapist that they really needed.

Uriah’s journey is to help teenagers and young adults to cope with and overcome the challenges they face. He is a practicing therapist for over 20 years and has recently shifted to be more in a role of supporting other therapists on his team.

Compassion Fatigue & Burnout

Over the last several years, a lot of us have experienced “compassion fatigue” on many different levels.  In that we can experience vicarious trauma from the news in the world and seeing the suffering of others.  Burnout on the other hand is when we feel overwhelmed with our work and our vocation feels stressful. Uriah and Gordon discuss ways in which they have overcome this.  Ultimately, when we turn our focus outward and put our energy into helping others in practical ways, we can experience something different.

Experiencing Compassion Through Mission Work

Uriah shares a story about a mission trip that he took with his oldest daughter to Mexico. Doing something for someone on a different scale was eye opening and life changing for him. By doing the job of the framing of the front door for a single mom of four kids that had escaped a domestic violence situation brought a new sense of purpose and was very impactful in forming a new perspective of how he wanted to serve others going forward.

Gordon also shares being on a mission trip to Honduras and how that brought on an overwhelming sense of compassion. Both Uriah and Gordon agree that it is impossible to forget a feeling of obligation to do more and how these were transformational experiences.

Taking Concrete Action

Uriah’s Wish for the world is to see a lot more people taking concrete actions and choosing a life kindness and compassion. With the ongoing mental health crisis, his mission is to help other therapist avoid burnout. We need more therapist to be thriving to be able to help our communities. Find out more about Uriah and his work at – productivetherapist.com and guilfordfamilycounseling.com


We all have the potential for experiencing kindness and compassion in very small and practical ways.  Self-care and care of others goes hand in hand.  When we take care of ourselves and do those things that nurture and allows us to be vulnerable with others, we can experience compassion for ourselves and others.   Its where kindness and compassion is found day in and day out.  Take care of yourself and others.


Gordon (00:00):
Hello folks, and welcome again to the podcast. And I'm glad for you to get to know my good friend, Uriah, Gilford, uh, Uriah. And I have known each other about a year now, but he's another therapist and, uh, has been with me along the journey as I was kind of planning this podcast. And so, um, I knew he would be a good one to be here and tell some of his stories of kindness and compassion. So welcome your eye.
Uriah (00:26):
Thank you so much for having me Gordon. Always a pleasure.
Gordon (00:29):
Yeah. So a as you think about, um, practices of kindness and compassion, and we've talked about this a little bit along the way, um, what, what comes to for you just in your work as a therapist and how it's impacted people's lives?
Uriah (00:48):
Yeah. So I've been a practicing therapist for over 20 years, and I think I, I probably will start introducing myself as a retired therapist because I did stop providing direct services, but for just a little over 20 years, I was a licensed marriage and family therapist. Well, actually the 20 years covers pre-licensed time. Um, and certainly that if you had asked me two years ago, that would be my primary answer would be, this is my role. This is my position as a therapist. And I work with teenagers and families and provide compassion and kindness in, in that sort of context of helping families heal and grow and connect with each other. Um, and then I think that's changed somewhat since I'm no longer an acting therapist and I'm more in a role of supporting the therapist that are on my team. And, um, so yeah, it's kind of, it's kind of shifting mm-hmm but one thing that I was thinking about in preparing for this conversation was that even though I've been a licensed therapist for so long, I think living day to day and being others focused and giving kindness and compassion to others, um, as a primary sort of, you know, um, position has always been a challenge for me, to be honest.
Uriah (02:00):
And so I was thrilled to have this conversation with you and, um, I think I like I'm developing as a, a person, um, to be more others focused, even though I've been a therapist for so long. Does that make sense?
Gordon (02:11):
Yeah, it does. It does. Um, and that, that makes sense because I think, um, you know, we can, we can sit in a therapy room with people and, you know, I think most of us that are in this field are kind of naturally empathetic, but there can become a little bit of burnout in just almost a little bit of compassion. Fatigue is maybe one thing that comes to mind. Um, and so I think, you know, being self aware of that is an important piece, definitely for a lot of us. So
Uriah (02:47):
I had several walls of compassion, fatigue over my career.
Gordon (02:50):
Oh yeah.
Uriah (02:50):
Working with, uh, primarily teenage boys who were not excited about being in the counseling room and hitting some walls with that. But that, that was my specialty and I, I loved it for sure.
Gordon (03:01):
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I know one of the things we talked about before we started recording is you had kinda some stories that, uh, where you've, where kindness and compassion you've had kind of that intersection with kindness and compassion in different settings, both in the therapy room and outside the therapy. Right.
Uriah (03:20):
Definitely. I had an experience last year where my oldest daughter and I went to, um, Mexico on a house building trip with our church and, um, down there in this particular part of Mexico, there's an orphanage. Um, that's doing really great work. There's a, a women's shelter. And then there's also this, um, you know, project of building houses for the women that are coming out of the women's shelter. And, um, this is not the kind of thing that I've ever done before. So it was new experience for myself mm-hmm and for my daughter. And I just knew I had a sense that this would be good for both of us, for our relationship. And then also kind of getting ourselves out of our normal context and, and doing something for somebody else on a different scale. And it was, it was a really neat experience.
Uriah (04:04):
It was a great group. And I had part of the, part of what I was doing was, um, you know, I don't, I'm not a person with a ton of construction experience, so , I was kind of following, you know, the directions and, and, and trying to figure out what I was doing. And on one day towards the end of the, a house build, um, I was sort of tasked with, um, framing the front door of this house and something I've never done before. So I was like, okay, I can do this. I can figure this out. And I spent a really long time getting it just right, the, the framing of the front door of this house. And this is a house that we were building for, uh, a single her with four kids who had come out of a domestic violence situation, very, very poor.
Uriah (04:46):
And, um, we, we found out that she was in a very unsafe situation for a period of time and was able to escape that. And there was a good possibility that the house that they'd lived in, um, over the last couple years may not have had a locking door, probably didn't have a, a locking door to keep her and her family safe. Mm-hmm . So I spent all this time on this door. I was like, I don't know why I care about this so much, but I'm doing this mm-hmm . And then as we were kind of meeting as a team, um, the next day we were talking about our experiences and, um, I was talking about how meaningful it was for me to, to do this part of the project for this family. And I had like this, uh, in the moment I had this connection between realizing that over the last number of years, I've been a therapist and I've been in the room trying to help families.
Uriah (05:32):
Some that were not in the same situation, but in very difficult situations and trying to bring my empathy and compassion to them and help them in their, their journey. I always felt limited because there was only so much I could do, you know, in 50 minutes in a therapy session. And this was a totally different experience where I was able to do something very practical, very concrete that, um, to me, felt like making a difference. Mm-hmm like I'm doing something that's impacting somebody else's life. Um, and it's in a different sort of arena. And I, I was sharing this with the team that we, you know, we were there with and I just started crying. Yeah. Cause it hit me so hard and right. Um, it made me realize that I want to put myself in positions where I can do that more. Mm-hmm that was pretty, pretty neat experience.
Gordon (06:18):
Yeah. Yeah. I think for anybody that's done anything like that, I, I, I don't know if we shared, um, with each other yet your I, but I used to do, do a lot of mission trips to Honduras and would do similar things. In fact, I got started going down there doing a, went on a habit that for humanity trip and building, you know, building houses and doing the, the hard labor and that kind of thing. And being in a, being in a place where people are in many ways, living in abject poverty, uh, by our standards anyway, mm-hmm and, and really being confronted with, um, maybe a little bit of, um, privileged guilt, you know? Sure. Seeing, seeing folks that were really struggling and, um, you know, living just day to day existence that was, would by our, by our standards would be very harsh and, um, so different in living through that.
Gordon (07:21):
And it's, it's, it's one of those things where I think you, when, when you experience something like that, the there's an overwhelming sense of compassion. Mm-hmm um, um, and I think, um, to, to be able to, to share that and to be able to know that, okay, we're providing a dry place for this person to sleep, which is just huge. Um, it, it is just CRA it is, it just it's, it changes our, for me, it was transformational and it really, um, really kind of set me on a whole trajectory that I find myself in now just by going and being with those people.
Uriah (08:05):
That's amazing. I love that. It, it seems like it's impossible for most people to go into a situation like that and not have an overwhelming feeling of compassion. Um, I think most people would, and a lot of us haven't seen true, like abject poverty um, one of the other things we did was we went, and this is part of, there's a group there that has sort of a, a ministry that goes to this particular, you're the largest dump in the area. And they go and they bring water and, and burritos and food, um, on a regular basis because there's these people that are living there in the dump, um, surrounded by burning to crash. I like it was the most, I don't know what the word, I can't even think of the word. It was like, um, impossible to forget experience to, to see, and to see these people living in this kind of conditions. And, um, for sure, like you said before, um, little bit of a privileged guilt and also realizing, oh my gosh, I have so much in my life. My family has so much mm-hmm, , I feel like there's an obligation to, to do more, to show up and, and, and give more time, money, et cetera. Right. So that, that definitely made a mark on me, for sure. In, in the best way. Yeah.
Gordon (09:14):
You know, in, in your work as a therapist, um, changed, kinda changed courses here just a little bit. What, what sort of impact have you seen where people have been, maybe been affected by kindness and it's changed them?
Uriah (09:33):
Yeah, that's a good question. I, I think about the families that I worked with over the years, um, I'm primarily a family therapist. That's how I kind of still identify, even though I'm retired, Uhhuh . Um, and I think about the experience that the, these parents would have when they were searching for help, struggling with their teenager, struggling with their relationship with their teenager, and maybe some acting out behaviors or just, you know, depression, anxiety, those kinds of things, and not knowing what to do. And, um, I always felt so good about providing the services that I did and when the parents would find me, find my website and then connect with me, we would be able to talk on the phone. And just in a short conversation, I would be able to express, you know, that I understand to some degree what they're going through and that I actually have some skills and some resources and, and a, and a way to provide help that will get them from where they are to where they wanna be.
Uriah (10:29):
Mm-hmm um, I was always so pleased with the relief that they would feel just after like 15, 20 minute phone call, like, oh my goodness. I feel, I think I found somebody that's, that's going to help me in my family. Mm-hmm so, yeah, that, that comes to mind for sure. And, and that has always been, felt like a privilege to do that. And now, and now in my practice, I have other therapists that are providing those same services. Mm-hmm and so we can, we're doing that on a larger, on a larger scale, but that always just made me feel so good.
Gordon (10:58):
Right. Right. Well, I think, uh, you know, my experience in similar similar situations, I think when people come in for therapy or counseling, um, when they, when they get to tell about themselves and it not be met with judgment or not be met with this or shame or any of that sort of thing, it has a way of just kind of transforming people, um, um, just in the, in the therapy room. Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I'm reminded of a story. I'll tell a little story here as well. Just a with a, with a client I was working with several years ago and it was a, it was a man and he, um, it long, long story short is that he had been abused, sexually abused as a, as a child, as a, as a pre, you know, young teen. And he had never really talked about that and never really shared that. And it had affected him so much that he just lived with his ongoing, terrible depression, and he had had some shock therapy and, you know, just some, you know, really kind of, kind of the pulled out all the stops with their, with the treatment of the depression. But when he was finally able to talk about that, mm um, it was such a sense of relief for him. And then also be met with compassion and not disdain or the, all the internal shame that he was feeling mm-hmm was, was acknowledged and validated,
Uriah (12:37):
You know? Yeah. That's amazing. And that can happen in so many contexts, not just therapy, obviously anytime there's a human to human connection where some, one, one person expresses their vulnerability and what's, you know, shares something about what's really going on with them. And then the other person on the other side, doesn't respond with judgment or criticism. Like you're saying, um, that's a profound thing because I think we all think that everybody, if, if people really knew what I was going through or what I'm dealing with and they would, mm-hmm, certainly not want to know me. Talk to me, be close to me. Um, so having that sort of the, the term that comes to mind from grad school is corrective emotional experience, right?
Gordon (13:15):
Yes. Yes.
Uriah (13:16):
Uhhuh is really meaningful. Yeah.
Gordon (13:18):
Yeah. Yeah. So it, to, to kind of pull things together for us, you right. As you think about, um, just this whole topic of kindness and compassion, um, what, what sort of changes would you hope for in the world?
Uriah (13:36):
Hmm. That's a good question. Do you ask that one to everyone?
Gordon (13:38):
I like that. No. No, just you,
Uriah (13:40):
You should you should definitely ask that more. Yeah. Yeah. What sort of changes? Well, I mean, obviously when, when you look around the world and everything that's going on, uh, we, we need a lot more people taking concrete action and choosing to live a life of kindness and compassion. Um, and so I'm trying to do more, more on, on my side and with my family. And, uh, we're going back to Mexico this year. Mm-hmm, both, my kids are going and my oldest wants to go back the plan wasn't for her to go, but she was so excited that she wanted to go back. Yeah. Um, and, and honestly, I, I think the other thing that comes to mind when you ask that question is my current mission is helping therapists avoid burnout. Um, and we, and I'm doing that by providing virtual administrative support to therapists across the us, through my business called productive therapist. Sorry to give a little plug here, but, um, yeah, it's okay. That's, that's really me meaningful in the sense that I think obviously there's an ongoing mental health crisis in the world mm-hmm and in the United States, of course. And, um, we need more therapists to, um, be thriving and doing, doing the, the best work that they can do, um, to help our communities, you know, both locally and, and globally. So, yeah,
Gordon (14:57):
Yeah, yeah. I couldn't agree more. I think it's, um, you know, I think the more that we can teach people how to deal with their own own emotions and their own struggles, because I think, um, uh, as we know, just from the brain science what's happening in the brain is that that's that part of our brain called the Amy amygdala that takes over, which is really kind of fear based. And it's there for a good reason. It helps us survive, but when we can teach people how to kind of maybe better control that part themselves, they're much better equipped to show kindness and compassion and, and, and live with other people in a better way.
Uriah (15:41):
Absolutely. Yeah,
Gordon (15:43):
Yeah. Yeah. So you, right. Tell folks how they can get in touch with you if they wanna find out more about you.
Uriah (15:50):
Yeah. Probably the best place is productive therapist.com. That's kind of home for all of my, uh, current current passions. And then, uh, Gilford family counseling.com is, is where my, my group practice, uh, lives. Yeah.
Gordon (16:03):
Yes. So we'll have all this in the show notes and the show summary. And so thanks Uriah for being on this podcast and letting folks hear from
Uriah (16:13):
You. Thanks so much for having me Gordon.

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L. Gordon Brewer Jr., LMFT |Podcast Host – Gordon has spent his career in helping professions as a licensed therapist, counselor, trainer, and clergy person.  He has worked with 100’s of people in teaching them the how to better manage their emotions through self-care and the practices of kindness and compassion.  Follow us on Instagram and Facebook .  And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.



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