Most beachcombers view sea glass as a colorful addition to their collection. Diane Moore sees a person.
When Moore finds fragments of sea glass in the sand, she takes them home with her. The licensed mental health counselor has specific clients in mind.
“Everything that has happened to the sea glass has happened to them,” said Moore, Multnomah’s Distinguished Young Alumni Award Winner for 2013. “They have been emptied and washed out to sea.”
She carefully wraps wire around the fragments and crafts the pieces into necklaces. Then she gives the necklaces to women she is counseling.
'Mr. Rogers in a pink sweater'
Moore loves using everyday objects to communicate truths to her clients. “The objects can teach about what’s happened to them,” she said. “If you create an environment of truth, then people will heal.”
Moore first became involved in counseling as a children’s pastor for Vancouver First Church of God in 1994. After earning a bachelor’s degree in family studies, she spent several years working at Portland Youth for Christ, a non-profit organization. In 2008, Moore started her own radio show, “Parent Talk.”
Radio had always been a part of Moore’s life. Growing up on a rural farm, Moore and her family were detached from the local community beyond their property lines.
“We had a radio out in the cow barn,” she recalled. “When I listened to the programs, I felt this human connection to the people speaking.” Moore wanted to bring the same connectedness she had felt as a child to the listeners of her own program.
“I wanted to be Mr. Rogers in a pink sweater,” she said.
“Parent Talk” was a hit. Between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. (“the golden hour of nap time,” as Moore called it), mothers and fathers called in with all kinds of questions about parenting. Moore gave advice on everything from disobedient children to sibling rivalry.
The hardest calls to handle were the ones that dealt with prodigal son situations. Many parents were in a great deal of emotional pain. Whenever she struggled with a caller’s question, Moore always asked herself one thing: “What would God do?” God, she said, would always find a way to respond with a beautiful blend of grace and truth.
Moore encouraged parents to avoid becoming overwhelmed with hurt by choosing to prepare for their child’s return. “I told them to write their child a letter or buy them a gift,” she said. “They could store the gift in a closet. Whenever their child returned, they could open the closet and say, ‘I was thinking about you.’”
'They treated me like a colleague'
While Moore was hosting “Parent Talk,” she began pursuing a master’s degree in counseling at Multnomah. At the time, she was not planning on becoming a counselor; she merely wanted the training the degree provided.
As she became more immersed in the program, Moore began seeing a different path stretch before her. Her internship, she said, was the determining factor. She fell in love with one-on-one counseling. “I felt like I had finally found what I wanted to be when I grew up,” she said.
Moore said she wanted to earn her MAC at Multnomah because the school offered an experiential type of degree. “It was just like the kind of teaching Jesus did,” Moore said. “I was taught to think simply about complex problems.”
Although the training Moore received at Multnomah was invaluable, the professors stood out to her the most. “What really surprised me was that they treated me like a colleague,” she said.
While Moore viewed all her professors as exemplary, she remains particularly close to Jim Velez. “He will always be a special colleague and friend,” she said.
Moore has been successfully running her own private practice since 2011. She finds joy her in work and takes comfort in God’s role in her job and in her life. “Every morning, I turn every light in my office on, and I say, ‘I need you, God. I need your truth,’” she said.
Counseling has given her patience. “I want the healing process for people to be fast, but it takes a lot of time,” she said. “I have to trust God that their walls will come down, and that they’ll heal even when they get stuck.”
Moore acknowledges that her career takes an enormous amount of emotional energy. To diffuse the weightiness, Moore prioritizes self-care. She loves to bike, swim and spend time with her husband of 32 years, Rob, and their three children.
She recently began a new hobby: making jewelry. “My husband says I’m obsessed with it,” she said with a laugh. She gives many of the pieces she makes to her clients as gifts.
'God wants us to connect'
Counseling – not to mention Multnomah – runs in the family. Moore’s middle son and his wife are currently finishing their counseling degrees at MU. Her youngest daughter is doing the same.
Moore was surprised to be chosen for the Distinguished Young Alumni Award. “I just thought I was hiding in my office, and no one knew who I was!” she said.
For people considering the counseling field, Moore has a few words of wisdom: “Live thoughtfully. Do your work. Be healthy. And go to a therapist if you need to.”
She also has advice for those considering therapy: “Be sure you connect with the counselor. Make sure they’re putting the things you’re dealing with into the context of your life story.”
Her dream is to turn her private practice into a thriving internship center that caters to Multnomah MAC students seeking real-world experience. She hopes to offer students the same guidance and opportunities she was given when she pursued her master’s degree.
For Moore, life is all about relating. Whether she is spending time with her family, crafting a necklace or meditating on the Bible, she is constantly building bridges. “Sin keeps us from being connected,” she said. “But God wants us to connect.”
And Moore is overjoyed to connect with so many different people through her practice. “I love it,” she said. “I feel like I sit with God all day.”